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jimh posted 08-20-2011 10:08 AM ET (US)   Profile for jimh   Send Email to jimh  
After thinking about it for perhaps a decade, I decided to get an FCC SHIP STATION LICENSE for my boat. The process of getting the license is an interesting example of modern governance. The reason for getting the license is also driven by modernity. I explain both.

Getting an FCC SHIP STATION License

To interact with the FCC in any license application matter, you must first create or obtain an FCC REGISTRATION NUMBER or FRN. No FRN, no service with FCC. Fortunately, the FCC has a website to help you get started:

http://wireless.fcc.gov/uls/index.htm?job=about_getting_started

Once you have an FRN, you can use the FCC's Universal Licensing Service, or ULS, which is also accessed by a web interface:

http://wireless.fcc.gov/uls/index.htm?job=home

Armed with your FRN and using the ULS, you can apply for a new FCC SHIP STATION license. This will cost you $160 [UPDATE: As of 2015 the fee has increased to $215]. The license is good for ten years, but it is specific to a particular vessel. If you get a new boat, you will have to modify your license. License modifications are not free.

The ULS website will drive you through a long series of forms and data entry, leading up to the point of actually applying for a license. You have to pre-pay the fees with the application. There is no refund if your application is rejected. Take care to fill out the forms accurately!

When it comes time to pay, the FCC will accept payment in credit card form. You will be transported to another website to enter your credit card information.

If all goes well, the process should not take more than an hour of your time. If your license application is approved and the FCC grants you a station license, you should have an electronic confirmation of it in a day or two. A few days later you will get the printed official authorization in the mail.

Why Get a SHIP STATION License

For most recreational boat operators who do not make international voyages, there is no particular need to get an FCC SHIP STATION license for their small boat. However, if you make international voyages in your boat, and operate in foreign water, you may find that the countries you visit can require you to have a station license from your home country. I believe this is the case with Canada. Since we do a great deal of boating in Canadian water, I thought it was time to get an official FCC SHIP STATION license for my small boat.

We have been boating in Canadian water since 1986. In our sailing days, the sailboat had a station license. However, I recall that back in those days the license fee was much lower, about $20 or so. The recent increase in FCC fees has been a disincentive for us to get a license. Also, in 25-years of boating in Canada, no one in any sort of authority has ever raised any question about the status of our boat's radio license. It seems to be a regulation that is ignored entirely in actual practice.

I finally rationalized that an FCC license was only going to be a $16-per-year expense, when amortized over the full ten-year term of the authorization. Of course, that depended on maintaining the same boat for the next ten years, too. I think we have come to a realization that we probably are not going to change boats in the next few years, we like our present boat, and there is a reasonably good chance we might still have it ten years from now. So, on that basis, we ignored the cost of the license. And, we could afford the $160.

Thus, having an FCC SHIP STATION license will make our boating in Canada compliant with their radio regulations. As I said, it is unlikely we will ever find ourselves in a situation where the regulations might be enforced, but if we do we are ready.

There is another advantage to having an FCC SHIP STATION license: you will get a marine mobile service identity (MMSI) that will be registered with the FCC and shared with other nations. It is possible to get an MMSI at no cost from the BoatUS registration system, but those MMSI numbers are said to not be shared with other countries. They are known only to the United States. Again, since, we do so much boating in Canada, it seemed stupid to have a digital selective calling radio (DSC radio) with an EMERGENCY transmit system that was going to send out an MMSI that would not be in any database except in the USA. If we are going to be in an emergency situation, for us it will be more likely to be in Canadian water than in U.S. water. So, perhaps in a bit of rationalization, I decided it would be advantageous to get an official FCC MMSI for our boat. This comes with the SHIP STATION LICENSE (but I think you have to check a box on the form to get one). I hope that if I ever actually have to send an EMERGENCY transmission via DSC, my radio will send an MMSI that will give the responders the proper information, no matter if in the U.S.A or in Canada. I hope I am not going too much on good faith in modern government information systems.

Finally, an official FCC MMSI will permit operation of an automatic identification system (AIS) Class-B transponder on the boat. I don't actually plan to immediately get a Class-B AIS transponder, but, if the price of these devices drops any lower, I may have to. In any event, I am prepared if I do want to get one. In the United States, a Class-B AIS transponder cannot be configured by the owner for the MMSI data. The manufacturer or the selling agent must configure the transponder with the MMSI data. This requirement is specific to the U.S. and required by the FCC. So you cannot even buy an AIS Class-B transponder unless you have a valid MMSI to be programmed. Again, perhaps a bit of rationalization on my part, I figure having an FCC MMSI will give me the option in the future to get a Class-B AIS transponder.

There you have it: my reasons and rationalizations for getting an official FCC SHIP STATION license.

