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  1. Boating at SFU 
  2. Vessel Renting or Third-Party Operators
  3. Vessel Operator Certification 
  4. Small Vessel Registration 
  5. Small Vessel Compliance Program 
  6. Human Powered Vessel Safety 
  7. Out-of-country boating trips 
  8. Resources


Boating at SFU

All vessels owned by SFU for teaching and research purposes are considered non-pleasure commercial vessels and are subject to Transport Canada regulations. Types of non-pleasure commercial vessels include, but are not limited to, small passenger boats, work boats, and human-powered boats such as canoes and kayaks, landing crafts, and aluminum hull boats.

Boating safety at SFU is the joint responsibility of Safety and Risk Services, Research Operations, Deans and Department Chairs, and boat operators. To ensure you are meeting safety and regulatory obligations, please review Transport Canada’s Small Commercial Vessel Safety Guide and all the sections and resources below. All boating activity at SFU must be detailed in a Field Activity Plan (FAP) that is reviewed by the Field Safety Advisory Committee (FSAC). Operator competency must be demonstrated through an approved operator’s licence and practical training.

Research Operations manages a register of all SFU owned boats.  Please contact to report any new boats or changes to boats (i.e. no longer in use or decommissioned). 

Important Information for Primary Boat Operators  

SFU provides template procedures related to the safe operation of vessels and handling emergencies.  Primary operators of vessels should customize these templates to fit their specific vessel and keep them in a binder with other important vessel specific records.  A copy should also be forwarded to your departmental field safety or lab manager and  

If you are inspected by Transport Canada, you must be able to show that you have met the requirements to develop and implement safe operating procedures.  You should keep a log of all crew training and drills that you complete in the binder.  


It is the primary operator who is responsible for ensuring that any vessel operators and/or crew:  

  • Have the proper certifications and are competent for safe operation;  

  • Are made familiar with all relevant SFU and vessel specific procedures and have practiced safety drills so they are able to properly use safety equipment if needed;   

  • Are made familiar with shipboard equipment, operational instructions and their assigned duties; and  

  • Are able to effectively perform their duties while monitoring safety and the mitigation of pollution.  


Vessel Renting or Third-Party Operators

Renting: When renting vessels, the responsible party must detail operator certifications and experience in their Field Activity Plan (FAP), ensuring that they meet the requirements noted below. The skipper of the vessel (primary operator) is responsible for ensuring that the rented vessel also meets all the requirements of Transport Canada (may be evidenced by enrolment in the Small Vessel Compliance Program) and for noting this in any FAP(s).

Third-party: The details of the company/vendor and a copy of the contract are to be included in the FAP. If the vendor has not been previously reviewed by SFU they may be contacted to ensure they comply with the standards detailed on this page. To help ensure a timely review, applicants are advised to provide evidence from NGOs that their vessels and operators meet these requirements (ie as required by Transport Canada)

Vessel Operator Certification 

All SFU Vessel operators, including those that lease vessels, must have the required Vessel Manning Qualification as described below. 

Master/Operator Requirements

  Vessel Near Coastal 1 Near Coastal 2 Sheltered Waters
> 2 nautical miles from shore < 2 nautical miles from shore
Passenger-Carrying Vessels (<12 passengers) > 5 GT Master 150 GT (Domestic) (if endorsed for limited, contiguous waters) Limited Master < 60 GT Limited Master < 60 GT Limited Master < 60 GT
≤ 5 GT and > 8m SVOP SVOP SVOP
> 6 passengers and ≤; 8 m SVOP SVOP SVOP
≤ 6 passengers and ≤ 8 m SVOP SVOP PCOC
Workboats* > 5 GT Master 150 GT (Domestic) (if endorsed for limited, contiguous waters) Limited Master < 60 GT Limited Master < 60 GT Limited Master < 60 GT
≤ 5 GT and > 8m (except tugs) SVOP SVOP SVOP
≤ 8m (except tugs) SVOP PCOC
Tugs Limited Master < 60 GT Limited Master < 60 GT Limited Master < 60 GT

*Note that all SFU vessels are by default considered commercial vessels 
Note: This table is for the convenience of users. If any discrepancy is found between the Marine Personnel Regulations and the table, the Regulations shall prevail.

