Top 5 Things to Know about Buying a Boat in Canada

Buying your first boat can be a life-changing experience. For most, it’s the realization of a dream that may have been many years in the making. After attending boat shows and scanning through pages of ads, you finally settle on the right boat for you. Deciding to finally take the plunge is exciting and it is a decision that you probably didn’t take lightly.

But what comes next?

These 5 simple steps will ensure the entire process is seamless so that you can make the most of this monumental occasion.


1. Make sure the boat meets Canadian construction standards

Every boat for sale in Canada must have a hull serial number. This number has been mandatory on boats since 1981 and it’s a number that is placed on the hull of every boat in Canada by manufacturers and importers. It certifies that the boat meets the Canadian construction standards. Before you buy a boat, be sure there’s a serial number on the hull and don’t hesitate to ask the seller to add it before you buy!

2. Check for a Canadian Compliance Notice

Any boat with a motor in Canada is required to have a Canadian Compliance Notice. This shows that the boat met Canadian construction standards when it was first built. Keep in mind that changes to the boat over time mean that this is not a good indication of its sailing condition, but it is still required that this notice is always carried on board your boat.

If you’re importing a boat that was built outside of Canada, it won’t have a Canadian Compliance Notice, so you’ll need to be sure it meets Canadian standards on your own. A compliance notice is not required for any imported vessel meant for personal use. Be prepared to present paperwork to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) with information about your boat, the seller, and to confirm the sale and any taxes due.

3. Hire a marine surveyor to inspect the boat

Even with a Canadian Compliance Notice and a hull serial number, it’s always a good idea to do your own inspection of the boat. Even if you have years of experience around boats, a professional marine surveyor is still the best way to ensure your boat is safe for personal use. They’ll also know specific regulations about construction that can help you feel confident that your boat meets Canadian standards of construction. Please contact us for a recommendation of a reliable and professional marine surveyor in your area.

4. Check for any mortgages on the boat

Before you commit to buying a boat, you’ll want to be sure the current owner doesn’t have any liens or legal cases against the boat. Once the registration is transferred over, you will be responsible for anything related to the vessel, so be sure to review the paperwork thoroughly and get expert help if needed. Sometimes involving a marine lawyer will be necessary and that is something Vessel Registration Canada could always assist with.


5. Register your boat

In Canada, you are required to register most vessels (or obtain a pleasure craft licence for it. Registering your boat has many more advantages, however. Primarily, registering a vessel entails having legal proof of ownership that is internationally recognized so you can travel with your vessel.

The process can be challenging and may require working with Transport Canada to complete the registration, so consider working with us at Vessel Registration Canada for all your boat registration needs.



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