6992WHALER posted 08-20-2011 10:45 AM ET (US)     Profile for 6992WHALER  Send Email to 6992WHALER     
Jim,
Before this last Trip to Canada, securing a Ship Station license was on my list. As we got closer to the trip and things got busy that task dropped of the must get done list.
I have to say a small part of me does not like not being "legal" especially when the Canadian Coast Guard reminded us that we had picked a none pleasure craft communication channel.
I had a Station License for my last boat, and I even remember the days when you had to have an operators license.

If you already have a MMSI number do they just use it?
If they give you a new one my understanding is you have to return your radio to the manufacturer to get the new MSSI number installed?
John

jimh posted 08-20-2011 12:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The SHIP STATION license came with a new MMSI. I will have to send my radio back to the manufacturer to have the new MMSI entered into the radio, or, I might just buy a new radio!

The handling of MMSI entry into a radio is also a bit awkward, since you only get one opportunity to enter the MMSI as a user. I believe that this limitation was required so that end-users could not willy-nilly be changing the identity of a radio. I don't know if this was done with preventing fraud in mind, that is, where someone might try to impersonate another vessel by modifying their radio MMSI to take on a new identity, or for avoiding accidental changes, which might occur if someone made a mistake in operating the radio and changed the MMSI inadvertently while poking around with the radio controls.

6992WHALER posted 08-20-2011 01:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for 6992WHALER  Send Email to 6992WHALER     
Sending the radio back makes it kind of inconvenient.

In your case Jim, it sounds like time for a Matrix AIS+ GX2150. I knew you could not hold out long after playing with my radio.
jimh posted 08-20-2011 01:55 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
John--Not so fast. I might get an AIS transponder, in which case I would also have an AIS receiver, so there wouldn't be a need for the VHF radio to be also an AIS receiver.
6992WHALER posted 08-20-2011 02:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for 6992WHALER  Send Email to 6992WHALER     
True, but I see the new Radio as your intermediate step while you wait for the price to come down on the transponder.

As far as the AIS transponder, once you turn it on the world will know where you are, are you sure you want to be that easy to find? DSC lets the world find you in an emergency but only your friends under normal conditions.

Chuck Tribolet posted 08-22-2011 08:37 AM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
Jimh: check your radio manual. The two Standard-Horizon
radios I've dealt with allowed the MMSI to be entered twice,
not once.


Chuck

jimh posted 08-22-2011 03:16 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Chuck--The instructions are clear in my radio. One-shot MMSI entry. I have already had to send the radio back for MMSI re-programming.

It was common a few years ago to have two opportunities for MMSI programming, but in the past five years or so it seems like most radio manufacturers have changed their policy to only one MMSI programming in the field. I believe this change in policy was probably required by the FCC or by the international marine organization that qualifies DSC radios for type.

Here are the specific instructions for my radio, the Standard-Horizon GX1500S:

quote:
11.2.2 PROGRAMMING THE MMSI

WARNING

User MMSI can be input only ONCE, please be careful not to input the incorrect MMSI number. If you try to enter the MMSI more than one time, the radio will show the screen to the right. If the MMSI number has been entered incorrectly, the transceiver will have to be sent to Factory Service to be reset.


jimh posted 08-22-2011 03:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
A good point to jump to for information about FCC SHIP STATION licenses is

http://wireless.fcc.gov/services/index.htm?job=service_home& id=ship_stations

David Pendleton posted 08-22-2011 04:43 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Pendleton  Send Email to David Pendleton     
According to the FCC, you also must have what's called a Restricted Radiotelephone Operators Permit, in addition to the Station license. That can be applied for online also, and never expires.
jimh posted 08-22-2011 04:58 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
A Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Permit is a operator license. An operator's license is different from a station license. A station license is for a particular transmitter installation. An operator's license follows the operator around from place to place.

I don't have a Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Permit because I have a much higher grade Radiotelephone License. I don't believe that recreational vessels which have voluntarily equipped themselves with a VHF Marine Band radio need to have the operators of the radio hold any particular FCC operator's license. However, I could be wrong. I base my opinion on this statement from the FCC on their website:

"You do not need a license to operate a marine VHF radio, radar, or EPIRBs aboard voluntary ships operating domestically. "

http://wireless.fcc.gov/services/index.htm?job=licensing& id=ship_stations

To persuade me a license is needed, I would need to see a cite of some FCC regulation or website.

jimh posted 08-22-2011 05:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Also, the FCC says:.

quote:
Radio Equipment You May Use

You do not need a license to use marine VHF radios, any type of EPIRB, any type of radar, GPS or LORAN receivers, depth finders, CB radio, or amateur radio (an amateur license is required).

Source: Op.Cit.