Small Vessel Registration 

All small non-pleasure vessels powered by an engine of 10 horsepower (7.5kW) or more must be registered with Transport Canada’s Small Vessel Register. Fines can be imposed for those who do not have a valid registration for their vessels.  Information on registering and renewing your vessel can be found on SRS’ Vehicles & Vessels webpage.

Small Vessel Compliance Program 

In Canada, vessel operators are legally responsible for knowing, controlling and managing the risks related to the vessel they operate. The Small Vessel Compliance Program (SVCP) is a program operated by Transport Canada that assists people to operate their small vessel safely and legally.  To maintain consistency across the university, SFU is subscribing to the SVCP and will enrol all non-pleasure crafts and small commercial vessels eligible for the program.

The SVCP applies to SFU vessels that are:

  • non-pleasure (ie commercial/work-boats) vessels up to 15 gross tonnage *Note that all SFU vessels are by default considered commercial vessels 
  • passenger vessels up to 15 gross tonnage, carrying 12 passengers or less

In order to enrol a vessel into the SVCP, the boat must be registered with Transport Canada. Boat operators must initially (one-time-only) complete a Transport Canada 85-0475E Small Vessel Detailed Compliance Report and provide documented evidence, which should take approximately 60-90 mins to complete.  In order to complete the form, boat operators should have the following on hand:

  • copies of certificates of training and competency for primary operator(s)
  • copy of registration documents
  • 4 photos of the vessel – bow, side, stern and top
  • stability information or documentation, if applicable
  • a photo or copy of your compliance notice, if applicable

The completed form must be signed by Risk Management ( in the capacity of the ‘Authorized Representative’ and returned to for enrolment into the program.  Once submitted, a Marine Safety Inspector will complete a technical review of the package and vessels deemed safety compliant will receive a blue decal to display on the vessel.  The decal is valid for 5 years, provided the annual safety checks are compliant.

Completed 85-0482E Annual Compliance Reports must be submitted to RO by March 15th annually in order to have the annual renewals completed prior to the summer boating season. Copies of the latest report must be kept on board the vessel at all times.  Once the decal is received by the boat operator it should be placed on the hull of the vessel where it is highly visible.  
For more information on boat registration and SVCP enrollment, see SRS’s Vehicles & Vessels page. If you have any questions about the SVCP, please contact

Human Powered Vessel Safety 

Transport Canada’s definition of Human Powered Vessels (HPVs) includes canoes, kayaks, row boats, inflatables, river-rafts, or vessels that are required with propulsion motors less than 10 HP. SFU HPVs are still considered non-pleasure commercial vessels and are subject to Transport Canada regulations but do not require enrollment in the Small Vessel Compliance Program (i.e. do not require a blue decal). 

You can find links to HPV safety guidelines in the Resources section below.

Out-of-country boating trips 

If you are planning to conduct a research project or teaching activity out of country that requires the use of a vessel, you must detail this activity in your Field Activity Plan. 
All persons operating a vessel out of country are required to have a Small Vessel Operator Proficiency Certification (SVOP). One crew member or vessel operator on board the vessel is required to have either a Marine Emergency Duties A3 (MED A3) or Small Domestic Vessel Basic Safety (SDV-BSC) certification.


Transport Canada’s Small Vessels webpage provides detailed information about everything you need to know about operating your small commercial vessel, including:

  • Registration
  • Manning, navigation and voyage classification
  • Checking your safety equipment
  • Emergency procedures
  • Pre-departure safety checklists
  • Safety briefings for passengers

Transport Canada’s Small Vessel Safety Guide
Transport Canada’s Small Vessel Regulations
Transport Canada’s Templates for Small Commercial Vessel Procedures and Records
Operating a Human Powered Craft