I'm coming for a vacation on Lake St. Clair, may I boat in Canada waters as a U.S. Citizen?  Are there different rules for boaters in Canada?  YES!  Canada has different boating rules than Michigan.

#1 - Boater Certification for Canada:

Non-residents who operate U.S. registered vessels for less than 45 consecutive days do not require proof of competency.

However, non-residents who operate a "Canadian" registered vessel (rental boat for example) must carry proof of competency at all times.

Link for more https://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/marinesafety/debs-obs-paperwork-paperwork_operator-360.htm


Does "Michigan" require a Boater Education Card for Lake St. Clair?

michigan boating cardYou need to carry the Boater Education Card if you were born after June 30, 1996, and will be operating a vessel in Michigan. Most PWC operators also need education.

Michigan also recognizes other state and Canadian approved education cards that meet NASBLA requirements and Canadian Pleasure Craft Operator Cards that meet Transport Canada’s requirements.

You do not have to be a resident of Michigan to take this online course.  Link to Michigan Boater Education https://www.boat-ed.com/michigan/boating_card.html


#2 - Do I need to report to Customs when I cross over the border into Canadian waters on Lake St. Clair?

New Reporting Exemptions as of this writing January 2018:

The reporting requirements for private boaters have changed. You no longer need to report to the CBSA if you meet the reporting exemptions detailed below.

Reporting Exemptions

If you are visiting Canada, you are not required to report to the CBSA if you:

  • Do not land on Canadian soil and do not anchor, moor or make contact with another conveyance while in Canadian waters, and
  • Do not embark or disembark people or goods in Canada.

More info at https://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/travel-voyage/pb-pp-eng.html

Contact information

Telephone Reporting Centre (TRC):
Toll free: 1-888-226-7277

NEXUS telephone reporting line:
Toll free: 1-866-99-NEXUS (1-866-996-3987)

Note: CANPASS members must call the TRC phone number for service


#3 - When Can I Legally Consume Alcohol On a Boat in Canada?

Boat passengers may legally consume alcohol on board a boat in Canada, so long as the boat is equipped with:

  • Permanent cooking facilities
  • Permanent sleeping facilities
  • Permanent toilet

AND!  the boat must be anchored or secured alongside a dock.

As the boat operator, it is YOUR responsibility to make sure your boat meets these requirements before any passengers crack open any beer or liquor.  It is also your responsibility to stay sober to make sure everyone gets home safe.

Remember, boating while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is ALWAYS illegal, however, the rules for when alcohol can be legally consumed and transported on a boat vary from province to province.