David Pendleton posted 08-22-2011 05:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Pendleton  Send Email to David Pendleton     
Received in an email from the FCC (after I called them an hour ago).

quote:
If you plan to dock in a foreign port (e.g., Canada or the Bahamas) or if you communicate with foreign coast or ship stations, you must have a Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Permits (sometimes referred to by boaters as an "individual license") in addition to your ship radio station license. However, you do not need an operator permit if the following two conditions apply:

--You merely plan to sail in domestic or international waters without docking in any foreign ports and without communicating with foreign coast stations

--And your radio operates only on VHF frequencies


jimh posted 08-22-2011 05:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Good on the email, but can we have a cite of a regulation that says that?
jimh posted 08-22-2011 06:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I don't understand why the FCC could require you have a license to operate a radio when you are in a foreign country. If you don't need a license to operate the radio in the USA where the FCC has jurisdiction, the FCC does not seem likely to be able to require you to have a license when you operate the radio in another country. They don't have jurisdiction in other countries.

Now it might be that other countries will require the operator to have a license, and they are willing to recognize the FCC Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Permit as a valid license. but this is a concern of the radio authority in the other country.

This reminds me of a CATCH-22 proposition.

In the case of Canada, we would need a citation of Canadian regulations that say you must have a valid operator's license in your own country in order to operate a VHF Marine Band radio aboard a voluntarily-equipped vessel when in Canada.

In Canada I believe there is an exemption if you are a visitor and stay less than 45-days. You don't need a license to operate a VHF Marine Band radio.

jimh posted 08-22-2011 06:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
By the way, in Canada, you need a license to operate a ship radio, whether or not the ship has a station license or not. See

http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/eng/h_sf01775.html

quote:

Certification

Do I still require a Radio Operator Certificate?

Yes. The Radio Operator Certificate is still a requirement for anyone who may be operating the maritime radio equipment, regardless of whether a radio licence is required.


David Pendleton posted 08-22-2011 06:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Pendleton  Send Email to David Pendleton     
Actually, in Canada, you do. I think that's why the requirement exists for us, as well.

quote:
Anyone who uses a VHF radio must follow the procedures described in the VHF Radiotelephone Practices and Procedures Regulations. Currently, all VHF radio operators are required to have a Restricted Operator's Certificate (ROC) with maritime qualifications. Canada recognizes the American Certificate.

http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/marinesafety/debs-obs-quick-quick_visitor-1610. htm#g

It is surprisingly difficult to find a cite on the FCC web site(s), other than the link(s) you already posted. The instructions for obtaining the permit are under the Ship's Station section, but it's doesn't actually say you must have one.

The person I spoke to at the FCC assured me it was a requirement and it also stated that in the email I received.

jimh posted 08-22-2011 11:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
It looks like David and I were both composing our replies at the same time. We said somewhat similar things.

Here is a good website with information about visiting Canada and boating there.

http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/marinesafety/debs-obs-quick-quick_visitor-1610. htm

It seems a bit curious to me, but, from what I can read at the above website, if you visit Canada with your boat, you can operate your boat in Canada without getting the necessary boat operator's license that is normally required for recreational boat operators, as long as you are not in Canada for more than 45 days. (It does not say if the 45-days are consecutive, cumulative, lifetime, etc., so I assume that means 45-days of consecutive visit each time you visit.)

However, there does not appear to be an exemption for foreign visitors from having a radio operator's license or permit. You must have a permit to operate a marine radio. Canada extends reciprocity to holders of American radio licenses, so if you have an FCC Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Permit this will be considered to met the requirement in Canada.

This means you can run your boat without getting a license but don't operate the radio on your boat.

David Pendleton posted 08-22-2011 11:36 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Pendleton  Send Email to David Pendleton     
Personally, I find navigating and interpreting these regulations exceedingly difficult.

I wonder if my U.S. amateur radio license satisfies the radiotelephone operators permit requirement?

I suspect these regulations are rarely enforced because everyone is in violation because no one can interpret (or find) the definitive requirements.

jimh posted 08-23-2011 08:53 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
On the basis of the degree of difficulty or amount of knowledge needed to pass, the examination for an Amateur Radio license should be judged superior to the Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Permit. The latter is obtained by just filling out a form, and requires only an avowal that the applicant is aware of the regulations and will abide by them. There is no examination required, as I recall. The process of obtaining the Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Permit is the most difficult element. Holders of a Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Permit have demonstrated they can correctly fill out a government form and pay the fee, and that is about all.
jimh posted 08-23-2011 06:04 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
When applying for a Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Permit, the applicant says:

(from FCC application form)

----
I certify that:

--I can keep at least a rough written log.

--I can speak and hear.

--I am familiar with the provisions of the applicable laws, treaties, rules, and regulations governing the radio station which will be operated.

--I need this permit because of intent to engage in international voyages or flights, international communications, or intent to comply with the requirements of the Vessel Bridge-to-Bridge Radiotelephone Act.
-----

The license has a term of lifetime. The fee is $60. There won't be any other fees unless you lose the license and need a replacement.

jimh posted 08-25-2011 05:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
As I mentioned, the raison d'etre for getting a SHIP STATION LICENSE was to have my license information shared with other nations. There is an International Telecommunications Union (ITU) website where ship radio callsigns and MMSI numbers can be searched. I checked it a few times to see if my newly issued license was found; it was not. A check with the FCC in Gettysburg found that the FCC sends data to the ITU on the 15th of each month. I will have to wait to at least until September 15 for the FCC to send my data to the ITU. Then, I suppose I will have to wait until the ITU integrates the new data into their website look-up database. When I find my ship listed there, I will know my mission has been accomplished!

