Boating Safety

Having the right equipment on board will prepare you to respond if something goes wrong. Transport Canada publishes a Safe Boating Guide every year. This guide is used to promote safe and responsible boating practices and contains a basic overview of boating safety including: Equipment Requirements and Use, Enforcement, Pre-departure Information and Rules for Road and Water Safety.

To view the electronic guide please see the Transport Canada's Safe Boating Guide.

The following is a guideline to assist customers in meeting minimum safety requirements but does not replace applicable boating regulations. 

To find out what the required safety equipment is for your vessel, choose from the options below. Please remember that boating laws change from time to time. To ensure you have the most accurate information, we always recommend that you view the current Safe Boating Guide.

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  • Paddleboats, Watercycles, Sealed-Hull Kayaks and Sit-on-Top Kayaks

    • If everyone on board is wearing a lifejacket or a PFD of appropriate size, you are only required to carry:

    • 1. a sound signalling device
    • 2. watertight flashlight if the boat is used after sunset, before sunrise or in periods of restricted visibility

    • Otherwise, the following is required.

    • Personal Lifesaving Appliances
    • 1. One (1) lifejacket or PFD for each person on board
    • 2. One (1) reboarding device if the vertical height a person must climb to reboard (freeboard) is over 0.5m
    • 3. One (1) buoyant heaving line at least 15m long

    • Visual Signals - if boat is over 6m
    • 1. One (1) watertight flashlight
    • 2. Six (6) flares of type A, B, or C

    • Note: flares are not required for a boat that:
    • a. is operating on a river, canal or lake in which it can never be more than 1.852 km (1 nautical mile) from shore; OR
    • b. has no sleeping quarters and is engaged in or in final preparation for an official competition

    • Vessel Safety Equipment
    • 1. One (1) bailer OR One (1) manual bilge pump OR bilge pumping arrangements

    • Note: a bailer or manual bilge pump is not required for a boat that:
    • a. cannot hold enough water to capsize; OR
    • b. has watertight compartments that are sealed and not readily accessible

    • Navigation Equipment
    • 1. One (1) sound signalling device or appliance
    • 2. Navigation lights if the boat is operated after sunset, before sunrise or in periods of restricted viability (fog, falling snow, etc.)
    • 3. One (1) magnetic compass if boat is greater than 8m and operated out of sight of navigation marks
    • 4. One (1) radar reflector

    • Note: a radar reflector is required for all boats under 20 m and boats made of mostly non-metallic materials. A radar reflector is not required if the boat is:
    • a. used in limited traffic conditions, favourable environmental conditions and daylight, and where having a radar reflector is not essential to boat safety; OR
    • b. of small size or its operation away from radar navigation makes it impossible to install/use a radar reflector

    • No fire fighting equipment is required.

  • Canoes, Kayaks, Rowboats, Rowing Shells, and Other Human-Powered Boats

    • Personal Lifesaving Appliances
    • 1. One (1) lifejacket or PFD for each person on board
    • 2. One (1) reboarding device if the vertical height a person must climb to reboard (freeboard) is over 0.5m
    • 3. One (1) buoyant heaving line at least 15m long

    • Visual Signals - if boat is over 6m
    • 1. One (1) watertight flashlight
    • 2. Six (6) flares of type A, B, or C

    • Note: flares are not required for a boat that:
    • a. is operating on a river, canal or lake in which it can never be more than 1.852 km (1 nautical mile) from shore; OR
    • b. has no sleeping quarters and is engaged in or in final preparation for an official competition

    • Vessel Safety Equipment
    • 1. One (1) bailer OR One (1) manual bilge pump OR bilge pumping arrangements

    • Note: a bailer or manual bilge pump is not required for a boat that:
    • a. cannot hold enough water to capsize; OR
    • b. has watertight compartments that are sealed and not readily accessible

