Alberta is a boat lovers paradise, with recreational boating, watersports and fishing being some of the provinces most popular pastimes. But before you hit the water, take a look at our guide to boating in Alberta.

Q: Do I need a boat licence in Alberta?

An educated boater is a safe boater – which is why a valid Pleasure Craft Operator Card, commonly known as a boating license, is required in all Canadian provinces – including Alberta – when operating motorized vessels. Boaters need to be able to supply a boating license regardless of their age, the size of their boat or engine horsepower. It’s the law. Boat operators in Alberta caught without their card face a minimum $250 fine. The good news? Your Alberta boating license is valid across all Canadian provinces and is valid for life, so you only need to get certified once!

What’s the difference between licensing a boat and getting my boating license?

Licensing your boat (also often known as vessel registration, despite them being slightly different things!), typically refers to the unique ID number that must be displayed on your boat. You only need to get your boat licensed if it meets certain criteria. This is not to be confused with your own boating license, or Pleasure Craft Operator Card. To put it simply, a boat needs to have a license, and so does its driver! Learn more about licensing your vessel here.

Q: How long does it take to get my Alberta boat licence? 

It takes a minimum of 3-5 hours to complete your boating license course. The Official Transport Canada Pleasure Craft Operator Card exam is available online and can be completed from the comfort of your home. Once you complete your boating license course and pass the test, you will receive your Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC) is approved proof of competency to operate on all Canadian waterways.

Q: What if I don’t pass the Alberta boating license exam?

Boating should be carefree – so do not panic if you don’t pass! One of the great things about getting your boating license is that you can re-take the test free of charge until you successfully complete the course. After passing your exam, you will receive a temporary boating license – allowing you to get out on the water immediately!

Q: What age do I have to be to legally drive a boat in Alberta?

It doesn’t matter what age you are – once you pass the exam, you can get a boating license! We love to see young boaters out on the water, but be aware that there there are horsepower restrictions in place which limit what boats children and teenagers can drive. Remember, if you are going to drive a powerboat, you need a licence – regardless of age. There is no minimum age to obtain your Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC) in Alberta, but there are supervision requirements and horsepower restrictions for young boat operators. Click here to learn more about the age restrictions for various types of vehicles on the water.

Q: Do I need a licence to drive a jet-ski?

A boating license is legally required for all motorized vehicles on the water – and that includes jet-skis. So, if you are hitting the water on your sea-doo make sure that you are also carrying your Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC) or boating license on board with you at all times.

Q: Where Is the Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC) valid?

Your boating license or PCOC is valid in each province of Canada, including Alberta, Saskatchewan,  Ontario, Québec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Manitoba, British Columbia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Q: What is the fine for operating without your card?

Not having your boating license on board with you while driving a motorized boat in Alberta will result in a fine of $250, excluding administrative charges. Click here to learn more about boating fines across the province.

Q: Who enforces boating related laws in Alberta?

The boating laws and regulations will be enforced by peace officers and Alberta’s Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). on all provincial waterways. You can expect to see these officers on the lakes and rivers throughout Alberta, so make sure the captain of your boat is carrying their Pleasure Craft Operator Card with them at all times – no excuses

Sign up for your boating licence and get out on the water today! If you have a question about boating in Alberta, get in touch!

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