Most countries require maritime VHF equipment to be registered and may also require at least one person on board to have successfully completed a Radio Operator’s Training course.

VHF Radio Licence

The registering of the equipment should be done in the ship’s home country as it will be they who will issue the call sign and the MMSI number for any DSC equipment.

Canadian and US-specification apparatus has a different channel plan from Europe and other channel plans must not be used. When in European waters, if the apparatus allows the user to select a channel plan, you must select the plan that applies to Europe.

Another requirement is that when a boat is sold, the original VHF Radio Licence Authority must be informed and the new owner will need to apply for a new one.

Operator Training

The Short Range Operator’s Licence can be issued on completion of an appropriate training course. This could be done in any country. Although it is obviously easier if carried out in your native language. There will be some differences depending on which country the course is held as there are national variations in the use of some channels.

Many sailing schools also offer VHF courses. These are often just one day and the cost is very reasonable.

It is also possible to complete a training course online, although a practical exam will still need to be taken to obtain an operator’s license.

Some useful contacts





New Zealand

Please email Noonsite if you know of contacts for any other countries. (Ed)

Dated February 2016