Calling all Alberta boat owners! Did you know that there are certain circumstances in which you must have your boat licensed or registered? To be a responsible boater, you need to know the differences between the two, how to do it, and why!

Pleasure Craft Licensing

If you own a boat with a motor that is faster than ten horsepower, you need to look into getting your vessel licensed. There are two parts to a boat license that captains must be aware of. First, there is the physical license card that must be kept on your person at all times. This card displays a vessel-specific ID number that will be used to identify your boat in emergencies. Boating without the card on-board could land you with a $250 fine. The only time a captain is permitted to be operating their boat in Alberta waters without the license is if the boat has been purchased in the past 90-days. In that instance, the captain must carry documentation stating their name, address and the purchase date of the boat.

Secondly, the number that appears on the license card must be displayed on the boat’s bow so that it can be easily seen and recognized. The characters must be at least seven centimetres tall and need to be printed in a colour that contrasts the colour of the hull.

Information present on the vessel’s license such as the captain’s name and address must be kept up to date at all times. Should any relevant data change, the vessel license will need to be updated. Boat licenses are only valid for ten years, after which it must be renewed. Licensing your boat is free of charge.

Vessel Registry

Boats that are large enough to require a marine mortgage will need to be registered by the captain. Similarly, if the captain is planning on taking their boat outside of Canada, it must also be registered. These are not suggestions for the owner and operator – if a boat meets these criteria, registry is mandatory. Registry comes at a cost of $250.00, but comes with fun perks, too! Instead of receiving an identification number, captains may pick out an official boat name and identify the port of registry to be displayed on the boat, for example: Lake Lover, Red Deer, AB.

The name and port must be displayed on the boat just like the identification number and will be used for the same emergency purposes. In case of emergency, rescue personnel will use this name to identify you. For this reason, it is best to pick a short and concise name that can be communicated effectively between search and rescue persons. In addition to displaying the name and port on the vessel, somewhere on the boat’s interior the official number and tonnage of the boat must be displayed.

If you think that your boat meets any of these criteria, you need to get your vessel either licensed or registered. If you are unsure if your boat needs to be registered or have other additional questions, contact the Vessel Registration Office.

In addition to a licensed vessel, boaters also need a Pleasure Craft Operator Card to be a certified boater in Alberta. Take the Transport Canada approved boating safety course and explore Alberta today!

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