    • Navigation Equipment
    • 1. One (1) sound signalling device or appliance
    • 2. Navigation lights if the boat is operated after sunset, before sunrise or in periods of restricted viability (fog, falling snow, etc.)
    • 3. One (1) magnetic compass if boat is greater than 8m and operated out of sight of navigation marks
    • 4. One (1) radar reflector

    • Note: a radar reflector is required for all boats under 20 m and boats made of mostly non-metallic materials. A radar reflector is not required if the boat is:
    • a. used in limited traffic conditions, favourable environmental conditions and daylight, and where having a radar reflector is not essential to boat safety; OR
    • b. of small size or its operation away from radar navigation makes it impossible to install/use a radar reflector

    • No fire fighting equipment is required.

  • Sailboards and Kiteboards

    • If everyone on board is wearing a lifejacket or a PFD of appropriate size, you are only required to carry:

    • 1. a sound signalling device
    • 2. watertight flashlight if the boat is used after sunset, before sunrise or in periods of restricted visibility

    • Otherwise, the following is required.

    • Personal Lifesaving Appliances
    • 1. One (1) lifejacket or PFD for each person on board
    • 2. One (1) reboarding device if the vertical height a person must climb to reboard (freeboard) is over 0.5m
    • 3. One (1) buoyant heaving line at least 15m long

    • Vessel Safety Equipment
    • 1. One (1) maual propelling device OR One (1) anchor and at least 15m of cable, rope and/or chain

    • 1. One (1) bailer OR One (1) manual bilge pump

    • Note: a bailer or manual bilge pump is not required for a boat that:
    • a. cannot hold enough water to capsize; OR
    • b. has watertight compartments that are sealed and not readily accessible

    • Navigation Equipment
    • 1. One (1) sound signalling device or appliance
    • 2. Navigation lights if the boat is operated after sunset, before sunrise or in periods of restricted viability (fog, falling snow, etc.)
    • 3. One (1) magnetic compass if boat is greater than 8m and operated out of sight of navigation marks
    • 4. One (1) radar reflector

    • Note: a radar reflector is required for all boats under 20 m and boats made of mostly non-metallic materials. A radar reflector is not required if the boat is:
    • a. used in limited traffic conditions, favourable environmental conditions and daylight, and where having a radar reflector is not essential to boat safety; OR
    • b. of small size or its operation away from radar navigation makes it impossible to install/use a radar reflector

    • No fire fighting equipment is required.

    • No visual signals are required.

  • Personal Watercraft (PWC)

    • If everyone on board is wearing a lifejacket or a PFD of appropriate size, you are only required to carry:

    • 1. a sound signalling device
    • 2. watertight flashlight if the boat is used after sunset, before sunrise or in periods of restricted visibility
    • 3. a magnetic compass if the PWC is navigated out of sight of navigation
    • 4. navigation lights if PWC is used after sunset, before sunrise or in periods of restricted visability

    • Otherwise, the following is required.

    • Personal Lifesaving Appliances
    • 1. One (1) lifejacket or PFD for each person on board
    • 2. One (1) reboarding device if the vertical height a person must climb to reboard (freeboard) is over 0.5m
    • 3. One (1) buoyant heaving line at least 15m long

    • Visual Signals - if boat is over 6m
    • 1. One (1) watertight flashlight OR Three (3) flares of type A, B, or C

    • Note: flares are not required for a boat that:
    • a. is operating on a river, canal or lake in which it can never be more than 1.852 km (1 nautical mile) from shore; OR
    • b. has no sleeping quarters and is engaged in or in final preparation for an official competition

    • Vessel Safety Equipment
    • 1. One (1) maual propelling device OR One (1) anchor and at least 15m of cable, rope and/or chain

    • 1. One (1) bailer OR One (1) manual bilge pump

    • Note: a bailer or manual bilge pump is not required for a boat that:
    • a. cannot hold enough water to capsize; OR
    • b. has watertight compartments that are sealed and not readily accessible