For the curious, the ITU ship station look-up is found on the web at

http://www.itu.int/online/mms/mars/ship_search.sh

Hoosier posted 08-26-2011 12:16 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
Having recently gotten tangled up in the Canadian bureaucracy I researched this subject. I think this says we don't need a license.

Radio transmitting equipment

U.S. residents are allowed to operate aircraft, marine, amateur, citizens' band (CB), General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) and Family Radio Service (FRS) radios as well as cellular and PCS (personal communications service) mobile radio telephones in Canada without explicit permission from Industry Canada. If you are not a U.S. resident, you will need permission from Industry Canada to use this equipment. For more information, contact Industry Canada by e-mail at spectrum_pubs@ic.gc.ca or visit their Web site at www.ic.gc.ca.

from

http://www.cbsa.gc.ca/publications/pub/bsf5082-eng.html

jimh posted 08-26-2011 02:43 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Dave and Dave--Thanks for the citations of regulations in Canada regarding operating a marine radio. As I read the cited articles I conclude:

--Industry Canada says no license needed

--Transport Canada says license needed

In this regard, Canada sounds a lot like the United States.

I am calling in the lawyer (Kevin) to figure this one out.

K Albus posted 08-26-2011 02:53 PM ET (US)     Profile for K Albus  Send Email to K Albus     
Jim - That'll have to be a winter project. I started looking at the FCC regulations and my head started to spin. It's going to take a good deal of time to go through both the US and Canadian regulations and figure out the answers to the questions posed.
David Pendleton posted 08-26-2011 10:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Pendleton  Send Email to David Pendleton     
Good luck with that.

I say ignore it all. They don't enforce it anyway.

The only benefit I see from any of this is having your MMSI number published outside the U.S., which means all you have to do is get a Ship's Station License from the FCC instead of BoatU.S. or the other U.S. only providers.

David Pendleton posted 08-26-2011 10:10 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Pendleton  Send Email to David Pendleton     
What I meant to say is get your MMSI number via the FCC (a result of getting a Ship's Station License), rather than a U.S.-only source.
jimh posted 09-24-2011 10:27 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
As described above, I received my ship station license in August, around the 20th of the month. The FCC should have sent my license information to the ITU on the 15th of the next month, or September 15, 2011. I just checked the ITU website where one can look up ship license data in the ITU database, and my ship callsign is not found in the ITU database. I guess I will have to give the ITU more time to update their information, assuming the FCC has sent my ship station license information to them. I will check next month, November 2011, to see if my callsign has been registered in the ITU database.
jimh posted 09-27-2011 10:53 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Hooray! I found my ship station license information in the ITU database!
Agntvbb posted 09-27-2011 11:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for Agntvbb  Send Email to Agntvbb     
I can completely respect and understand why you went to the lengths you did to accomplish this, but this strikes me as the classic case of "easier to seek forgiveness than to seek permission".

I'm curious, what is the worst case had you been caught in Canadian waters without the ship station license?

jimh posted 09-27-2011 11:58 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I have no idea what sort of penalty could be imposed by Canadian authorities on a visiting recreational boater. Generally operating a radio station without a license is looked on as a serious infraction, but I don't think there is much of a mandate to hunt down and find all American recreational boaters in Canada who don't have a station license or an operator license. As I said, in 25-years of boating in Canada, no one has ever asked me about my ship station license.

However, I would not automatically assume that the Canadians are always going to be warm and friendly to all American boaters. In the lower Detroit River there is a popular protected anchorage, Crystal Bay, where people like to hang out on their boats. One side of it is in the USA and the other side is in Ontario, Canada. In the past few years the Canadians started playing hardball with any American boaters who dropped an anchor in the Canadian side of the lagoon if they had not reported previously to a port of entry and presented themselves to Customs and Immigration. This spot has quite a bit of activity, noise, drinking, and so on, and that's what probably started the more rigorous enforcement. If cruising along the North shore of Lake Superior, probably not so much enforcement would be found.

K Albus posted 09-28-2011 08:31 AM ET (US)     Profile for K Albus  Send Email to K Albus     
[Link to silly video parody deleted.]
jimh posted 09-28-2011 09:06 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
My enthusiasm is perhaps misinterpreted. That the FCC and ITU communicated the data among themselves is the most impressive achievement. Even if it took six weeks, I am still impressed.
6992WHALER posted 12-12-2011 05:12 PM ET (US)     Profile for 6992WHALER  Send Email to 6992WHALER     
I talked to the FCC today.
I wanted to know if they had a record of my Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Permit. My wallet was stolen in 1984 along with my copy of the permit. The permit never expires but it turns out the FCC does not have records from that far back.

