Canadian boaters entering other countries: "Boat Registration" document definition? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 18 Old 07-09-2019 Thread Starter
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Canadian boaters entering other countries: "Boat Registration" document definition?

I e-mailed the US Border information office and asked for clarification and didn't receive any. I also read the check in requirements in the Bahamas and they state simply that you need your "boat registration" document.

The last 2 sailboats I've owned have had no such document other than the "Transport Canada Pleasurecraft License". Is this TC license the same as a registration? No one can seem to answer that for me, although at the very least the US Customs didn't seem concerned (or didn't understand when I asked). I would hate for my first border crossing to be denied because the TCPC license and number on my bow don't count as a "registration". All my trucks\cars\ATVs\snowmobiles\trailers had a green registration card, I've never seen one for a boat before.

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post #2 of 18 Old 07-09-2019
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Re: Canadian boaters entering other countries: "Boat Registration" document definitio

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Originally Posted by Guyfromthenorth View Post
I e-mailed the US Border information office and asked for clarification and didn't receive any. I also read the check in requirements in the Bahamas and they state simply that you need your "boat registration" document.

The last 2 sailboats I've owned have had no such document other than the "Transport Canada Pleasurecraft License". Is this TC license the same as a registration? No one can seem to answer that for me, although at the very least the US Customs didn't seem concerned (or didn't understand when I asked). I would hate for my first border crossing to be denied because the TCPC license and number on my bow don't count as a "registration". All my trucks\cars\ATVs\snowmobiles\trailers had a green registration card, I've never seen one for a boat before.
I'm not entirely sure if i have what you are asking straight but if you are just visiting the US from Canada your boat can be either licensed (provincial with a license number on the bow—although this is a Transport Canada doc.) or registered (federal with a whole lot more regulations) and you will be fine.

Rereading this I noticed you mentioned the Bahamas. AFAIK a License is fine there as well but most people recommend registering your boat if travelling abroad because it better establishes ownership etc.

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Last edited by MacBlaze; 07-09-2019 at 02:38 PM.
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post #3 of 18 Old 07-09-2019 Thread Starter
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Re: Canadian boaters entering other countries: "Boat Registration" document definitio

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I'm not entirely sure if i have what you are asking straight but if you are just visiting the US from Canada your boat can be either licensed (provincial with a license number on the bow—although this is a Transport Canada doc.) or registered (federal with a whole lot more regulations) and you will be fine.
Thanks, yes I have the "license" in my name (bow numbers and proof of license document). I just see things like this on the Bahamas customs page:

ENTERING THE BAHAMAS BY BOAT
To enter The Islands Of The Bahamas, private vessels need the following:
a) One (1) copy of The Bahamas Customs Clearance Form PDF
b) One (1) Bahamas Immigration Card per person
c) Proof of Citizenship—Passport
d) Vessel registration documents (Vessel title / proof of ownership)

In Canada the "registration" documents are reserved (as best I can discern) for NON-pleasurecraft vessels. TC states all pleasurecraft must be "licensed". So I think it's just a terminology thing but like I said I'd hate to be turned away at a border because I have a "license" but not a "registration".

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post #4 of 18 Old 07-09-2019
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Re: Canadian boaters entering other countries: "Boat Registration" document definitio

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Originally Posted by Guyfromthenorth View Post
Thanks, yes I have the "license" in my name (bow numbers and proof of license document). I just see things like this on the Bahamas customs page:

ENTERING THE BAHAMAS BY BOAT
To enter The Islands Of The Bahamas, private vessels need the following:
a) One (1) copy of The Bahamas Customs Clearance Form PDF
b) One (1) Bahamas Immigration Card per person
c) Proof of Citizenship—Passport
d) Vessel registration documents (Vessel title / proof of ownership)

In Canada the "registration" documents are reserved (as best I can discern) for NON-pleasurecraft vessels. TC states all pleasurecraft must be "licensed". So I think it's just a terminology thing but like I said I'd hate to be turned away at a border because I have a "license" but not a "registration".
You can register a pleasurecraft. It is fairly involved with requirements to get an accurate tonnage measurement, name search etc. (https://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/marinesafet...tm#registering). I edited my above response about taking a licensed boat to the Bahamas. You "shouldn't" get turned away, but maybe someone who knows for sure will chime in.

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post #5 of 18 Old 07-09-2019 Thread Starter
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Re: Canadian boaters entering other countries: "Boat Registration" document definitio

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You can register a pleasurecraft. It is fairly involved with requirements to get an accurate tonnage measurement, name search etc. (https://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/marinesafet...tm#registering). I edited my above response about taking a licensed boat to the Bahamas. You "shouldn't" get turned away, but maybe someone who knows for sure will chime in.
Thanks Mac, I finally found someone who seems to know what they are talking about at the TC 800 number after being bounced a ton. It figures just after finally asking on the forums I find out.

Anyways, for anyone else wondering....

You do indeed need to REGISTER a pleasurecraft in Canada in order to travel into foreign nations. The LICENSE we all get is not considered a title or ownership. Only by registering a boat through the VESSEL REGISTRY system here will it be federally tracked and available for international bodies to confirm ownership by. It's 250$ and although the form isn't super user friendly it's not awful. They have a default 4.99 tonnage rating for any boats below 12m in length (~40ft).

I was hoping to leave later August, here's hoping they process it in time, that there isn't already a ghost registry done on this I'm not aware of, and that I filled it out right!

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post #6 of 18 Old 07-09-2019
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Re: Canadian boaters entering other countries: "Boat Registration" document definitio

Good to know. :-)

I wonder how this applies to travelling to the U.S. since I've done that many a time with my licensed boat...

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Re: Canadian boaters entering other countries: "Boat Registration" document definitio

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Good to know. :-)

I wonder how this applies to travelling to the U.S. since I've done that many a time with my licensed boat...
See that's why I got confused, because when I spoke with the US Customs and Border Officials they didn't seem to know or care the difference and basically said my "license" is good enough. I will say that the "license" may very well BE good enough, however I would hate to sail thousands of miles just to be denied entry over silly papers. The transport Canada official made sense when he told me that this is federal (the registration) and that it is the only document for proof of ownership you can get on a boat in Canada that is also searchable\accessible to foreign nations to confirm with.

Idk. 250$ to save the "pit of my stomach what if..." feeling as I go down the ICW. Seems worth it!

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post #8 of 18 Old 07-09-2019
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Re: Canadian boaters entering other countries: "Boat Registration" document definitio

You can certainly enter the USA with a Canadian licensed boat. I’ve done it. And I’ve never heard of anyone having a problem doing it. I’ve also heard the Bahamas is OK with a Canadian licensed boat, but I have no direct experience.

Registration used to be quite complex for recreational boaters, but I’ve heard it has been made a lot less onerous in recent years. Perhaps Boat Poker will see this thread. He’s a real expert in all things Canadian.

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post #9 of 18 Old 07-09-2019
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Re: Canadian boaters entering other countries: "Boat Registration" document definitio

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Originally Posted by Guyfromthenorth View Post

You do indeed need to REGISTER a pleasurecraft in Canada in order to travel into foreign nations.
This is absolutely incorrect.

I am a Transport Canada Appointed Tonnage measurer, Transport Canada Licensed Master and have delivered hundreds of boats (Licensed and Registered) between Canada and Antigua over the last 30 years.

Getting a cruising license in the US or Bahamas with a licensed Canadian Vessel is not problem at all.

Should you travel further, say down to Caribbean countries, then yes, it would be wise to Register your vessel as they are less used to seeing Canadian Licensed boats and lord knows you do not want to force customs people to think. There are hundreds of Canadian Licensed boats cruising US and Bahamian waters every year without issue.
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Last edited by boatpoker; 07-09-2019 at 09:30 PM.
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Re: Canadian boaters entering other countries: "Boat Registration" document definitio

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This is absolutely incorrect.

I am a Transport Canada Appointed Tonnage measurer, Transport Canada Licensed Master and have delivered hundreds of boats (Licensed and Registered) between Canada and Antigua over the last 30 years.

Getting a cruising license in the US or Bahamas with a licensed Canadian Vessel is not problem at all.

Should you travel further, say down to Caribbean countries, then yes, it would be wise to Register your vessel as they are less used to seeing Canadian Licensed boats and lord knows you do not want to force customs people to think. There are hundreds of Canadian Licensed boats cruising US and Bahamian waters every year without issue.
Thanks Poker, I'm just going off what the TC rep on the phone told me. You can see how back and forth this issue is, it shouldn't be so muddy for something that should be straight forward. Either way I faxed off my paperwork yesterday, it's 250$ but I'll sleep good at night knowing I will have the papers in hand -just in case-.
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