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Do You Need a Boating License to Rent a Boat?

textWhen embarking on a water adventure in Canada, prioritizing legality and safety is essential. Across Canada, each province has distinct laws and regulations regarding boating requirements and safety. As you prepare to rent a boat, understanding these regulations is crucial. Unlike some countries where a boating license might be necessary, Canadian provinces often require a boating safety course certificate or a proof of competency which can be administered by authorized boat rental services using a boating safety checklist instead.

Boat rentals from RAW Watersports can be categorized into two types: those with captains (Rentals) and those without (Cruises).

Opting for a captained cruise from our fleet allows you to enjoy the journey without needing a boater’s certificate since you won’t be piloting the vessel. On the other hand, if you choose to rent a boat without a captain, you will require a Pleasure Craft Operators Card (PCOC) or complete a Boaters Safety Checklist before your rental. At RAW Watersports, we ensure your rental experience is seamless and compliant with local regulations.

Navigating Canadian Waters with RAW Watersports

A Boater Certificate:
In Canada, you do not need a traditional license for recreational boating. What you need is a Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC), which serves as proof that you have successfully completed a boating safety course. This certificate is a one-time requirement and does not expire. The courses, approved by Transport Canada, cover essential boating safety, navigation, and emergency response. You can take the course here.


A Rental Boat Safety Checklist:
A rental boat safety checklist is a ready-to-use safety briefing. Rental agencies use the checklist to review safety information with clients before they head out onto the water. Clients check the boxes on the list to confirm they have understood each item.

Checklists include information on boat operation, boating safety rules, local hazards, and what to do in an emergency. Safety checklists are available for many different kinds of boats and personal watercraft.

Anyone operating a power-driven boat in Canada must carry proof of competency while on board. Your completed rental boat safety checklist is considered proof of competency.

The Captain Question:
Deciding whether to rent a boat with or without a captain is an important consideration. At RAW Watersports, we recommend assessing your familiarity with boating and the local waterways. If you’re less experienced or planning activities that demand your attention, opting for one of our experienced captains can enhance your experience. Our captains are familiar with Lake St. Clair’s best spots for fishing, swimming, and more, allowing you to focus on the adventure while we handle the navigation.

Keeping it Legal, Keeping it Safe:
Boating accidents in Canada, much like elsewhere, are often due to operator error. Transport Canada emphasizes the importance of boating education in preventing accidents. RAW Watersports is committed to promoting safety by ensuring all our clients are informed and prepared. Whether you’re renting a pontoon boat, a fishing boat, or a personal watercraft, we provide a comprehensive orientation to ensure you’re comfortable with the vessel’s operation.

Requirements to Rent and Operate a Boat:
To rent a boat from RAW Watersports, you must meet basic requirements including;

  • being of legal age (21)
  • providing a security deposit  with a valid credit card
  • if you intend to pilot the boat, either a PCOC or completion of a Boaters Safety Checklist is required

We adhere to Transport Canada’s regulations to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone on board

What to Expect from a Boater Education Certificate Course:
Boater education courses in Canada are accessible online or in-person, designed to suit various learning preferences. These courses, approved by Transport Canada, cover the essentials of boating in Canada, including boat types, operation, and safety laws specific to Canadian waterways.

Stay Informed with RAW Watersports

Navigating Canadian waters requires a Transport Canada-approved boating course completion or a Boaters Safety Checklist which is valid only for the duration of your rental and requires completion on each subsequent rental whereas the PCOC card is valid for life. Regulations may evolve, so staying informed and compliant is crucial. At RAW Watersports, whether you choose to enjoy Lake St. Clair with one of our captains or take the helm yourself after completing a boating education course, safety and legality are our top priorities.

Embark on your next water adventure with confidence and peace of mind with RAW Watersports, your trusted partner on the water.