The FCC employee told me that if I was going to travel in foreign waters such as Canada I was required to have a ship Station License and I needed to get a new Operator Permit.

She sent me an email with all the directions and info.

The question of why we need a license outside US waters but not on US waters appears to be answered in the quote below

"NOTE: A ship radio station license authorizes radio equipment aboard a ship, while the restricted radiotelephone operator permit authorizes a specific person to communicate with foreign stations or use certain radio equipment (e.g., MF/HF single sideband radio or satellite radio). For more information please see the following website http://wireless.fcc.gov/services/index.htm?job=licensing&id=ship_stations"


It looks to me that when we take a boat into foreign waters we need permission (the operator permit and the ship station license) from the US government to have the equipment in a foreign country and to use it to communicate with foreign stations.

Is this requirement because of a treaty with the foreign governments? If there is no treaty then why would a foreign county enforce it?

I guess it is time to get my papers in order.

6992WHALER posted 12-12-2011 07:23 PM ET (US)     Profile for 6992WHALER  Send Email to 6992WHALER     
I found this interesting

"A station license is not required for Canadian boaters in Canadian waters, but you will need a VHF Station License if you plan to voyage in US waters. Plans for a reciprocal agreement relieving Canadian boaters of this requirement, were abandoned due to the change in security attitudes following 9/11"

http://www.sailing.ca/education_and_training/roc_m/

Hoosier posted 03-17-2012 03:43 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
This subject came up in a discussion today so I reread this exceptional piece of literature and am as confused now as I was last year. But, forgive me Kevin, putting on my sea lawyer t-shirt, I think that it could be argued that:

* The FCC does not require a license for a marine VHF radio.The critical distinction is VHF.

* The FCC "may" require a license for a marine radio if used to communicate with foreign shore stations and vessels. There is no mention re any frequency distinction.

* Canada does not require a license if one is a US resident in compliance with FCC licensing regulations.

So, if a group of US boaters is on a cruise in Canada and we use our VHF radios to talk among ourselves we are in compliance with FCC regulations. If one of our group has the necessary Operator/Station licenses he (Jim) can make the arrangements with foreign shore stations (marinas) and we are all in compliance.

Has anyone see anything new on this subject?

jimh posted 03-18-2012 02:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Dave--Your logic is brilliant. As long as an American boater does not communicate with foreign shore stations, the station license and operator license may not be necessary. I think. But, as a hedge, I got a station license and I already have an operator's license.
K Albus posted 03-18-2012 07:51 PM ET (US)     Profile for K Albus  Send Email to K Albus     
I spent hours reviewing the U.S. and Canadian statues and regulations, and I am not willing to provide any advice or definitive statements regarding the necessity for a station license or an operator permit.

Here are links to some of the key statutes and regulations:

Section 4(1) of Canada's Radiocommunication Act provides, among other things, that no person shall operate or possess a radio except in accordance with a "radio authorization," unless the radio apparatus is exempted under regulations enacted pursuant to the Act.

quote:
4. (1) No person shall, except under and in accordance with a radio authorization, install, operate or possess radio apparatus, other than
(a) radio apparatus exempted by or under regulations made under paragraph 6(1)(m); or
(b) radio apparatus that is capable only of the reception of broadcasting and that is not a distribution undertaking.

See: http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/R-2/page-2.html#h-4

Section 33 of Canada's Radiocommunication Regulations provides that you must have an appropriate radio operator's certificate to operate a radio in the marine service. See: http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/SOR-96-484/page-9. html#h-32

There does not appear to be any exemption for the requirement to have a radio operator's license in Canada for recreational vessels.

Section 12 of Canada's Radiocommunication Regulations provides that radio equipment which is licensed or exempt from licensing in another country may be used by a person from that other country to communicate with radios licensed or exempt from licensing in Canada, but only if the other country has a reciprocal agreement with Canada.

quote:
Stations Licensed or Exempted in Another Country
12. Radio apparatus used in a mobile station that is licensed or exempted by the responsible administration of another country is exempt from the application of subsection 4(1) of the Act if the mobile station is used for communications with stations licensed or exempted in Canada or that other country and if
(a) the operator is a citizen of that other country; and
(b) a reciprocal agreement that allows similar privileges to Canadians exists between that other country and Canada.

See: http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/SOR-96-484/page-5. html#h-12

The ship station licensing exemption for VHF marine radios used by U.S. citizens in U.S. waters on recreational vessels is contained in 47 C.F.R. S 80.13(c), which provides as follows:

quote:
(c) A ship station is licensed by rule and does not need an individual license issued by the FCC if the ship station is not subject to the radio equipment carriage requirements of any statute, treaty or agreement to which the United States is signatory, the ship station does not travel to foreign ports, and the ship station does not make international communications. A ship station licensed by rule is authorized to transmit radio signals using a marine radio operating in the 156-162 MHz band, any type of AIS, any type of EPIRB, and any type of radar installation. All other transmissions must be authorized under a ship station license. Even though an individual license is not required, a ship station licensed by rule must be operated in accordance with all applicable operating requirements, procedures, and technical specifications found in this part.

