Friday, August 28, 2015

Maritime VHF radio licensing in Canada

I recently went through the process of getting a new radio license and MMSI number for the new handheld radio I got for my boat. The process isn't really straight forward. So, for reference, here is the basic process.

Everyone needs a VHF license - Get your Maritime Radio license

It is law that everyone operating a VHF must have a Maritime Radio license. I've never been asked for my card but I truly think that it's a good idea anyways. How many times have we heard idiots on the VHF that don't know the protocol (or don't care?). Since VHF is an open/public medium, maintaining proper protocol is important.

Power and Sail Squadron - Maritime Radio Course

If you want to use DSC - Apply for an MMSI ID

Digital Selective Calling (DSC) is a mechanism for calling specific boats or groups of boats instead of using the standard Channel 16 calling. It also allows for nice features like automated distress signals. While it doesn't seem to be widely used yet, I imagine it will be once more people upgrade their radios and get used to using the system.

In order to use DSC your radio needs an MI or MMSI number (MI is for mobile VHF handsets).

The applications for a number are available here:

Be aware that once you program an MMSI number into a device it CANNOT be easily changed. It usually involves sending the radio back to the manufacturer. For this reason, make sure that you are assigning the ID to the right radio. You only have one shot at this or you will be applying for another ID.

If you are traveling to the US - Apply for a Maritime Mobile Radio Station Licence (ship license)

Here is my understanding from the nice people at Industry Canada...

You do not need a Ship license if you are from Canada and staying in Canada.

You do not need a Ship License if you are from the US and staying in the US.

However, you DO need a Ship License if you are going between the Canada and the US. Dumb...yes.

"Basic" over view of the application process:

Other info

If any of this is confusing or if you have any questions, the people at the Industry Canada regional offices are very friendly and helpful. This is also where you can find the email address to submit your forms

If you want to search for an existing MMSI number you can here:$search.formquery?Z_CHK=0

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