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Pleasure Craft Operator Card

Updated on October 7, 2014

Get the Card - It's the Law

Canada has now enacted federal legislation that requires all operators of motorized vessels to have the Pleasure Craft Operator Card, (PCOC). In a response to the years of boating accidents across the country, the government moved to authorize a standardized testing strategy for boaters. Phased in over time, the PCOC is now in effect for all operators of any powered vessel. This includes both electric and fuel operated engines. Rowboats, canoes and sailboats do not require the operator to have the card. If, however, a sailboat has an auxilliary engine, a card is required even if the vessel is under sail.

Luckily, the exam questions for the Pleasure Craft Operator Card are quite straightforward. Many of the questions are common sense oriented while the vessel operation ones require a little studying. There are many nuances to boating such as particular channel markers, colors for different bouys and rules for operating in restricted channels. Because these points were often the cause of accidents, it only makes sense for operators to know the standards before they start boating.

While the PCOC requirement is mainly for Canadians, some visitors to Canada may be subject to the law as well. Those who live in Canada for many months of the year may be required to obtain a card. Visitors renting a boat will have to thoroughly understand a dockside safety checklist which substitutes for the PCOC. The exams for the card are administrated online so everyone, even tourists, can easily get the card.

It's Important to Stay Safe on the Water

The ultimate goal of the Pleasure Craft Operator Card is to increase safety awareness among boaters. The preparation and test standardize some knowledge for all. As well, the holding of a PCOC for boaters is a requirement by law.

Pleasure Craft Operator Card Facts

If there is one constant with government, it is the fact that regulations change over time. This is true of the Pleasure Craft Operator Card. When it was first introduced, there were fewer questions on each exam. Early test takers studied the materials but had an easier exam by about 9 questions. Now there are 36 questions on each exam. The passing grade is 75%. Once a person passes the test, they never have to take the exam again. The PCOC is valid for life. It is a good idea to comply with the existing regulations regarding the test for the card. It will likely only get harder in the future and the fines for not having one will get higher.

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Pleasure Craft Operator Card Comments

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    • TransplantedSoul profile image


      6 years ago

      This is a good initiative. Let's hope it stays as a positive thing rather then as a tax-grab.


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