See: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-2011-title47-vol5/xml/ CFR-2011-title47-vol5-sec80-13.xml

Under the U.S. regulations, you should have a ship station license if you are traveling to foreign ports or making international communications.

The operator license exemption for VHF radios used by U.S. citizens in U.S. waters on recreational vessels is contained in 47 C.F.R. S80.177(a), which provides in relevant part as follows:

quote:
(a) No radio operator authorization is required to operate:
. . .
(5) A ship station operating in the VHF band on board a ship voluntarily equipped with radio and sailing on a domestic voyage.

See: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-2011-title47-vol5/xml/ CFR-2011-title47-vol5-sec80-177.xml

For international voyages, a Restricted Radio Telephone Operator Permit is required. See: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-2011-title47-vol5/xml/ CFR-2011-title47-vol5-sec80-165.xml and http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-2011-title47-vol5/xml/ CFR-2011-title47-vol5-sec80-151.xml

K Albus posted 03-19-2012 08:28 AM ET (US)     Profile for K Albus  Send Email to K Albus     
After giving this some further thought and reviewing some additional online resources, I am now confident that in order to legally use a VHF marine radio in Canada, a U.S. boater should have a ship station license and a Restricted Radio Telephone Operator Permit.
jimh posted 03-19-2012 11:05 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I would emend by saying "at least a Restricted Radio Telephone Operator Permit."
Hoosier posted 03-19-2012 09:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
I give up. So, according to our FCC it is illegal to send out a DSC SOS, or a voice SOS, or activate an EPIRB, or PLB if we are in Canadian waters and don't have a license?

I found this on BoatUs's website (both questions are not dated):

Is an FCC VHF license required?

No, recreational boats under 65' operating in U.S. waters no longer require a VHF license.

I am a recreational boater in the United States but regularly go into Canadian waters. Can I still use the BoatUS MMSI?

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.

This begs the question: if the Canadians aren't enforcing the US regulations, is the FCC?

K Albus posted 03-19-2012 11:04 PM ET (US)     Profile for K Albus  Send Email to K Albus     
David - Think of it in these terms: If you are a U.S. citizen and you are properly licensed under U.S. law, Canada will treat you as properly licensed in Canada while you are in Canada.

If you are a U.S. citizen and you are operating your VHF radio in Canada, you are required by U.S. law to have a ship station license and at least a Restricted Radio Telephone Operator Permit. If you have a ship station license and a Restricted Radio Telephone Operator Permit issued by the FCC, Canada will treat you as in full compliance with their laws.

If you are a U.S. citizen and you would like to operate your VHF radio without a ship station license or a Restricted Radio Telephone Operator Permit, you may do so, but only on a vessel of less than 65 feet, and only on domestic voyages. You also may not engage in any international communications.

If you are a U.S. citizen and you operate your VHF radio in Canada without a ship station license and a Restricted Radio Telephone Operator Permit, you do so at your own risk. You are technically in violation of Canadian and U.S. law.

I do not believe that either country requires any type of license or permit to simply monitor VHF communications. Furthermore, I very seriously doubt that either country would charge you with any type of violation for issuing a legitimate distress call, regardless of your location or your license or permit status.

jimh posted 03-20-2012 08:38 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The cost of compliance is not onerous. A ship station license is $16/year on a ten-year basis. An operator's license is a one-time $60 fee, good for a lifetime. There is a benefit to a having a ship station license: you can obtain an MMSI that is registered internationally.
Jefecinco posted 03-20-2012 09:31 AM ET (US)     Profile for Jefecinco  Send Email to Jefecinco     
In 1959 I was hired by an ambulance service. In order to use the two-way radios I was required to get a Limited Radio Telephone Operators Permit which I still have. Somehow I doubt the 53 year old permit would be acceptable to the authorities today.

Butch

djahncke posted 03-20-2012 09:46 AM ET (US)     Profile for djahncke  Send Email to djahncke     
A 53 year old Restricted Radio Operators Permit is still valid, as long as you still have the documentation. I got a Restricted Radio Operator Permit in the early 60's so that I could operate the marine band radio on the family boat (it was an AM low band radio in those days). While the permit is still valid I no longer have any documentation as many years in my wallet literally wore it out. To make sure I am legal I reapplied last year when I got a ships licence for my Revenge last year.

6992WHALER posted 03-20-2012 11:41 AM ET (US)     Profile for 6992WHALER  Send Email to 6992WHALER     
I was at the National United States Power Squadron Conference in Fl in January.
One of the speakers (I will have to look up his name) is writing the USPS text book on VHF radios. He was in a meeting with both the US and Canadian Coast Guards.
The two organizations have agreed to not prosecute anyone using a VHF radio without proper licensing if the radio is used for an emergency call DSC or non DSC. They have made this gentleman's agreement because it would take a change in international treaties to change the laws.

