Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC)

Q. Am I required to have a Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC)?
A. As of September 15, 2009, anyone wishing to operate a power-driven boat will require to show proof of competency. The PCOC is one of 3 forms of "proof of competency". Certain age and horsepower restrictions will apply for youths.

Q. What does 'proof of competency' mean?
A. Proof of competency can take 1 of 3 forms:

  • proof of having successfully completed a boating safety course in Canada prior to April 1, 1999;
  • a pleasure craft operator card issued following the successful completion of a Canadian Coast Guard accredited test;
  • a completed rental-boat safety checklist (for power-driven rental boats)(more information on proof of competency)

Q. What is the deadline for getting a Pleasure Craft Operator Card?
A. As of September 15, 2009 the deadline is passed. You must have a PCOC or proof of competency to operate any type of powered vessel.

Q. Do I need a Pleasure Craft Operator Card or Proof of Competency to operate a Sailboat, Canoe or Row boat?
A. If your pleasure craft is temporarely or permanently fitted with an auxiliary gas, diesel or electric engine or you are carrying such an engine on board that can be fitted to operate your pleasure craft, yes, you do need proof of competncy.

Q. Is the CPS-ECP Pleasure Craft Operator Card any different from the others?
A. Yes. The CPS-ECP PCOC courses are the only ones approved by Transport Canada (see note) and accredited by the US National Association of Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA). The NASBLA accreditation makes the CPS-ECP PCOC recognized by the United States Coast Guard. As such the CPS-ECP Card is the only one officially recognized in both the US and Canada. US States may choose to recognize other PCO Cards but they are not obliged to do so unless they have received individual NASBLA approval. As of April 15, 2011 all PCOC providers will use tests generated by Transport Canada.

Q. Can PCOC's be replaced if lost or Stolen? If yes, what is the cost?
A. Yes, provided you took the exam with CPS-ECP or Canadian Red Cross. You can order your replacement online and we will replace your card for the cost of $25.00 (non-members) or $15.00 (CPS-ECP members). If you have not taken your exam with CPS-ECP or Canadian Red Cross, you will have to contact your provider or go to Transport Canada to find out who you took your exam with.

Q. Do I have to enroll in a Boating Safety Course before writing an online exam?
A. Yes, you must enroll in an Online Boating Safety course only before you can attempt to write the online open book computer based exam offered by Transport Canada. Online boating safety courses are only offered by a Transport Canada Accredited online course providers. As of January 3 2012, CPS-ECP is offering the English version of Boating Basics Online and is accredited by Transport Canada to offer the CPS-ECP Boating Basics Online course. Details and Register...

Q. Do I have to enroll in a Boating Safety Course before writing the classroom exam?
A. No. You can 'challenge' the classroom exam. However, if you have no or little Boating experience, taking the CPS-ECP Boating Basics course is strongly recommended. You can also take some time to study our Boating Basics Hard Copy Handbook, the CPS-ECP accredited manual for the seminar.

Q. Where can I take such a Boating Safety Classroom Course?
A. The Boating Basics Safety Course is Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons' accredited course. It is available as an Online course and in classrooms through Squadrons across Canada or from several CPS-ECP Recognized Providers.

Q. Does the cost of the Boating Basics hard copy include the exam?
A. No. The exam is a separate item.

Q. Where do the funds collected go?
A. The funds remain with CPS-ECP to pay for revisions to course material, maintaining a data base of successful candidates, and issuing the Transport Canada card. It does not go to any government agency.

Q. Can I study Boating Basics at home, or with friends?
A. Absolutely! Just order the handbook online. It is ideal for home study, but you must still write the supervised examination. You can also take the online course, but in order for each student to qualify to write the Transport Canada online exam, each student must purchase and register the online course separately.

Q. Where do I go to write the exam?
A. Check the Classroom Course Calendar or contact your local Squadron. CPS-ECP will be arranging group exam sittings at convenient locations and frequent times.

Q. Can I re-write the exam if I fail the first time?
A. Certainly! But only once. A failed rewrite requires attendance at a Boating Basics Course classroom or to completely retake the online course.

Q. Is there a practical, on-the-water component to the Boating Basics Course or exam?
A. No. The course and exam are entirely theory.

Q. How long is the Pleasure Craft Operator Card good for?
A. According to present regulations, it is a lifetime card.

Q. Is there an annual cost for the card?
A. No! Earning a card is a one-time effort. The original card comes with the price of the exam. There will be a nominal charge for replacement of a lost or damaged card.

Q. Do operators of Personal Watercraft require the card?
A. Yes! PWC operators are considered boaters, and must follow the same rules and regulations.

Q. Who will enforce the laws relating to the Pleasure Craft Operator Card?
A. Any agency that currently enforces the Small Vessel Regulations, Canada Shipping Act, and/or Contraventions Act will police the Regulation. Enforcement may vary from Province to Province, and place to place. You can expect the RCMP; Provincial Police; local police and auxiliaries, and Canadian Coast Guard to check on boaters.

Q. What penalties might there be for boaters who fail to get the required card?
A. The penalties will likely be similar to those that currently apply for not carrying the required safety equipment on board. In Provinces where the "Contraventions Act" has been adopted, summary ticketing with a schedule of fines is to be expected.

Q. Will there be a penalty for those who have a card, but don't carry it while boating?
A. It is expected that there will be penalties similar to those for not carrying a driver's licence while operating a motor vehicle. This will depend upon the regulations in place, and the conditions of the Contraventions Act.

Q. Can anyone 15 years of age or younger operate a Personal Watercraft?
A. No! Children may ride on a PWC but it must be operated by a person of at least 16 years of age.

Q. Can I help to teach the Boating Basics Course?
A. Perhaps. Contact your local Squadron, or CPS-ECP Head Office to learn more about teaching opportunities in your community.

Q. Does passing the Boating Basics Course allow me to take any of the CPS-ECP Advanced Courses?
A. Taking the pre-requisite courses are suggested, but you can take any CPS-ECP courses without any pre-requisites.

Q. Does passing the Boating Basics Course give me a foundation to take the Beyond Boating Basics Course?
A. Yes, passing the Boating Basics Course gives you a head-start on the Beyond Boating Basics Course, and you would not have to sit the Transport Canada accredited exam. But you would be required to study the full Boating Basics Course, and pass the final, multiple-choice examination with a mark of at least 75%.