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Old 09-03-2015, 13:50   #1
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Licensing a vessel versus registering it

Having recently acquired an Irwin 43, my wife and I are looking to change the ownership, the name and the port of registry of the vessel. Dealing with Transport Canada has so far proven to be a very bureaucratic, frustrating, EXPENSIVE and as yet a boat when unsuccessful undertaking.
It has been suggested that I not bother with the registration but instead simply license the vessel and put on appropriate provincial license numbers.
Does anyone have any first hand knowledge about travelling in a licensed boat versus in a registered vessel when travelling in Canadian, US, and Caribbean waters. Does one approach have any benefits or drawbacks when compared to the other?
Would appreciate any and all useful insight.
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Old 09-03-2015, 17:05   #2
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Re: Licensing a vessel versus registering it

Registration proves ownership and nationality of the boat. Licensing does not. Licensing is cheaper, and if you plan on never leaving the country, that is the way to go. Most recreational owners license their vessel, and the license numbers which look something like 50E-12345 goes on each side of the bow. They often also name the boat, but that is just for tits and giggles.

Registering the boat costs more and I believe there is a recurring fee every 3 years. Details of the boat make, previous owners, affidavits might need to be signed, gross tonnage, length, beam, depth, type of propulsion etc are required. The boat is registered by its name alone and the Port of Registry on the transom. There is no number displayed on the boat. The port of registry (town/city listed by Transport Canada closest to your home port), not your marina, it has to be an official Port of Registry.

We registered and it was a pain. We provided the history back for 40 years and calculated tonnage. We did this because we were going into the U.S. And eventually plan on going to the Bahamas. Anyway, it turns out there is no issue entering the U.S. With a Licensed boat. The Customs Officers kept asking me for the boat's registration number. I said it didn't have one, because it is Registered not Licensed. I worked for years with FedEx and know never to argue with customs. So I asked them to give me a minute and I retired my registry documentation. I found a number on it called the "Official Number", gave that to them, and they were happy.

Hope this helps.


Whalin
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Old 09-03-2015, 17:14   #3
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Re: Licensing a vessel versus registering it

Another thing....when registering you can divide the ownership up by 64ths. I split mine 4 ways, so that my kids can inherit the boat at no cost.

And no two boats can have the same name in a port of registry. You provide Transport Canada a list of names and they will tell you what you will call the boat from that list. I got my second pick!


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Old 09-03-2015, 21:40   #4
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Re: Licensing a vessel versus registering it

I think it's no two same registered names in the entire country, not just the same port of registry!

I did a search on the Canadian Vessel Registry here Vessel Registration Query System to make sure my name was available.

When I got the boat it was licensed, but I'm in the middle of registering it, I submitted the paperwork 5 weeks ago and it's still ongoing. They let you know within a few days if the name you selected is accepted though. It's weird cos the Industry Canada guys who deal with the MMSI numbers are extremely fast.

I registered it because then I could put the name on the bow (since it's the boats ID, not a number) and I heard it's easier to enter other countries. I also like knowing that mine is the only registered boat with that name in Canada.

One funny little tidbit is that it is not legal to fly a Canadian flag from a licensed vessel, only a registered one!
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Old 10-03-2015, 09:47   #5
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Re: Licensing a vessel versus registering it

One funny little tidbit is that it is not legal to fly a Canadian flag from a licensed vessel, only a registered one!

From the Canadian Heritage Site:

"Flown on ships and boats
The National Flag of Canada is the proper national colours for all Canadian ships and boats, including pleasure craft. The Canadian Shipping Act states that a Canadian ship shall hoist the flag on a signal being made to her by one of Her Majesty's Canadian ships, or any ship in the service of and belonging to the Government of Canada; on entering or leaving any foreign port; and if of 50 tonnes gross tonnage or upwards, on entering or leaving any Commonwealth port."

Where did you see that you had to be registered to fly a flag?
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Old 10-03-2015, 09:48   #6
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Re: Licensing a vessel versus registering it

Thanks so much folks. You've brought up a number of points that I was unaware of.
I think we'll go the licensing route since:
1) then we can use whatever name we want to...... whether it's already in use by someone else or not.
2) the licensing process is much cheaper. It was going to cost us approx. $700 to change ownership on registration, change name, and change port of registry!
3) the nearest registry port is nowhere close to our actual home port.
4) we simply need to carry the Bill of Sale as proof of ownership.

Thanks again for the info.
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Old 10-03-2015, 09:56   #7
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Re: Licensing a vessel versus registering it

In response to the comments:
[From the Canadian Heritage Site:

"Flown on ships and boats
The National Flag of Canada is the proper national colours for all Canadian ships and boats, including pleasure craft. The Canadian
Shipping Act states that a Canadian ship shall hoist the flag on a signal being made to her by one of Her Majesty's Canadian ships, or any ship in the service of and belonging to the Government of Canada; on entering or leaving any foreign port; and if of 50 tonnes gross tonnage or upwards, on entering or leaving any Commonwealth port."

Where did you see that you had to be registered to fly a flag? ]


All registered vessels in Canada are considered to be "in the service of and belonging to the Government of Canada" in times of war, disaster, etc.." This is not the case with licensed boats.
That said, I wasn't aware that licensed boats weren't allowed to carry the Canadian flag.
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Old 10-03-2015, 10:07   #8
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Re: Licensing a vessel versus registering it

Quote:
Originally Posted by whalin View Post
Another thing....when registering you can divide the ownership up by 64ths. I split mine 4 ways, so that my kids can inherit the boat at no cost.