Neither side agreed to allow the use of VHF radios in their waters for pleasure. To do that the a U.S. operator must have a Restricted Radio Operators Permit, and the boat must have a station license.

I believe he also said that to be legal in Canada the MMSI number must be issued from the FCC. I am not 100% sure I remember that correctly. If I can find my notes I will see if I wrote that down.

I lost my Restricted Radio Operators Permit when my wallet was stolen back in 1984. The FCC has no record of it so I will have to get a new one. If I still had the paper it would still be valid.

Jefecinco posted 03-20-2012 06:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jefecinco  Send Email to Jefecinco     
That's good news. I still have the card and it's in good condition. The only other old card I have is my Social Security Card issued in 1953.

Butch

Hoosier posted 03-21-2012 11:47 AM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
I may have both, someplace, from when I first equipped my Montauk with a radio back in 1988; a license was required then. Now, Sea Lawyer T-Shirt again, I read that a legal way around having to get a station license for each boat you have is to get one for your handheld and check the "portable" box on the license.

The whole issue of domestic/international MMSI numbers now raises the question that came up in another thread about just how well integrated the US and Canadian DSC systems really are. And if we have already programmed our DSC radio with a US MMSI number and now get an FCC issued one we're SOL, most radios don't let you reprogram the number.

6992WHALER posted 03-21-2012 12:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for 6992WHALER  Send Email to 6992WHALER     
The DCS systems are not integrated.
If the Canadian's want info on a US MMSI number they have to contact the US Coast Guard to get the info. They do not have direct access to the data base. National defense and all that jazz.

You might have to send the radio back to the manufacture for a reset of the MMSI number. One of my DSC radios can only be programed once but my older DSC radio can be programed twice.

David Pendleton posted 03-21-2012 12:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Pendleton  Send Email to David Pendleton     
Why do you think it matters?

Do you think a rescue is going to be delayed because they have position but a U.S.-only MMSI number?

6992WHALER posted 03-21-2012 12:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for 6992WHALER  Send Email to 6992WHALER     
I don't think it will delay a rescue,
if the DCS radio is connected properly to a GPS and has a MMSI number.

If it is not than they might be missing some important boat information and contact information that might help them find you.

The issue is not rescue as much as requirements. I feel the risk of the authorities fining me for not having the proper paper work is not very great. That is why I do not have the proper credentials. But I am considering getting them so I will be legal.

It is a personal choice to break the law or not.

If you plan to never use your radio except for emergencies then don't worry about it. If you are going to use it for pleasure than be aware that you are breaking the law.

David Pendleton posted 03-21-2012 01:04 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Pendleton  Send Email to David Pendleton     
Most, if not all of us, violated the law on the 2008 N.C. trip. At one point we were even scolded on-air for using a particular channel.

I don't think it was anyone's intention to violate the law, indeed many of us were not even aware of the requirement.

I too chose to apply for the required permits, so as to have one less thing to worry about when/if boarded.

K Albus posted 03-21-2012 01:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for K Albus  Send Email to K Albus     
David - The same thing happened on the 2011 Georgian Bay Trip.

I thought I was making real progress this year by getting my new VHF radio interfaced with my GPS/chartplotter and programming in an MMSI. But now you guys are making me look bad with your station licenses and your operator permits. I hate the idea of having to send my VHF radio in to have the MMSI removed if I decide to get a ship station license, but I also hate the idea of being the only guy not in compliance with the law.

By the way, I've read on other forums that some VHF radios will let you change the MMSI, even though the manual states that you won't be able to. You might want to give this a try before sending your radio back to the manufacturer.

David Pendleton posted 03-21-2012 02:23 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Pendleton  Send Email to David Pendleton     
You don't have to get a new MMSI when you get your station license/ROP.

K Albus posted 03-21-2012 02:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for K Albus  Send Email to K Albus     
From the FCC website:

quote:
If your vessel requires licensing by the FCC after you have obtained an MMSI number from BoatUS, Sea Tow Service, Shine Micro, Inc., or United States Power Squadrons, that MMSI number cannot be used during the application/licensing process when you file FCC Forms 159 and 605 with the FCC. MMSI numbers issued by other authorized entities are valid only for ship stations that do not have FCC-issued licenses. Since the ULS will not accept the MMSI that was issued by another entity, you should not enter anything on FCC Form 605, Schedule B. Leave the field blank and the FCC will issue you a new MMSI number.
David Pendleton posted 03-21-2012 02:33 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Pendleton  Send Email to David Pendleton     
I completed the application last night, and while I did try to enter my MMSI, I didn't read the fine print after it told me I didn't need to.

Looks like I am getting a new number, then.

6992WHALER posted 03-21-2012 02:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for 6992WHALER  Send Email to 6992WHALER     
Kevin I know your pain. The whole "send the unit back" thing is helping me make the decision to install the second radio.

If I do, I will end up with 2 MMSI numbers on the same boat. One from the FCC and one from Boat US.

