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Thread: VHF MMSI Numbers

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2013

    Default VHF MMSI Numbers

    VHF Station Licenses include MMSI numbers.

    Apply for a Station License (I don't remember paying a fee for this as I have several other FCC licenses already) and there you have it.

    Lucie Mewes

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2010


    I have a Ships Station License. FYI, my last renewal cost money...that could be faulty memory, but no matter.
    Question is: Is the call sign issued with my SSL, WRG8015, actually an MMSI? If it is, I have been misinformed by government data. Maybe now all I have to learn is HOW TO INFLICT IT ON MY VHF(s)?

    Do you know if the $850 is so hich because of a transponder requirement? Or maybe due to raised airline rates for
    transporting the RC to Hanalei...???? Fair Winds to you both Ken

  3. #3
    pogen's Avatar
    pogen is offline Sailing canoe "Kūʻaupaʻa"
    Join Date
    Nov 2008


    No your MMSI is a 9 decimal digit number that is programmed into each device. In the US, you should use the same number for all equipment on board -- DSC radios, AIS transponders, even handhelds.

    Generally, the MMSI is factory programmed, or if set by the user cannot be changed without returning the unit to the factory.

    BOAT-US and some others will register your MMSI for US waters for free; if you want to go outside the US you need a different number, or get a ship station license and go through some more bother.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Santa Rosa


    VHF radios only used in the United States do not need to be registered. If you plan to visit Canada or Mexico or beyond, you'll need an FCC license.

    HF radios (SSB) must be licensed by the FCC no matter where you sail; this is the "ship station license." You'll also need a Restricted Operator License; this is for you.

    A VHF DSC radio, handheld or "base, has to be registered and issued an MMSI 9-digit number. If you plan to use the DSC radio only in US waters you can register it for free through Boat US or Sea Tow. If you plan to use the DSC radio in Mexico, Canada, or beyond, you must register in with the FCC.

    Once you have programmed the 9-digit MMSI number into the radio, the number can only be changed by the manufacturer. They'll remove the number so you can put a new one in. I think they charge for this, but I don't know anyone who's done it. That's why you have to enter the number twice during the programming process - to get it correct.

    FCC licenses have a fee. If you are registering a HF (SSB) or other electronic device with the FCC, you should go ahead and tick off all the boxes on the form, even if you don't currently have radar, AIS, or the other listed devices. That way you can add without additional fees. The Station License is valid for 10 years. The Restricted Operator License is a lifetime deal.

    In order to work with the FCC you'll need an FCC Registration Number (FRN). This 10-digit number is used to communicate with the FCC. This IS NOT an MMSI number! ! ! ! It's your personal identification and requires a password.

    I know this sounds complicated and it is. If you don't have a SSB and if you just plan to sail in US waters, then BOAT US/SEA TOW is the way to go to register your DSC radio. Much simpler and free. If you plan to sail outside US waters, you'll need to go the FCC route.

    My Amateur Radio License is a much simpler deal, but it doesn't allow me to use a marine SSB.


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