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Old 06-06-2022, 05:07 PM   #1
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Do I Really Need an FCC License for VHF Use in Canada?

Planning a 2-3 week cruise into Canadian waters, Richelieu and Rideau Canals, Lake Ontario, etc. Skipper Bob's guide indicates I need to obtain an FCC license to meet Canada's requirements. $185 fee. I would need to also reprogram my AIS and VHS. Is this really necessary? This will likely be our only voyage to Canada as we cruise the East Coast predominantly. Curious about other's experiences.
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Old 06-06-2022, 05:13 PM   #2
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Planning a 2-3 week cruise into Canadian waters, Richelieu and Rideau Canals, Lake Ontario, etc. Skipper Bob's guide indicates I need to obtain an FCC license to meet Canada's requirements. $185 fee. I would need to also reprogram my AIS and VHS. Is this really necessary? This will likely be our only voyage to Canada as we cruise the East Coast predominantly. Curious about other's experiences.

Are you asking if it's required, or if you will get caught? It's definitely required. I don't know if you will get caught.


When you apply for the FCC SA license, you can specify an existing MMSI. I have done this and kept the MMSI that I already had, but it was a previous FCC MMSI. I don't know if it will work using a BoatUS MMSI which is presumably what you have,
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Old 06-06-2022, 05:21 PM   #3
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Yes, it is required. If you got your MMSI at Boat/US then you will need to reprogram the VHF with the FCC issued MMSI.
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Old 06-06-2022, 05:21 PM   #4
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It does not work with the Boat US MMSI, it must be a federally issued one.
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Old 06-06-2022, 05:44 PM   #5
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Legally it is required.
Practically not even an issue IMO.
I have cruised into Canada over 30 years and never had the required licenses...
I have never heard of anyone being cited or even asked.
I have communicated w/ Canadian CG and never asked to identify myself other than w boat name.
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Old 06-06-2022, 05:49 PM   #6
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The BoatUS MMSI is not entered into the international SAR databases, so it's not very useful outside the US.

You not only need the FCC ship's station license (which provides the MMSI and gets renewed every 10 years), you also need a Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Permit for yourself (lifetime and requires no test). Most countries (including Canada) require you to be licensed to use a VHF, so they'll expect the FCC RR license. And the FCC requires you to have it if you're using a VHF outside the US (there's an exemption where a US citizen doesn't need the license to operate a VHF within US waters).
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Old 06-06-2022, 05:53 PM   #7
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Legally it is required.
Practically not even an issue IMO.
I have cruised into Canada over 30 years and never had the required licenses...
I have never heard of anyone being cited or even asked.
I have communicated w/ Canadian CG and never asked to identify myself other than w boat name.
Only 1 in a 100 has the required license. Never heard of any one getting busted for not having the required license. With the exception of some idiot every now and then calling a false May-day. Do that and they will find every possible violation to charge you with.
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Old 06-06-2022, 06:14 PM   #8
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Only 1 in a 100 has the required license. Never heard of any one getting busted for not having the required license. With the exception of some idiot every now and then calling a false May-day. Do that and they will find every possible violation to charge you with.
They donít ask to see the license on a boarding inspection? I havenít been boarded there, but Iím also your 1 in 100. I actually think - not based on anything - a much larger percentage than you suggest have it, at least on the larger boats in British Columbia.
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Old 06-06-2022, 07:08 PM   #9
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OK, I will be the first Canadian to respond.
In 1977 I bought and licensed my first VHF Radio. I don't recall the cost, but it happened every year for about 20 years. Then the rules changed and I no longer required that license. It hasn't been required since, so I, and all my fellow Canadian private mariners operate our VHF radios license free. I will ask my brother who has a Ham radio, if he is required to license it, but that is a much different technology, and I haven't asked yet.
As for visitors, and from the sound of the responses so far, there are those who are FCC licensed and those who are not, but got an MMSI through a non governmental agency, usually BoatUS, I have no information that explains any requirement.

I used to be a member of the CCGA, then RCMSAR. both doing Coast Guard "Courtesy Examinations", but over the years the CG farmed that task out to RCMSAR and private clubs, who are now operating on forms that still originate from the CG. Those forms ask for information on the licensing status of operators of VHF radios, but no longer record licensing status for a "Station". That reflects the lack of any requirement for a "Station" license.

Those earlier posters asserting a Canadian licensing requirement may still be correct, for visitors, but I can't find any on line corroboration of that requirement. Could one of you please provide that?
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Old 06-06-2022, 07:15 PM   #10
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I think Canada will only require the operators license as the previous post says. But the US requires the station to be licensed if it's a US flagged vessel operating outside of the US.
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Old 06-06-2022, 07:51 PM   #11
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Maybe you can get away without a license but in an emergency I want my data in International SAR data bases. And I want to be legal, why notÖ
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Old 06-07-2022, 06:08 AM   #12
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I think Canada will only require the operators license as the previous post says. But the US requires the station to be licensed if it's a US flagged vessel operating outside of the US.
If I recall correctly US FCC requires both a station license and an operator license. I tried to look up costs for those but the FCC site is not easy to find what I was looking for.
AFAIK the requirement is a US based one not Canadian but could be wrong there.
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Old 06-07-2022, 06:31 AM   #13
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If I'm finding the correct info, it looks like $185 for the SA license (ship's station) and $35 for the RR license (operator). Another $185 in 10 years to renew the SA license.
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Old 06-07-2022, 06:44 AM   #14
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If I'm finding the correct info, it looks like $185 for the SA license (ship's station) and $35 for the RR license (operator). Another $185 in 10 years to renew the SA license.
That sounds about right with inflation vs what it was many moons ago when I researched it.
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Old 06-07-2022, 07:47 AM   #15
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They donít ask to see the license on a boarding inspection? I havenít been boarded there, but Iím also your 1 in 100. I actually think - not based on anything - a much larger percentage than you suggest have it, at least on the larger boats in British Columbia.
I've been boarded in the US and Canada several times and once in the Netherlands. I've never been asked about the radio telephone license or the ship station license. I heard tales of it many decades ago but never witnessed it. For a US boat the USCG is more interested in your black water system than anything else. Foreign agencies in passports and ship's documentation.
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Old 06-07-2022, 07:51 AM   #16
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Well, it IS the law, FCC law, but under what agreement does the FCC govern VHF operation in foreign countries? I've searched and asked about that but never got an answer, other than, if the US Coastguard rescues you in Canadian waters, then you're in deep without it.



Yes, one could easily get away without it, but there's a thought to comply with the law, just in case you need help.


And, yes, need both the boat license and your personal FCC license. Had mine for 40 years, and get the boat one when needed. but the FCC is a real PITA.
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Old 06-07-2022, 08:04 AM   #17
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Laws often Include requirements of treaties which the countries are signers of.

International usage of VHF radio frequencies ( not necessarily just possession of the radio) requires a license and is in the FCC legal regulations.
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Old 06-07-2022, 09:31 AM   #18
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It really kind of amazes me how often we get these questions that amount to, "Do I really have to obey the law?"
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Old 06-07-2022, 09:41 AM   #19
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It really kind of amazes me how often we get these questions that amount to, "Do I really have to obey the law?"

Yes, it is amazing. Especially when one considers the minimal cost and effort.
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Old 06-07-2022, 10:11 AM   #20
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It really kind of amazes me how often we get these questions that amount to, "Do I really have to obey the law?"
No, your honor, I didnít think the laws applied to meÖ
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