Changes To Boating License Laws

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Transport Canada has made some fundamental changes to the boating exam.


To Improve Boating Safety

Some of you may have already heard that Transport Canada has made some fundamental changes to the boating exam process needed to acquire a boating license in Canada. These changes have been implemented in order to improve safety for all boaters, and make the boating experience more enjoyable for everyone.

Providing access to the latest boating safety information these more defined boating guidelines will help recreational boaters become more responsible and knowledgeable about boating safety.

New boating enthusiasts might not know how this will affect them so here’s rundown of all the upcoming changes.


Effective April 15, 2011 boaters of all ages (there are no age exemptions or minimum ages to get certified) operating a motorized pleasure craft (this includes any watercraft with a motor, be it a sailboat fitted with an auxiliary motor, or even an electric motor on a canoe) need to hold a Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC) (i.e. a boating license).

In order to acquire the license, candidates must first pass a mandatory 5 chapter online course and receive a minimum grade of 80% on each quiz found at the end of every chapter. Once completed, they must pass the open-book online PCOC test comprised of 50 questions and receive a minimum grade of 75%.

Those who have taken a boating safety course prior to April 1, 1999 will not be required to take another course or test. However, a copy of a certificate or a card issued at the completion of courses taken prior to April 1, 1999 will need to be carried on board the pleasure craft.

Online Study Guide Requirements

Beginning April 15, 2011, if a person wants to take the online boating safety test, they must first complete the Study Guide, which is available online.

The Online Study Guide comprises a minimum of 5 chapters which cover the basics of boating safety, regulations and accepted best practices. At the end of each chapter, the candidate tests their knowledge by taking a chapter review quiz. There is a minimum of 10 practice questions per chapter. They are graded automatically and given their score online. If they receive a grade of over 80%, they can move on to the next chapter.

  • The total amount of time required to complete the Online Study Guide must be no less than three (3) hours and each chapter has a minimum set time limit
  • A candidate may complete the Online Study Guide one chapter at a time at their own pace, over a period of up to one (1) year
  • Once a candidate has successfully passed a chapter review quiz, he or she can return to the content page for that chapter at any time with no time requirements
  • Once the Study Guide has been completed, candidates will be able to access the online PCOC Test website and complete their official test

Online PCOC Test

Once the Study Guide is complete, candidates will be provided a link to the Transport Canada Marine Safety’s (TCMS) online test website. Every test is unique with 50 randomly generated questions drawn from the TCMS bank of boating safety questions.

The test is open-book and can be completed from the candidate’s private residence. (Prior to this, a Supervisor was required for the exam.)

  • A passing grade is 75% and candidates will automatically receive their test scores online
  • A candidate may only take one (1) Online PCOC test per day (24 hours)
  • If the candidate fails the test twice, TCMS will email the Course Provider and the candidate will be required to start the entire Online Study Guide again from the beginning ? with the time requirements in place.

After Passing The PCOC Test

Following the test, TCMS will send an email to the candidate that will allow them to print a temporary Operator Card directly from their website. The temporary PCOC expires when candidates receive their permanent PCOC, or, no later than 60 days after the date they passed the test.

For any additional information please refer to the TCMS FAQ list here.

About Peter Wood 1194 Articles
As an avid lifelong angler and hunter, Peter’s outdoor knowledge and experiences keep expanding through his hundreds of hours of hunting and fishing podcast interviews with like minded experts. He has received numerous national writing awards. With thousands of outdoor pictures on Ripple Outdoors and many full-length articles with outdoor magazine and video clips you might say that he not only enjoys his outdoor lifestyle, but he’s quite the fanatic! In 2015 he earned fifth overall on the King of the Wood Contest hosted by Canada In The Rough team, pretty good for a baby boomer deer hunter. His buck was also one of the top bucks taken that season. Through Peter’s deer hunting seminars or by attending outdoor trade shows, like the Toronto Sportsmen Show and The SWOC Big Buck Show, he has connected with thousands of like minded people that love hunting and fishing. As a volunteer or member of local and national outdoor groups like QDMA, SWOC, Outdoor Writers of Canada, Archery Trade Show Association he continues to learn and hone his craft. Read his many articles, listen to his podcasts and rifle through thousands of photos on Ripple Outdoors. Discover Peter’s latest posts about outdoor gear, destinations, how to articles and interviews and you’ll be a better angler and hunter for the experience.