What are the Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC) requirements for occasional visitors to Canadian waters?
Non-residents are subject to the same regulations as residents: An operator card is required if the boat you plan to use is more than four metres long. This applies even if you bring your own boat or borrow a friend’s. But, if you’d rather not be writing the test when you could be relaxing on the dock, you can get an equivalent card in your own state. Canada has a reciprocal agreement with the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA), so that NASBLA-approved cards are recognized here and PCOCs are recognized abroad.
Strange as it seems, you don’t need a card to rent a boat. That’s because the rental company is required to take customers through a “dockside checklist” (a screening process) before letting you loose on the water. Canadian boat-rental companies have worked with the Canadian Coast Guard’s Office of Boating Safety to develop the checklist, which is incorporated into the rental contract. It will allow you to operate a specific rental vessel for a stated time period on a stated body of water without having a card.