Answers to
Commonly Asked Questions

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To operate a small commercial vessel less than 5 gross ton, less than 25 nautical miles from shore with up to 12 passengers you will need the following minimum certifications:

1. SVOP – small vessel operator proficiency
2. SDV-BS (formerly the MED A3 – marine emergency duties – small domestic vessel basic safety) – this is the minimum MED course, there are other longer MED courses for larger vessels
3. ROC-M –  restricted operator certificate maritime (if the vessel you are operating is fitted with a a marine VHF radio) –  (ROC-M is the minimum, there are other longer Marine VHF courses)
4. MBFA marine basic first aid (or other provincially recognized 2-day first aid certification)

There are some exceptions to the above (for smaller boats operating in Sheltered Waters), for more information click here.


We run regular courses in Richmond (Vancouver), Victoria,  Campbell River, Duncan, and sometimes in Tofino!

Click here for Spring 2024 course schedule & prices

Please click here to register

Please click here to register (with a credit card). We require full payment to confirm your registration for a course (but we have a very flexible cancellation policy, see below).

To arrange for your employer to pay for your course, or to pay by email money transfer, please email . In your email please indicate which courses you want to register for and who to contact about payment.

Our courses tend to sell-out, don’t miss out, register as soon as you can!

You must be at least 16 years old to take the SVOP and SDV-BS (formerly MED A3). But to be the captain (sole-operator) of a small commercial vessel you must be at least 18 years old.

We specialize in Small Boat training courses only, we only offer the following courses :

SVOP – small vessel operator proficiency
SDV-BS (formerly the MEDA3 – marine emergency duties – Small Domestic Vessel Basic Safety)
ROC-M – restricted operator certificate maritime

 Boat Boss – Off the Dock – a 4-day practical training course on small boats in Tofino  – an ideal next-step once you already have your SVOP. Click here for more information.

We do NOT offer MBFA, if you’re in Tofino we recommend Emre at Swell Tofino . For other locations, please try St John’s Ambulance or the Red Cross

For our Classroom SVOP, SDVBS and ROCM courses – NO! Our courses are designed to get someone with little or no experience to the required level, NO PRE-READING required. NO PRE-REQUISITES. NO PRE-STUDY! 

To take the Boat Boss  – Off the Dock course you will need to already have your SVOP. 

It is not economical for us to send out textbooks ahead of time as we get so many cancellations.

Turn up on time and pay attention and we will do our very best to get you successfully through our courses. 

To be successful in our courses, you will need be proficient in written and verbal communication in English. Please see our English Language Guidelines page for more information

Transport Canada has approved our courses in the English language. To be successful in this course, you will need be proficient in written and verbal communication in English.

As a captain or other crew member on a boat in Canada, you will need to communicate in English or French (official languages in Canada) with the Coast Guard, Police, Search & Rescue and other vessels. Unfortunately, we don’t have the capacity to provide training in any other languages at this time.

During the exam, participants are NOT permitted to use any electronic devices but may use a paper dictionary/translator if needed (Transport Canada regulations). 

 Please see our English Language Guidelines page for more information


No, the SVOP, SDV-BS (MED A3) and ROC-M do NOT expire. These certifications do NOT need to be renewed.

If you took your SVOP or MEDA3/ SDV-BS with us, we can issue you replacement certificates for a small charge ($50 per certificate). Please email with your full name, date of birth (and if you remember, where you took the course).

ROC-M cards are issued by Canadian Power & Sail Squadrons, you can order a replacement ROC-M card online, click here for the link. 


Click here to sign up to our email list to get updates about small vessel training requirements regulations.
Click here for more information about changes coming to the SVOP certification. Any changes will not take place until Spring 2025 at the earliest. 

 The MEDA3 certification was replaced by the SDVBS (Small Domestic Vessel Basic Safety) in 2019. The SDVBS is a better, more interesting course, other than that, this change has no effect for mariners!

All existing SVOP and MEDA3 certifications are still valid

Please contact Transport Canada to find out about transferring certifications from another country.

We issue SVOP and SDV-BS (MED A3) certificates to successful participants at the end of each course.

Successful ROC-M participants will receive a temporary certificate a the end of the course. The ROC-M course is administered, for all course providers, by Canadian Power & Sail Squadrons. They mail ROC-M cards to participants 6-8 weeks after the course.

There is a multiple choice exam at the end of each course. You may ask the instructor for help if you do not understand an exam question (the instructor will not give you the answer (!) but can help you understand the question)

Please let us know if you have literacy issues and we will do our best to help you out.

Electronic devices are not allowed during the exam, even for translation purposes, you can use a paper dictionary!

YES! However much experience you have, you must attend the whole course to pass (you can NOT miss a day, a morning or an afternoon).

Canadian Power & Sail Squadrons sometimes offer an “exam challenge” option for the ROC-M course, please contact them for more information:

No, we do not offer online options for these courses. Other training providers may offer online options. 

The SVOP, SDV-BS (MED A3) and ROC-M courses are all classroom based. Transport Canada does not require practical on-the-water training at this level.

We offer SVOP Captain’s Bootcamps in Tofino  – this includes the SVOP course PLUS practical training on boats – click here for more information. 

We also offer a 4-day practical course in Tofino – “Boat Boss  – Off the Dock” which is an ideal next-step once you have taken your SVOP. 

We can also provide practical training for groups  please email for more information.

Yes, we provide private group training all over BC, the Yukon and beyond!  Please email for more information.

Please note we tend to get booked-up a long time in advance.

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