Vessel Licencing in Western Canada

by John M. MacFarlane 2012

Licence Number

An example of the ‘old’ system of vessel licence number notation. (The 13K indicates that it was licenced in Vancouver BC.) (Photo from MacFarlane collection)

Have you ever wondered about the numbers displayed on the bows of small Canadian pleasure boats? They signify the province of the ownership of the vessel and a unique identifier. Vessel licencing identifies a vessel with a licencee and does not necessarily imply ownership or title. All commercial vessels, and all vessels other than commercial vessels, 15 or 20 register tons respectively, and under, bearing a motor of 10bhp or more, must be licenced, unless voluntarily registered.

Licencing is a procedure which can be applied for from any Collector of Customs. The vessel licence number must be displayed on either side of the vessel. A licenced vessel may be given a name, at the pleasure of the owner, but is officially known by its number. At one time there were a large number of ports at which vessels could be licenced. The ports in brackets are where the records were kept for the corresponding port.The ports in brackets are where the records were kept for some of the corresponding ports. Almost all of these records are no longer accessible or older record locations are unknown.

British Columbia

  • 1-K Boundary Bay
  • 2-K Cranbrook
  • 2-KA Roosville
  • 3-K Kitimat
  • 6-K Nanaimo
  • 7-K Nelson (Trail)
  • 8-K New Westminster (Vancouver)
  • 9-K Penticton
  • 10-K Prince Rupert
  • 11-K Kamloops
  • 12-K Trail
  • 13-K Vancouver
  • 14-K Victoria
  • 15-K Pacific Highway
  • 16-K Cascade City
  • 17-K Huntingdon
  • 18-K Kingsgate
  • 18-KA Rykerts
  • 19-K Osoyoos
  • 20-K Prince George
  • 21-K Revelstoke (Kamloops)
  • 22-K Stewart (Prince Rupert)
  • 23-K Vernon
  • 24-K White Rock (Pacific Highway)
  • 25-K Port Alberni
  • 26-K Powell River
  • 27-K Kitimat (formerly 3-K)
  • 28-K Chemainus (Nanaimo)
  • 29-K Chilliwack (Huntingdon)
  • 30-K Courtenay
  • 30-KA Campbell River
  • 31-K Kelowna
  • 32-K Ocean Falls (Courtenay)
  • 33-K Britannia Beach
Licence number

An example of the ‘new’ system of vessel licence notation. (The new system provides less information to the public about the origin of the vessel.) (Photo from MacFarlane collection)

Yukon Territory

  • 1-J Dawson
  • 2-J Whitehorse


  • 1-H Calgary
  • 2-H Edmonton
  • 3-H Lethbridge
  • 4-H Medicine Hat
  • 5-H Coutts
  • 6-H Drumheller
  • 8-H Red River
  • 9-H Camrose


  • 1-G Moose Jaw
  • 2-G North Portal
  • 3-G Prince Albert
  • 4-G Regina
  • 5-G Saskatoon
  • 6-G North Battleford
  • 7-G Northgate
  • 8-G Swift Current
  • 9-G Yorkton
  • 10-G Estevan
  • 11-G Weyburn


  • 1-F Brandon
  • 2-F Emerson
  • 3-F Gretna
  • 4-F Sprague
  • 5-F Winnipeg
  • 6-F The Pas
  • 7-F Boissevain
  • 8-F Coulter
  • 9-F Crystal City



C-New Brunswick

A-Nova Scotia

B-Prince Edward Island



The modern system of commercial vessel licence notation (Photo from MacFarlane collection.)


Numbers on fishing vessels like these are not vessel licences, but relate to permits for fishing by the vessel. (Photo from MacFarlane collection.)

To quote from this article please cite:

MacFarlane, John M. (2012) Vessel Licencing in Western Canada. 2012.

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