And no two boats can have the same name in a port of registry. You provide Transport Canada a list of names and they will tell you what you will call the boat from that list. I got my second pick!


Whalin
Most of the Commonwealth countries seem to use some variant of the UK system. Australia only switched from the UK register in the 80s. Ownership is in 64ths, an official number is issued, the boat is named and has a home port.

Interestingly the Australian forms only give you a limited choice of ports but the Australian parliament have on record no objection to using any Australian city or town as the port. If you really want a particular port it might be worth pursuing.

We fitted a brass plaque with the original USCG number, and shipbuilders number which is fibreglassed into the boat. We included the new Aussie number, the official length, name, port and the liberty bell logo to provide full provenance.

The Australian ships register also issue you with a certificate which we keep copies of on board. The original is in a safety deposit box. This defines ownership and is internationally recognized.

The cost in Australia is $1100 and is for life. It took 11 months to process and finalize from the US. Mostly because they kept requesting information already provided or not on their forms.

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Old 10-03-2015, 10:12   #9
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Re: Licensing a vessel versus registering it

Quote:
Originally Posted by bcboomer View Post
One funny little tidbit is that it is not legal to fly a Canadian flag from a licensed vessel, only a registered one!

From the Canadian Heritage Site:

"Flown on ships and boats
The National Flag of Canada is the proper national colours for all Canadian ships and boats, including pleasure craft. The Canadian Shipping Act states that a Canadian ship shall hoist the flag on a signal being made to her by one of Her Majesty's Canadian ships, or any ship in the service of and belonging to the Government of Canada; on entering or leaving any foreign port; and if of 50 tonnes gross tonnage or upwards, on entering or leaving any Commonwealth port."

Where did you see that you had to be registered to fly a flag?
I assumed it because of the following bit from Transport Canada website at Pleasure Craft Licences: Questions and Answers - Transport Canada

Quote:
The Canadian Register of Vessels is a title system that keeps track of the owners of vessels. It contains information on each vessel such as ownership and vessel characteristics, e.g. tonnage, construction material and type. When you register, you receive an official number for your vessel, as well as a unique name. It also provides certain benefits, such as the right to fly the Canadian flag.
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Old 10-03-2015, 10:19   #10
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Re: Licensing a vessel versus registering it

In addition to the good information already put forward, you do not pay Hst when you acquire a CDN registered vessel and complete the transfer of ownership. Your provincial government will come after the sales tax if you have not paid it up.
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Old 10-03-2015, 13:43   #11
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Re: Licensing a vessel versus registering it

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In addition to the good information already put forward, you do not pay Hst when you acquire a CDN registered vessel and complete the transfer of ownership. Your provincial government will come after the sales tax if you have not paid it up.
There is no such thing as PST in Ontario or any other HST Province. You will pay HST regardless, whether you register or license. If you purchase a boat outside of Canada and never bring it to Canada, you can register without paying HST, GST AND PST (whatever applies in your province)

There can be problems if your boat is licensed if you plan to take it to another country. There are problems in the US and I have heard some French islands will not allow you to clear in with a licensed boat. I don't know if this is true or not

There is no annual or tri-annual fee. There is the initial registration fee, however.

Bottom line for me would be whether or not I was taking the boat out of the country.
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Old 10-03-2015, 15:00   #12
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Re: Licensing a vessel versus registering it

You DON't have to register a boat in Canada. ONLY if it is for commercial use. I bought my boat three years ago, never changed registration, and I have a bill of sale to prove ownership. I did keep the old name of the boat as I understand it is bad luck to change names. Also I figure I pay enough taxes in Canada I certainly will not give the government any more!
Canadian Register of Vessels - Transport Canada
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Old 10-03-2015, 16:21   #13
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Re: Licensing a vessel versus registering it

No need to register a boat in Canada. I bought a boat that was registered there three years ago and have been sailing it since in the Caribbean. I have a bill of sale and that is satisfactory wherever I have been. No need to spend your money on the government unless you maybe want to change the name of the vessel. I understand that that is bad luck though. I posted this before but it didn't seem to go through. From transport Canada website
"Mandatory and Optional Registration
Mandatory registration of vessels:
46. (1) A vessel must be registered under this part if it

is not a pleasure craft;
is wholly owned by qualified persons; and
is not registered, listed or otherwise recorded in a foreign state."
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Old 10-03-2015, 16:31   #14
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Re: Licensing a vessel versus registering it

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gamechanger View Post
when travelling in Canadian, US, and Caribbean waters. Does one approach have any benefits or drawbacks when compared to the other?
To enter a foreign country a boat is required to hod national registration in the owner country of citizenship. So no choice.
Also registration entitles you to rights under international maritime law, licensing does not. You are simply an illegal entrant, what the consequences are depends on them but not sure the embassy would be able to do much as you will have broken Candian law as well.
LOCAL jurisdictions such as Washington may waive it but I am pretty sure if you tried to enter somewhere like Mexico or Panama and any of the Caribbean island you would be arrested and have the boat impounded.
I registered in Victoria in person and found the staff very helpful, if you are anywhere near an office suggest a personal visit if having problems. Does take a while but you only have to do it once, changes and renewals are done via email.
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Old 10-03-2015, 16:39   #15
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Re: Licensing a vessel versus registering it

I said my boat IS registered in Canada, I just never changed the registration to my name. I am protected therefore as it is still flagged as Canadian vessel. All I say is the law states that I do not have to re register the boat in my name. I have visited ten countries without any problem. I just don't like the idea of giving the Canadian government any more money than I have to.
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