Laws of the Sport

The Laws of the Sport of Bowls have been developed by World Bowls Limited and are made available to Bowls Canada Boulingrin for publication. These laws are adopted Officiatingby all member national authorities, ensuring that the sport is played according to a consistent set of rules wherever it is played.

The current edition of the laws is titled the Laws of the Sport of Bowls, Crystal Mark 4th Edition, and was adopted in Canada on April 1, 2023. Copies can be ordered through your club or directly from Bowls Canada Boulingrin

If you have questions, or require clarification on any of the updated laws, please send an email to with the subject line: Ask an Umpire.

If you require a bowling aid and would like to use it at any of the Canadian Championships, please fill out the Application for Bowling Aid Approval form and send it to the Bowls Canada Boulingrin office.


World Bowls Amendments

CM3 Amendments – December 2016

It was deemed that the requirement for large grooved rings surrounding the centre of the non-bias side of a bowl is not necessary.
The following laws have been revised to remove this requirement and the approved wording is listed below.

D2     Bias side of a bowl: the side of the bowl that is the more rounded of the two sides, which is identified by the small grooved rings surrounding its centre.

  • 52.1.3 Each set of bowls can carry a player’s individual emblem, logo or engraving as a distinguishing mark on both sides of every bowl.
    • The distinguishing marks must be the same design and colour but can be different in
    • The distinguishing mark on the bias side of the bowl must be inside the smallest grooved ring surrounding its centre.
    • If there are grooved rings surrounding the centre of the non-bias side, the distinguishing mark must be inside the smallest ring.
    • If there are no grooved rings surrounding the centre of the non-bias side, the distinguishing mark must be inside the indentations designed to help the player grip the bowl during delivery.
    • As well as the distinguishing marks, each set of bowls can carry a player’s name or signature. Imprints on the running surfaces of bowls must be avoided.
    • All bowls belonging to players within a team or side must have these markings on them and the markings must all be the same design and colour. However, players may use markings which are different in size from those used by other players in their team or side where this is necessary due to differences in the sizes of either the manufacturers’ rings or distinguishing marks on the bowls.
  • 53.1 Licensed Manufacturers and Licensed Testers are entitled to imprint the registered World Bowls Stamp on the bias side of bowls. Imprints on the running surfaces of bowls must be avoided wherever possible.

CM3 Amendments – April 2018

The minimum size at present is 116 millimetres but it was recognised that some people from both the older and younger generations had difficulty in holding even this minimum-sized bowl. Manufacturers had been approached to design new smaller sizes. Test bowls with a minimum size of 112 millimetres (size quadruple zero) and 114 millimetres (size triple zero) had been manufactured and trialled.

The following changes to the Laws were approved to allow these smaller-sized bowls of approved models to be used.

  • 52.1.6 Bowls made of wood must:
    • measure between 112 millimetres and 134 millimetres across at their widest points; and
    • weigh up to 1.59 kilograms.
  • 52.1.7 Bowls made of rubber or plastic resin must:
    • measure between 112 millimetres and 131 millimetres across at their widest points; and
    • weigh up to 1.59 kilograms.

CM3 Amendments – June 2020

(a) The current law [law 17.2.5] describes a very remote situation, and it does not provide any further clarity to the Laws of the Sport.
Law 17.2.5 was deleted as per below.

17.2.5  [A bowl is not a dead bowl if:] it comes to rest on top of the jack or any bowls that are at rest within the boundaries of the rink.

(b) It was recommended that all Controlling Bodies must address the use of electronic devices on the green by any bowler in their Conditions of Play.
Appendix A.1.4.5 was amended by deleting reference to “players with a hearing disability” in order to make it universally applicable.

A.1.4.5 Arrangements for the use of electronic devices by players with a hearing disability.


Bowls Canada Amendments

Please be advised, in law 10.1.3 where the minimum jack distance of 23 metres is stated, the Canadian distance has been accidentally omitted.  The laws should read: 10.1.3    at a distance of less than 23 metres (21 metres outdoors in Canada) from the mat line, as measured in a straight line from the centre of the mat line to the nearest point of the jack, after the jack has been centred.

Become an Umpire


Umpires play a vital role in ensuring that all aspects of play are in line with the Laws of the Sport of Bowls. Umpires must be able to apply their knowledge of the laws in an approach that will make the experience enjoyable for both the participants and the officials.

One of the goals of the National Officiating Committee (NOC) is to qualify at least one umpire at each lawn bowling club in Canada.

Level 1 (Provincial) Umpire

This is the entry level training program for all Canadian umpires and has been developed to encourage bowlers to gain officiating experience at their local events.  A Level 1 umpire is certified to officiate at all club, local and provincial events.

Level 1 Accreditation Process

The accreditation process is comprised of training, evaluation and apprenticeship. 

Training – Level 1 Umpire candidates complete a series of three half-day training sessions:

  1. The laws of the sport – This is followed by a 25-question take home exam which must be completed and marked before the third session.
  2. Measuring equipment and techniques.
  3. Measuring practicum.

The training utilizes the Laws of the Sport of Bowls, the Level 1 Umpire Training Manual and the World Bowls DVD on Umpiring and Marking Skills as training resources, and the services of a knowledgeable and competent course conductor. Umpiring candidates must have a minimum of two years of bowling experience, and will be expected to purchase a copy of the rule book and the training manual. Rule books can usually be ordered through your home club. The training manual will be available through your provincial association. 

In addition, all umpires must complete one of the approved Safe Sport courses:

Evaluation – In addition to the written exam completed during the training, candidates must also successfully complete a measuring exam and an oral exam.  Candidates must complete the measuring practicum prior to taking the measuring exam.

All exams are based on World Bowls standards.  A pass mark of 90% or better is required for each exam. 

Apprenticeship – New Level 1 umpires must mentor with an experienced umpire for a minimum of 4 hours or 2 tournament games before they can officiate.  New umpires will receive a BCB Umpire pin upon completion of their apprenticeship.

Level 2 (National) Umpire

A Level 2 umpire is certified to officiate at all club, local, provincial, and national events.

Level 2 Accreditation Process

Level 1 umpires can qualify for Level 2 (National) status after officiating for a minimum of 12 months and after at least 25 hours of umpiring experience at club, local and/or provincial tournaments (including their apprenticeship). All umpires are encouraged to keep a log of their officiating activities so that they are able to demonstrate their experience. 

A Level 1 umpire must take a measuring exam and pass with a mark of 90% or better in order to qualify as a Level 2 (National) umpire.

Umpire Recertification

Level 1 Umpire Recertification

New Level 1 umpires, who have taken the prescribed training and passed all exams, are certified for four (4) years. At any time during their second, third or fourth years, they may get recertified once they have 25 hours of umpiring experience and retake and pass the measuring exam. Upon achievement, they will become a certified Level 2 umpire, and may officiate for a further four (4) years before requiring recertification.

Level 2 Umpire Recertification

Level 2 umpires are also certified for a period of four (4) years. In order to be recertified they will be asked to produce a log showing a minimum of 25 umpiring hours over four years, and they must pass the measuring exam.

All umpires must be recertified before the end of their last year in order to remain qualified.  Adjustments have been made by each province to extend the recertification date due to local shutdowns in response to Covid-19. Exceptionally, at the end of their current officiating cycle, one year of grace may be approved by the Provincial Officiating Committee, allowing for recertification to occur during the following year. If recertification does not occur by the end of this extended period, then the umpire is no longer qualified to officiate. In this case, a former umpire can be recertified only after successfully completing the Level 1 umpire course and exams.

In addition, all umpires must complete one of the approved Safe Sport courses in order to be recertified: