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Old 05-03-2012, 08:47 AM   #1
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Registering for an MMSI #

In talking to a Standard Horizon tech and after doing some internet search, I found there are 2 ways to obtain an MMSI #. This is needed if you want to use the DSC capability of your VHF radio. Once you enter your MMSI number into your VHF radio it cannot be changed unless you return it to the manufacturer.

The simplist way is probably to obtain an MMSI number from BoatUS, the USPS, Sea Tow, or several of the other agencies that will do this. This can be done on-line and is free. However the MMSI number you receive from these agencies is for domestic use only. The number will be registered with the USCG with your boat identifying info.

If you plan on cruising in international waters then you should obtain a Ship Radio License from the FCC. While doing so I believe you can also obtain a MMSI number that is then registered into the International Search and Rescue Database. At the same time you will also register for a Restricted Radio Operators Permit, that will be issued in your name and is good for life. Going this route will cost something, I'm not sure how much.

In practice most recreational boaters probably do not go to the trouble of obtaining a international MMSI even if they routinely cruise Canadian or Bahamian waters.

The following was lifted from the BoatUS web site:
While Canada is considered “international waters” which technically calls for an FCC Ship Station License, Canada is not enforcing US regulations. Canada also has de-licensed recreational boaters. Under international treaties to which the US is a party, you are required to have an FCC license to transmit your radio in a foreign port. It is recommended for Mexico, Bahamas and the Caribbean etc. BoatUS and the GMDSS Task Force are working to have the FCC lift the rule for Canada and the Bahamas. Also, the U.S. & Canadian Coast Guard are working together to respond to any distresses in the border waters.
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Old 05-03-2012, 11:49 AM   #2
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You can change it, but only twice. After that it's locked and has to be sent to the mfg. This is to keep folks from "spoofing" and changing them all the time. I always wondered what I'd do if I sold the boat, since I've already changed it once. I don't want the new owner to use my MMSI, but to disable it, I would have to enter a fake code, then he'd have to send it to the mfg.
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Old 05-03-2012, 12:05 PM   #3
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If the MMSI is registered with the FCC it can be deactivated. Don't know about the other one.
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Old 05-03-2012, 01:09 PM   #4
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I was told by our electronics dealer that the FCC MMSI number is the better one to get even though the BoatUS number may be simpler to get. Having an FCC MMSI number puts you and your boat in several data bases that can be useful to be in. All the BoatUS number does is get you on the air.

We have an FCC MMSI number and this actually came in very handy when we were trying to get some information or something a number of years ago. Unfortunately I can't recall exactly what we were trying to do, but had we had the BoatUS number we wouldn't have been able to retrieve or supply or do whatever it was we needed the information for.
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Old 05-03-2012, 02:45 PM   #5
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FYI, When you sell a boat the FCC station license must be cancelled. The station license cannot be transferred to a new owner and it cannot be transferred to a new boat. So, by cancelling the license, the MMSI number is also cancelled. If selling a boat, you can send the VHF radios in to the mfg to clear the MMSI numbers so the new owner can enter his own, or let the new owner do that himself.
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Old 05-03-2012, 04:39 PM   #6
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I just got mine from the FCC at this site: FCC: Wireless Services: Ship Radio Stations: Licensing
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Old 06-10-2012, 12:59 PM   #7
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I just got mine from the FCC at this site: FCC: Wireless Services: Ship Radio Stations: Licensing

Dragging up and old thread from Davey Jones locker.

Is this the license required to operate a VHF radio in Canada?I keep getting conflicting info on that and I plan to be in CAN in a few years.
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Old 06-10-2012, 01:10 PM   #8
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I checked into this a few years ago, and the best info I have is that YES, the US Ship Radio Station License is required by the US FCC if you use the radio to communicate with a foreign station.

The reality is that in British Columbia, Canada, boat names are used as call signs and no one has ever asked to see my license.

It is possible for the US FCC to issue a ticket to a US boat while it is Canadian water for a radio license violation, but I have never heard on anyone getting such a violation.

So, bottom line, are you feeling lucky? Or do you want to comply with the US FCC law? I paid for and have a Ship Station license, so I am legal.
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Old 06-10-2012, 01:17 PM   #9
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I checked into this a few years ago, and the best info I have is that YES, the US Ship Radio Station License is required by the US FCC if you use the radio to communicate with a foreign station.

The reality is that in British Columbia, Canada, boat names are used as call signs and no one has ever asked to see my license.

It is possible for the US FCC to issue a ticket to a US boat while it is Canadian water for a radio license violation, but I have never heard on anyone getting such a violation.