    • Navigation Equipment
    • 1. One (1) sound signalling device or appliance
    • 2. Navigation lights if the boat is operated after sunset, before sunrise or in periods of restricted viability (fog, falling snow, etc.)
    • 3. One (1) magnetic compass if boat is greater than 8m and operated out of sight of navigation marks
    • 4. One (1) radar reflector

    • Note: a radar reflector is required for all boats under 20 m and boats made of mostly non-metallic materials. A radar reflector is not required if the boat is:
    • a. used in limited traffic conditions, favourable environmental conditions and daylight, and where having a radar reflector is not essential to boat safety; OR
    • b. of small size or its operation away from radar navigation makes it impossible to install/use a radar reflector

    • Fire Fighting Equipment
    • 1. One (1) 5BC fire extinguisher

  • Sail and Power Boats up to 6 m (19'8")

    • Personal Lifesaving Appliances
    • 1. One (1) lifejacket or PFD for each person on board
    • 2. One (1) reboarding device if the vertical height a person must climb to reboard (freeboard) is over 0.5m
    • 3. One (1) buoyant heaving line at least 15m long

    • Visual Signals - if boat is equipped with motor
    • 1. One (1) watertight flashlight OR Three (3) flares of type A, B, or C

    • Note: flares are not required for a boat that:
    • a. is operating on a river, canal or lake in which it can never be more than 1.852 km (1 nautical mile) from shore; OR
    • b. has no sleeping quarters and is engaged in or in final preparation for an official competition

    • Vessel Safety Equipment
    • 1. One (1) maual propelling device OR One (1) anchor and at least 15m of cable, rope and/or chain

    • 1. One (1) bailer OR One (1) manual bilge pump

    • Note: a bailer or manual bilge pump is not required for a boat that:
    • a. cannot hold enough water to capsize; OR
    • b. has watertight compartments that are sealed and not readily accessible

    • Navigation Equipment
    • 1. One (1) sound signalling device or appliance
    • 2. Navigation lights if the boat is operated after sunset, before sunrise or in periods of restricted viability (fog, falling snow, etc.)
    • 3. One (1) magnetic compass if boat is greater than 8m and operated out of sight of navigation marks
    • 4. One (1) radar reflector

    • Note: a radar reflector is required for all boats under 20 m and boats made of mostly non-metallic materials. A radar reflector is not required if the boat is:
    • a. used in limited traffic conditions, favourable environmental conditions and daylight, and where having a radar reflector is not essential to boat safety; OR
    • b. of small size or its operation away from radar navigation makes it impossible to install/use a radar reflector

    • Fire Fighting Equipment
    • 1. One (1) 5BC fire extinguisher if equipped with an inboard engine, a fixed fuel tank of any size, or a fuel-burning cooking, heating or refrigerating appliance

  • Sail and Power Boats over 6 m and up to 9 m (19'8" - 29'6")

    • Personal Lifesaving Appliances
    • 1. One (1) lifejacket or PFD for each person on board
    • 2. One (1) reboarding device if the vertical height a person must climb to reboard (freeboard) is over 0.5m
    • 3. One (1) buoyant heaving line at least 15m long or one (1) lifebuoy attached to a buoyant line at least 15m long

    • Visual Signals - if boat is over 6m
    • 1. One (1) watertight flashlight
    • 2. Six (6) flares of type A, B, or C

    • Note: flares are not required for a boat that:
    • a. is operating on a river, canal or lake in which it can never be more than 1.852 km (1 nautical mile) from shore; OR
    • b. has no sleeping quarters and is engaged in or in final preparation for an official competition

    • Vessel Safety Equipment
    • 1. One (1) maual propelling device OR One (1) anchor and at least 15m of cable, rope and/or chain

    • 1. One (1) bailer OR One (1) manual bilge pump

    • Note: a bailer or manual bilge pump is not required for a boat that:
    • a. cannot hold enough water to capsize; OR
    • b. has watertight compartments that are sealed and not readily accessible

