What is a Boat Transcript of Registry? | Canadian Vessel Transcripts Explained

Transcript of Registry In Canada for Boats and Ships

Canadian Vessels and ships that are commercial are registered with Transport Canada. This is similar to the US vessel documentation. If your boat is only used for pleasure (guests don’t pay to board), then you only need to license the boat at the provincial level (PCL) rather than register it at the federal level. Commercial (non-pleasure) vessels that are 15 gross tons or less will be registered in the small vessel register.

A Certificate of Registry is valid for three years and is issued to the owner or the authorized representative 30 days before it expires. To ensure that your Certificate of Registry remains valid, you must report any change(s) to the information shown on the Certificate of Registry, including a change of address, in writing, within 30 days of having made the changes. If you do not, your registration may be suspended or canceled.

Anyone operating a vessel with an invalid document violates the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and is liable to prosecution. A Certificate of Registry should not be laminated. For some authorities, laminating a certificate would invalidate it as an official document. Once a document has been laminated, it is no longer available for definitive review to determine its validity or authenticity. It is recommended to keep the Certificate in a plastic bag, pouch, etc. to protect it.

Just like the Boat Abstract of Title in the USA, you can obtain a report from Transport Canada about the registered vessel showing owner information along with lots of useful information listed below. This report is the Transcript of Registry.

Podcast: Transcript of Registry for Canadian Vessels

What information is in a Transcript of Registry for Canadian Vessels

  • Vessel Name
  • IMO Number
  • Port of Registry
  • Date Of Registry
  • Certificate Expiry Date
  • Certificate Cancellation Date
  • Vessel Type
  • Former Vessel Name
  • Former Port of Registry
  • BUILDER INFORMATION + Where the vessel was built (city/town/other; province/state; country)
  • Construction Material
  • Engine information
  • dimensions and tonnage
  • Owner name and address
  • co-owner and previous owners
  • Authorized Representative name and address
  • Number of Encumbrances and Injunctions

Transport Canada – Ship Registration Computer System

Transport Canada issues the Vessel Transcripts. Here is a Sample PDF report of a Canadian boat “Transcript of Registry” that you can download as an example. There are brokers that help you get one if you have your boat official number available on hand. The prices vary and the order process can be long due to the forms you need to fill but one company makes it easy with a simple and secure PayPal order process.

Order yours at:

Important things to note before ordering a Transcript:

  1. Online transcript orders are not available for vessels registered in the Small Vessel Register or licenced in the Pleasure Craft Licence System. Commercial (non-pleasure) vessels that are 15 gross tons or less at in the small vessel register. 
  2. Mortgages or Assignments are not permitted in the Small Vessel Register.
  3. An uncertified transcript does not reflect pending transactions the Vessel Registration Office may have received but has not yet processed.

What about really old historical boats in Canada (pre-1966)

The Ship Registration Index database contains more than 78,000 entries of old ships registered in ports of Canada between 1787 and 1966. Ship Registration (the documentation of ownership or title) was implemented in the late 1700s to ensure that ships transporting goods in the British Empire were built and managed by British citizens, including citizens from the colonies. This system continues, but with different objectives.

You can search that database here: https://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/ship-registration-index-1787-1966/Pages/ship-registration.aspx

You will find the following information on those historic Canadian boats:

the name of the ship
year of registration (YYYY-YYYY)
type of vessel
where the vessel was built (city/town/other; province/state; country)
date of construction (YYYY)
gross and net tonnage
remarks (mainly on the fate of the ship)
official number
reference for the physical registers or microfilm reels
Name of vessel
Year of registration
Type of vessel
Port of registry
Where built (province/state or country)
Official number

Search link here.

Is there a free search for Canadian boats?

No, not for licensed pleasure craft (PCL) but there is for federal registered boats (commercial). You can use the Vessel Registration Query System to find general information on vessels registered either of the Canadian Register of Vessels or Small Vessel Register. Boat-Alert.com can search PCL boats as well for a fee.

The link to the Transport Canada Vessel Registration Query System: https://wwwapps.tc.gc.ca/Saf-Sec-Sur/4/vrqs-srib/eng/vessel-registrations/advanced-search

Important note: In the event that this information is required for legal or official purposes, it is recommended to obtain a certified Transcript of Registry.

To get the Canadian vessel history, order and pay for each page individually here https://tc.canada.ca/en/marine-transportation/vessel-licensing-registration/researching-registered-vessel-get-vessel-history

Infographic - What is a Boat Transcript of Registry in Canada
Infographic – What is a Boat Transcript of Registry in Canada


Yes, if your vessel is over 10 hp and it has not been registered in the Canadian Register of Vessels. A pleasure craft licence provides a unique identification number – commonly referred to as the “licence number” – that you must display on your recreational vessel, as required under the Small Vessel Regulations of the Canada Shipping Act, 2001. This licence number helps law-enforcement and search and rescue officials trace a pleasure craft to its owner but is not an actual title.

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