So, bottom line, are you feeling lucky? Or do you want to comply with the US FCC law? I paid for and have a Ship Station license, so I am legal.
That's the thing.I don't want to get caught with my pants down, so I want to be sure I have everything in order to travel through Canada and Bahamas.I have "heard" some people have been asked for their radio license when entering customs.
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Old 06-10-2012, 02:33 PM   #10
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What are the canadian requirements for radio licensing?

OK, here are the current requirements.

1 the old rule that required a station license, was abolished several years ago. That license was from Transport Canada (or whatever they are calling themselves these days) and cost a few $ a year, was for the station itself, and gave you a call sign, "CZ1234" for example. Not everyone paid for this, and almost nobody used the call signs in their transmissions. So that one is gone. Thank goodness!

2 the license that you get when you take the personal radio exam is still required. It is called "RADIOTELEPHONE OPERATOR'S RESTRICTED CERTIFICATE MARITIME (VOLUNTARY)" issued by the department of communications, government of Canada (that's what they called themselves in 1991 when mine was issued). That permits you to use any marine VHF radio. That license is good for life, no fee, but you need to pass the test. Can you say your boat name 3 times, can you say the name of the boat you are calling 3 times? Stuff like that, not too hard.

If you are a foreign boater, the Canadian authorities assume you have complied with the rules that exist wherever you come from, unless you do something really stupid, so you won't have any trouble, and likely no questions about what radio licences you have on your boat, when you enter Canada.

Of greater concern is whether you hold a PCOC Pleasure Craft Operator's Certificate. That also shows you have passed a test, again not difficult, but you may then safely operate a vessel in our waters. Again, any operator's certificate from your home waters will likely suffice.
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Old 06-10-2012, 03:04 PM   #11
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OK, here are the current requirements.

1 the old rule that required a station license, was abolished several years ago. That license was from Transport Canada (or whatever they are calling themselves these days) and cost a few $ a year, was for the station itself, and gave you a call sign, "CZ1234" for example. Not everyone paid for this, and almost nobody used the call signs in their transmissions. So that one is gone. Thank goodness!

2 the license that you get when you take the personal radio exam is still required. It is called "RADIOTELEPHONE OPERATOR'S RESTRICTED CERTIFICATE MARITIME (VOLUNTARY)" issued by the department of communications, government of Canada (that's what they called themselves in 1991 when mine was issued). That permits you to use any marine VHF radio. That license is good for life, no fee, but you need to pass the test. Can you say your boat name 3 times, can you say the name of the boat you are calling 3 times? Stuff like that, not too hard.

If you are a foreign boater, the Canadian authorities assume you have complied with the rules that exist wherever you come from, unless you do something really stupid, so you won't have any trouble, and likely no questions about what radio licences you have on your boat, when you enter Canada.

Of greater concern is whether you hold a PCOC Pleasure Craft Operator's Certificate. That also shows you have passed a test, again not difficult, but you may then safely operate a vessel in our waters. Again, any operator's certificate from your home waters will likely suffice.
thanks for the clarification.
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Old 06-12-2012, 12:16 PM   #12
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While Canada may have dropped the ship station license requirement for Canadian-registered boats, so far as I know the requirement has not been dropped for US boats that will be operating in foreign waters. So if your boat is going to be US registered and you're going to be taking it into Canadian waters you will need a ship station license to meet the US requirement.

As has been noted by others, whether any of this gets enforced or not is another matter. We have a current ship station license and the required radio operators license but we have never been asked to show either one on either the US or Canadian sides of the border. We do not use our call sign on the radio, just the boat's name. However our call sign is posted in the wheelhouse should we feel we need it, or are ever asked for it.
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Old 06-12-2012, 12:31 PM   #13
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Ship Radio Station Licensing
Licensing Requirements

Technical Requirements for the Operation of Mobile Stations in the Maritime Service

PDF version
(249 KB, 23 pages)

Information on downloading a PDF reader

Issue 1, September 2007
Regulation by Reference (Formerly RIC-13, Issue 4, May 1998)

Do I need a licence for the marine radio equipment on board my vessel?
You will not require a licence if you meet both of the following criteria:
  • the vessel is not operated in the sovereign waters of a country other than Canada.
  • the radio equipment on board the vessel is only capable of operating on frequencies that are allocated for maritime mobile communications or marine radio navigation. You can verify whether the frequencies you use are in the maritime mobile band by referring to Regulation by Reference RBR-2.
If you do not meet both of the above criteria, you will require a radio licence. You can contact your local Industry Canada office for more information.
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