NASBLA Roundtable

Question about Canadian Titles, Licensing and Registrations

  • 1.  Question about Canadian Titles, Licensing and Registrations

    Posted 07-14-2020 09:58 AM
    I have a question.

    I have not had a lot of experience with Canadian registered boats.  I have a boat that has been purchased by a Nebraska resident.  They have brought the registration and bill of sale to the County to title and register the vessel.  In reviewing the paperwork and researching Canadian laws, it appears that there is a licensing and registering process in Canada but they don't talk about titling.  Is licensing the same and titling?  In order for us to title the boat, would we need the license rather than the registration?  I guess I am looking for any help you can give me.  Thanks.

    Jeff Clauson
    Assistant Administrator - Law Enforcement Division
    Boating Law Administrator
    Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

  • 2.  RE: Question about Canadian Titles, Licensing and Registrations

    Posted 07-15-2020 08:20 AM
      |   view attached


    I have attached very basic information regarding licencing and registration in Canada.  This may be of assistance but it also states to visit Transport Canada's Vessel Registration Office for info also.



    Joseph Gatfield, JN

    Past Chief Commander – Ex-commandant en chef

    External Relations – Relations extérieures

    Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons

    Escadrilles canadiennes de plaisance

    (O) 519-966-1781 (C) 519-257-0559






  • 3.  RE: Question about Canadian Titles, Licensing and Registrations

    Posted 07-15-2020 09:45 AM

    Hi Jeff,


    In Canada, pleasure craft are required to be licenced if it is fitted with a motor or motors equally 10 hp or more.  A Pleasure Craft Licence (PCL) is not considered proof of ownership and is not a title document.  To get a licence, the owner needs to provide the bill of sale, legal documents (ex: a will, court decision, etc.) or a notarized declaration, showing proof of ownership before the licence document will be issued. Getting a PCL is currently free and it is the option most pleasure craft owners choose.


    The owner does have the option to register the pleasure craft if they wish.  This option is recommended if the boat will be transiting through international borders (ex: used in Florida or the Carribbean in the winter months). The registration document is considered proof of ownership and a "title" document. There is a fee to get a vessel registered and there are more steps involved. 


    By far the majority of pleasure craft that are being sold to individuals and move back in forth across the border would be pleasure craft that were or will require a pleasure craft licence.


    Hope this helps.  If you need more information. Please ask.


    Michelle L. Maruk

    Small Vessel Officer

    Office of Boating Safety

    Transport Canada (AMSDO)

    330 Sparks St.

    Ottawa, ON

    613-299-9423 (c)


  • 4.  RE: Question about Canadian Titles, Licensing and Registrations

    Posted 07-15-2020 01:02 PM
    ​Hello Jeff,

    We have 2 systems up here in Canada.  Pleasure Craft licences issued under Transport Canada do not 'prove' ownership and any person bringing that vessel across any border would be prudent to also have their Bill of Sale with them.   In British Columbia, we have pleasure craft licenced with a BC prefix, then the pleasure craft licence number ( eg.  BC 123456 )  This replaced the 'old' system, (formerly a 13K prefix)

    Each province has its own prefix, designating its origin.  BC for British Columbia, AB for Alberta, etc, etc.

    The second system, also under Transport Canada is to Register your vessel by name and Port of Registry.  Those vessels are held in a database and issued an Official Number ( O.N. )  Registration proves ownership and no Bill of Sale is required.  We do not have Title associated to our vessels and/or boat trailers which would be a much more streamlined process.

    Off the top of my head, if the vessel is registered, I understand it requires a marine survey.  Technically the Registration process allows for a marine mortgage to be undertaken and the vessel's value is divided into 64 shares, one of which is 'owned' by the Crown.

    Basically a long winded reply to your question....but if your residents have a boat that has the prefix and numbers, they should always keep a copy of the bill of sale with them proving ownership.

    Hope this helps.

    Yours truly,


    Cst. Mike Reid
    Marine Investigator/Vessel Commander
    RCMP West Coast Marine
    4412 Boban Drive,
    Nanaimo, BC
    Canada V9T 5V9
    (250) 751-8845 office
    (250) 618-8459 cell