    • Navigation Equipment
    • 1. One (1) sound signalling device or appliance
    • 2. Navigation lights if the boat is operated after sunset, before sunrise or in periods of restricted viability (fog, falling snow, etc.)
    • 3. One (1) magnetic compass if boat is greater than 8m and operated out of sight of navigation marks
    • 4. One (1) radar reflector

    • Note: a radar reflector is required for all boats under 20 m and boats made of mostly non-metallic materials. A radar reflector is not required if the boat is:
    • a. used in limited traffic conditions, favourable environmental conditions and daylight, and where having a radar reflector is not essential to boat safety; OR
    • b. of small size or its operation away from radar navigation makes it impossible to install/use a radar reflector

    • Fire Fighting Equipment
    • 1. One (1) 5BC fire extinguisher if equipped with a motor
    • 2. One (1) 5BC extinguisher if equipped with a fuel-burning cooking, heating or refrigerating appliance

  • Sail and Power Boats over 9 m and up to 12 m (29'6" - 39'4")

    • Personal Lifesaving Appliances
    • 1. One (1) lifejacket or PFD for each person on board
    • 2. One (1) reboarding device if the vertical height a person must climb to reboard (freeboard) is over 0.5m
    • 3. One (1) buoyant heaving line at least 15m long
    • 4. One (1) lifebuoy equipped with self igniting light or attached to a buoyant line at least 15m long
    • Visual Signals - if boat is over 6m
    • 1. One (1) watertight flashlight
    • 2. Twelve (12) flares of type A, B, C, or D, not more than six (6) of which are type D

    • Note: flares are not required for a boat that:
    • a. is operating on a river, canal or lake in which it can never be more than 1.852 km (1 nautical mile) from shore; OR
    • b. has no sleeping quarters and is engaged in or in final preparation for an official competition

    • Vessel Safety Equipment
    • 1. One (1) anchor and at least 50m of cable, rope and/or chain
    • 2. Bilge pumping arrangements or (1) manual bilge pump
    • Note: a bailer or manual bilge pump is not required for a boat that:
    • a. cannot hold enough water to capsize; OR
    • b. has watertight compartments that are sealed and not readily accessible

    • Navigation Equipment
    • 1. One (1) sound signalling device or appliance
    • 2. Navigation lights if the boat is operated after sunset, before sunrise or in periods of restricted viability (fog, falling snow, etc.)
    • 3. One (1) magnetic compass if boat is greater than 8m and operated out of sight of navigation marks
    • 4. One (1) radar reflector

    • Note: a radar reflector is required for all boats under 20 m and boats made of mostly non-metallic materials. A radar reflector is not required if the boat is:
    • a. used in limited traffic conditions, favourable environmental conditions and daylight, and where having a radar reflector is not essential to boat safety; OR
    • b. of small size or its operation away from radar navigation makes it impossible to install/use a radar reflector

    • Fire Fighting Equipment
    • 1. One (1) 10BC fire extinguisher if equipped with a motor
    • 2. One (1) 10BC extinguisher if equipped with a fuel-burning cooking, heating or refrigerating appliance

    • 2. One (1) axe
    • 3. Two (2) buckets of at least 10L each
  • Sail and Power Boats over 12 m and up to 24 m (39'4" - 78'9")

    • Personal Lifesaving Appliances
    • 1. One (1) lifejacket or PFD for each person on board
    • 2. One (1) reboarding device if the vertical height a person must climb to reboard (freeboard) is over 0.5m
    • 3. One (1) buoyant heaving line at least 15m long
    • 4. One (1) lifebuoy equipped with self igniting light or attached to a buoyant line at least 15m long
    • Visual Signals - if boat is over 6m
    • 1. One (1) watertight flashlight
    • 2. Twelve (12) flares of type A, B, C, or D, not more than six (6) of which are type D