Hoosier posted 03-21-2012 06:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
\0x1BJust to close the loop on my "I read somewhere" that you can get a station license for a handheld. I talked to a very nice lady at the FCC and she agreed, get the station license for the handheld and then move it from boat to boat as needed for international compliance.

Also, if you are going to have both a fixed mount and handheld radio on a boat you can, and should, have the same MMSI number in both. I have two boats that are used in boundary waters but one that is used internationally. That one will have the FCC MMSI numbers and the domestic boat will have the domestic MMSI numbers, and radios.

6992WHALER posted 08-14-2013 03:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for 6992WHALER  Send Email to 6992WHALER     
I did all the online filing today, for a new Restricted Operators Permit and a Ship Station License.

I installed a Standard Horizon GX1700 last summer as a stand alone DSC system. So it will get the new FCC MMSI number.

I intend to keep two MMSI numbers on the same boat. I made this decision for two reasons.
1 I do not want to send my already programed radio back to the manufacturer for reprogramming.
2 I do not want both radios to respond (change to a working channel from 16) for every DSC call.

I plan to use my non FCC issued MMSI number as my primary DSC communication for pleasure radio. And my FCC issued MMSI radio as my emergency DSC radio.

Hoosier posted 08-18-2013 11:53 AM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
When I installed a Standard Horizon DSC Eclipse radio in my Outrage I call SH tech support and asked what I had to do if I changed my MMSI number. They said try to enter it, sometimes it works...
jimh posted 08-18-2013 01:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Modern VHF Marine Band radios that are in compliance with the Class-D DSC recommendations will not allow the MMSI to be changed by the user once an MMSI has been entered. Older radios may allow a change in MMSI.

For details about this, see

Recommendation ITU-R M.493-13
Digital selective-calling system for use in the maritime mobile service

which is available for download from

http://www.itu.int/dms_pubrec/itu-r/rec/m/R-REC-M. 493-13-200910-I!!PDF-E.pdf

and specifically, see Section 12.4, MMSI, wherein one finds the following recommendations:

quote:
DSC equipment should not transmit any DSC call until own ship's MMSI allocated to the ship by the relevant administration has been configured and stored in the DSC equipment. Once stored, it should not be possible for the user to change the MMSI without advice from the manufacturer.
Hoosier posted 08-19-2013 09:32 AM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
"Once stored, it should not be possible for the user to change the MMSI without advice from the manufacturer."

Note it says "should", not "shall", that's an important distiction in regulations. Also the "without advice from..." clause really says the end user can do it. I was in compliance, I asked SH how to do it.

6992WHALER posted 08-20-2013 09:53 PM ET (US)     Profile for 6992WHALER  Send Email to 6992WHALER     
My 2006 Standard Horizon Eclipse DSC GX1000S will allow the owner to Change the MMSI number once. If you need to change it a second time you will need to send the unit back to the factory.

My newer Standard Horizon Radios GX851, GX1700 and GX2100 will not let the owner change the MMSI number once it is entered in the unit.

jimh posted 08-20-2013 11:58 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
If you read the recommendation of the ITU, you will find that the word shall appears only five times, and then only in regard to technical details of some binary number representations. The word should appears over 100 times. I believe most of the practices recommended are recommended by saying such and such a practice should be done.
jimh posted 08-21-2013 12:51 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The ITU is not a regulatory body. The FCC is a regulatory body. If the FCC adopts the recommendations of the ITU, then those recommendations become the regulations. If you searched the proceedings of the FCC, I suspect there is probably some announcement that the FCC has adopted all the regulations of the ITU with regard to DSC radio Class-D certifications.

By the way, the FCC can change some of the requirements from the ITU recommendation. It did that with AIS Class B transponders. The FCC requires that a AIS Class-B transponder be configured by the manufacturer or his agent and cannot be configured by the user. This annoying regulation was not in the ITU recommendations, as far as I can tell.

Hal Watkins posted 08-21-2013 10:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hal Watkins  Send Email to Hal Watkins     
Back in 1969 when I earned my private pilot license, pilots were required to have the Restricted Radio Operators License. It crumbled, over the years, and so has the requirement. I guess Canada will just have to trust me on this one a someone mentioned earlier, the FCC has no records that old. As a side note, my Dad's pilot license was signed by one of the Wright Brothers.
Hal Watkins posted 08-22-2013 10:16 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hal Watkins  Send Email to Hal Watkins     
Back in 1969 when I earned my private pilot license, pilots were required to have the Restricted Radio Operators License. It crumbled, over the years, and so has the requirement. I guess Canada will just have to trust me on this one a someone mentioned earlier, the FCC has no records that old. As a side note, my Dad's pilot license was signed by one of the Wright Brothers.
jimh posted 12-19-2014 09:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Effective September 2014, the FCC has increased the fee for a ship station license to $215 from $160. If you applied for one prior to September 2014, pat yourself on the back: you saved $55. I guess we have to pay for all this government some way or another.

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