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Thread: VHF radio license?

  1. #1

    Default VHF radio license?

    hi guys.....do boaters in the states HAVE to have a license to OPERATE a radio?....i know you did at one time,,is it still so?.....also, for US boaters when you arrive in canada, do you HAVE to have VHF station license in our waters?...thanks larry

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  2. #2
    Member NewMoon's Avatar
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    US FCC regs say US boaters don't need a license as long as they stay in the US, but they do if operating in another country. I don't know how it works for Canadian boaters in the US.
    Richard Cook
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    Member fullbush's Avatar
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    hey bcriverhunter-- I know one thing for sure, if you're American drop your anchor in Canadian waters you had better have visited customs. My friend grabbed a piling and we dropped our pick, guess what? When the Canadian CG pulled up, we got boarded, and fined 7K for not going to customs , carrying unchecked guns, smuggling offensive weapons into Canada ( Ar-15 and mini-14) and a freezer full of meat, and yes not having a radio license. We asked the Canadian CG how come they boarded us and not the other seiner that was tied to the piling and they said because we dropped our anchor. Apparently if you're tied to a piling you're not "officially" stopping in Canada, but if you drop iron you are. Anyway it was quit an ordeal.





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    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    I believe you do need to have an FCC license no matter where you are operating, the CG always ask for it anyway,
    that's where you'll get your call sign, which they'll ask for before you even get boarded,

    so if you're talking to them on a radio, you probably oughta have a call sign

    Not a big deal to get, $100 something, lasts like ten yrs or so, get the app from your local Electronics store or serarch it out online, applications can be done online as I remember.

    Wouldn't risk not having one
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

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    Member jrogers's Avatar
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    I disagree, you do not need any license to operate a marine VHF radio in the US.

    The Telecommunications Act of 1996 permits recreational boaters to have and use a VHF marine radio, EPIRB, and marine radar without having an FCC ship station license. Boaters traveling on international voyages, having an HF single sideband radiotelephone or marine satellite terminal, or required to carry a marine radio under any other regulation must still carry an FCC ship station license.
    Those not exempted by the Telecommunications Act of 1996 must still have an FCC ship station license. A ship station license application is made on FCC Form 506, available from local FCC Field Offices, by writing to the FCC, P.O. Box 1050, Gettysburg PA 17326, or by calling the FCC Forms Distribution Center at (202)418-3676 or the toll-free number (800) 418-FORM. Forms can also be obtained from most marine electronics dealers.
    Radios can be used immediately upon license application. The license is not transferable if a boat is sold or if the installed radio equipment is moved from one boat to another.
    If you wish to purchase a portable radio for use on more than one boat, only one license is necessary. When completing an FCC Application for Ship Station License (form 506), check "Portable" in block 10, "Type of License".
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    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    That's good information there jrogers,

    I had a feeling it may only apply to Commercial Vessels, and that Recreational boaters are exempt,
    just not sure why, so figured it'd be better to have one, than not

    So, to clarify, do you think he might need one to operate as a US vessel, transmitting on VHF, in Canadian waters?

    Thanks for the details
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

  7. #7
    Member jrogers's Avatar
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    Looks like you don't need them in CA anymore as well:

    After April 1999, VHF Radios on pleasure boats are no longer 'required' to have a ship station licence within Canadian waters due to changes to the Industry Canada Radiocommunications Regulations (Section 15.2 Exemption of Radio Apparatus on Board a Ship). (1-watt radios never required a station licence.)
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    Member NewMoon's Avatar
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    After a bit more research on US FCC and Canadian government websites, it seems that both countries rules are essentially the same:

    Recreational boaters operating domestically need no VHF license, but to operate legally in the other country you do need a license - from your country.

    Here's the scoop for US boaters, from the FCC's web site:


    Who Needs a Ship Station License


    You do not need a license to operate a marine VHF radio, radar, or EPIRBs aboard voluntary ships operating domestically. The term "voluntary ships" refers to ships that are not required by law to carry a radio. Generally, this term applies to recreation or pleasure craft. The term "voluntary ships" does not apply to the following:
    1. Cargo ships over 300 gross tons navigating in the open sea;
    2. Ships certified by the U.S. Coast Guard to carry more than 6 passengers for hire in the open sea or tidewaters of the U.S.;
    3. Power driven ships over 20 meters in length on navigable waterways;
    4. Ships of more than 100 gross tons certified by the U.S. Coast Guard to carry at least one passenger on navigable waterways;
    5. Tow boats of more than 7.8 meters in length on navigable waterways; and,
    6. Uninspected commercial fishing industry vessels required to carry a VHF radio.
    7. Ships required to carry an Automatic Identification System (AIS) transceiver by the U.S. Coast Guard regulations enacted pursuant to the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2000.


    Ships are considered as operating domestically when they do not travel to foreign ports or do not transmit radio communications to foreign stations. Sailing in international waters is permitted, so long as the previous conditions are met. If you travel to a foreign port (e.g., Canada, Mexico, Bahamas, British Virgin Islands), a license is required. Additionally, if you travel to a foreign port, you are required to have an operator permit.
    Richard Cook
    New Moon (Bounty 257)
    "Cruising in a Big Way"

  9. #9

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    hi guys! here is what i know,,,,i need to have a VHF OPERATORS license to transmit in canada, i will write the exam in a month or so.........i do not, however, need a station lic to operate in canada!....now, if i travel across the border, say into kethican area(next year) i will need a station license for the boat!..that is the canadian requirment.....thanks larry

    ps. i was hopeing they wold throw out the operators lic like you guys, but it is still not the case!! crap!

    29' Wooldridge Pilot House, Twin 200 Hp Etecs! "...Pez Gordo..."
    18' Wooldridge Sport with 200 hp sport jet. "...Little Pez..."

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