    • Note: flares are not required for a boat that:
    • a. is operating on a river, canal or lake in which it can never be more than 1.852 km (1 nautical mile) from shore; OR
    • b. has no sleeping quarters and is engaged in or in final preparation for an official competition

    • Vessel Safety Equipment
    • 1. One (1) anchor and at least 50m of cable, rope and/or chain
    • 2. Bilge pumping arrangements

    • Navigation Equipment
    • 1. One (1) sound signalling device or appliance (Two (2) required if the boat is over 20m or over) that meets the applicable standards set out in the collision regulations
    • 2. Navigation lights if the boat is operated after sunset, before sunrise or in periods of restricted viability (fog, falling snow, etc.)
    • 3. One (1) magnetic compass if boat is greater than 8m and operated out of sight of navigation marks
    • 4. One (1) radar reflector

    • Note: a radar reflector is required for all boats under 20 m and boats made of mostly non-metallic materials. A radar reflector is not required if the boat is:
    • a. used in limited traffic conditions, favourable environmental conditions and daylight, and where having a radar reflector is not essential to boat safety; OR
    • b. of small size or its operation away from radar navigation makes it impossible to install/use a radar reflector

    • Fire Fighting Equipment
    • 1. One (1) 10BC fire extinguisher at all of the following locations
    • a. at each access to any space where a fuel-burning cooking, heating or refrigerating appliance is fitted
    • b. at the entrance to any accommodation space; and
    • c. at the entrance to the machinery space
    • 2. One (1) axe
    • 3. Two (2) buckets of at least 10L each
  • Sail and Power Boats over 24 m (78'9")

    • Personal Lifesaving Appliances
    • 1. One (1) lifejacket or PFD for each person on board
    • 2. One (1) reboarding device if the vertical height a person must climb to reboard (freeboard) is over 0.5m
    • 3. One (1) buoyant heaving line at least 15m long
    • 4. Two (2) SOLAS lifebuoys of which:
    • a. One (1) is attached to a buoyant line at least 30 m long
    • b. One (1) is equipped with a self-igniting light
    • 5. Lifting harness with appropriate rigging

    • Visual Signals - if boat is over 6m
    • 1. One (1) watertight flashlight
    • 2. Twelve (12) flares of type A, B, C, or D, not more than six (6) of which are type D

    • Note: flares are not required for a boat that:
    • a. is operating on a river, canal or lake in which it can never be more than 1.852 km (1 nautical mile) from shore; OR
    • b. has no sleeping quarters and is engaged in or in final preparation for an official competition

    • Vessel Safety Equipment
    • 1. One (1) anchor and at least 50m of cable, rope and/or chain
    • 2. Bilge pumping arrangements

    • Navigation Equipment
    • 1. Two (2) sound signalling device or appliance that meet applicable standards of collision regulations
    • 2. Navigation lights if the boat is operated after sunset, before sunrise or in periods of restricted viability (fog, falling snow, etc.)
    • 3. One (1) magnetic compass if boat is greater than 8m and operated out of sight of navigation marks
    • 4. One (1) radar reflector

    • Note: a radar reflector is required for all boats under 20 m and boats made of mostly non-metallic materials. A radar reflector is not required if the boat is:
    • a. used in limited traffic conditions, favourable environmental conditions and daylight, and where having a radar reflector is not essential to boat safety; OR
    • b. of small size or its operation away from radar navigation makes it impossible to install/use a radar reflector

    • Fire Fighting Equipment
    • 1. One (1) 10BC fire extinguisher at all of the following locations
    • a. at each access to any space where a fuel-burning cooking, heating or refrigerating appliance is fitted
    • b. at the entrance to any accommodation space; and
    • c. at the entrance to the machinery space
    • 2. One (1) power-driven fire pump located outside the machinery space, with one fire hose and nozzle that can direct water into any part of the boat
    • 2. Two (2) axe
    • 3. Four (4) buckets of at least 10L each