A man wearing sunglasses driving a boat.

3 Steps to Get a Boating License in the U.S.A and Canada

How to Get a Boating License

Getting a boating license can create safer waters for other boaters and your passengers. Here’s how to get a boating license in Canada and U.S.A.

Boating in Canada

If you are in Canada and you have a boat, then you know that it is necessary for you to have a boating license. Proof of competency when operating a boat only became compulsory in Canada since the year 2000. This has significantly improved the safety of the waterways in Canada since safety knowledge, training and experience is now a requirement. If you operate any boat with a motor for recreational purposes, you will need to have proof of competency, also called a PCOC (Pleasure Craft Operator Card), which will prove that you have a basic understanding of how to operate your boat safely as well as knowing exactly what to do in an emergency.

Obtaining proof of competency is easier than you might think. It’s as simple as doing an online course on your laptop, PC or smartphone for as little as $49.99 CAD. There are many websites to choose from such as Boat-Ed, and If you prefer, there are also classroom courses and exams available in certain provinces across Canada.

3 Easy Steps:

1. Study and Write the Online Course
Every website offers an easy-to-follow course — some even have animation to make it easier to learn. Once you have completed the course you will be required to take the Transport Canada Boating Safety Test (TCBS test) and you will be allowed to take the test a second time with a 24-hour waiting period if you did not pass the first time. Keep in mind that the course can take up to three hours to complete.

2. Print Your Temporary PCOC
When you have been successful at passing the TCBS test you will be able to print a document that declares that you have completed the course, and this will act as a temporary boating license in Canada.

3. Get Your Pleasure Craft Operator Card
You don’t have to do anything from here except to go boating with your temporary document. Your official Pleasure Craft Operator Card will be sent to you in the mail within two to three weeks!

Boating in the U.S.A.

Perhaps you own a boat or plan to rent a boat for a vacation? If so, then it is imperative that you get yourself an Approved Boating Safety Certification. Unlike Canada, the U.S.A. has unique boating rules, regulations and laws for every state, so it is important to first review the legal requirements depending on which state you live in. In some states all you need is a driver’s license to operate a boat, but in truth this will not ensure that you know all the regulations and safety measures of boating. Getting your boat safety certification will not only increase your water safety skills, but you will also get a discount on boat insurance if you have passed a boating safety course.

At the Boat U.S.A. Foundation you can do an online boat safety course in three easy steps. After selecting your state, you will be guided through the course, and once you have passed it you can simply print out the temporary certificate of completion. This is all free of charge. At you can also do an online course at your own pace for $34.95 USD, which includes the course, temporary certification and the official wallet-sized card.

Make sure that you have your boat safety certification whenever you are on the water to ensure the safety of yourself, your passengers as well as other boaters on the water.

3 Easy Steps:

1. Study the Course
Most online courses offer an easy-to-read study guide and some of them allow you to study at your own pace. At you can learn through watching engaging videos, making learning easy and fun.

2. Take the Test
Some of the exams offer visual questions with illustrations to make it even easier to remember and understand what you have learned. Depending on the specific state’s requirements to get a boat safety license, it can take up to three hours to complete the course and the test.

3. Print Your Certification
The final step: once you have passed the test, simply print out your boat safety certification document. The official card will be delivered to you within two to eight weeks, depending on which state you are in.

The Importance of a Boating License

While a boating license isn’t always required in U.S.A. depending on the state, it is still lucrative to have. If you live in Canada, it is federal law to get a boating license before taking to the waters. Having a boating license shows that you have optimal safety education, and you know what to do when it comes to facing injury or damage while on a boat. Also, having the boating safety knowledge doesn’t only protect you but your passengers too. It’s better to be safe than sorry.