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FCC online nightmare

Mar 20, 2004
1,662
Hunter 356 and 216 Portland, ME
not quite the case in the US - you can get an MMSI from Boat US and others for free that is registered with the US CG only; you need one from the FCC to be registered abroad... you lose the data on your vessel if you send a mayday abroad with a US only MMSI - but wouldn't they still act on the mayday call and gps location?
 
Dec 22, 2015
1
Pacific Seacraft Crealock 34 Savannah, GA
I've not sailed into Canada, but have into other foreign ports. I obtained my FCC Operator's License way back when...way back...when I had my first boat. Since then, I've kept up the renewal and have had no issues.
 
Nov 8, 2014
151
MacGregor 26S Chateauguay
Ok guys, these are solutions in search of a problem!!
All that is required in Canada is a the ROC(M) or equivalent US (I am sure the USCG can enlighten you on this if not contact the Canadian Coast Guard) The ROC's only purpose is to make sure that you know the basics of voice procedures and a few other little things like DSC and the rules of the radio road etc... This is not some communist plot on the part of Canadian authorities, the US has similar regulations even if not enforced.
The US FCC has absolutely nothing to do with Canadian VHF marine and air communications!!. The Canadian governing body is Industry and Commerce Canada and the issuing authority for the Canadian Restricted Operator Certificate (M) certificate is the Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons ( http://www.cps-ecp.ca/ ) who manages the courses and administers the tests. You don't need to take the course, just the test. If you are an American citizen you can get a similar certificate from a US authority or school, and I am sure the Canadian Coast Guard will honour it just like hour driver's permit. The fact is that everyday Canadian and US boats cross the border without any trouble whatsoever and nobody's boat ever got seized unless it was carrying drugs or illegal firearms. Remember that respect of laws goes both ways, If I am expected to respect your laws, right or wrong as the case may be, I would expect you to respect ours. Having said that come and enjoy yourselves in Canada, you are always welcome just as I am always welcomed whenever I cross the border.
Is this some kind of bureaucratic joke? I finally broke down and bought a VHF radio. Next trick is to get a license since I will be heading for Canada. Yes I know the U.S. doesn't require a marine radio license for pleasure craft but Canada does require one for boats entering their waters who will be using it there. So going to FCC.gov yields a plethora of $hit that goes round and round trying to file electronically all the myriad forms. Best part is there doesn't seem to be any type of dollar value for the fee required. I am about ready to send the thing back to the store as I go sailing to escape the idiocy of the world and not contribute to or participate in it.
 
Jan 20, 2016
2
Catalina Morgan 44 ST Croix USVI
We're ex pat Canadians in permanent voluntary exile in the US. We have sailed in and outta Canada twice and just ignored the radio issue, no problems. Let sleeping dogs lie or you'll just waste time, money and get unnecessarily frustrated. " It is better to ask forgiveness than seek permission"
 
Apr 23, 2012
20
C&C 29 MKI Niagara on the Lake Sailing Club
I sail out of a Canadian port and it seems to me the Canadians removed the requirement for a station license some time ago. Of course if you want your MMSI to show up on their SAR console you should be with an FCC license. I obtained a Class A operator license when I served in Army aviation years ago and if there was a fee they must have paid it. The course for the Canadian operators license is provided by their Power Squadron and should be required of all sailors, both countries. I have their license and it far surpasses anything we have put out.....
Lots of outdated information on this thread.
 
Nov 6, 2015
12
Yamaha 30 Cowichan Bay, Bc
I was born in Canada, taken to the States as a toddler, grew up, retired in 2008, came back to my home country. I'm a Vietnam infantry vet, 1971. We ARE a different country. This is not Little America. Love having others visit. Love our fellow boaters. Love having our own laws, but some of the laws are as silly as those in the USA! :) :)
 
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Jan 20, 2016
2
Catalina Morgan 44 ST Croix USVI
Born in Canada also. Chased a skirt to BGSU in Ohio in 1970, wound up flying Air America 71-73 Udorn, Thailand and Vientiene, Laos- 3 tours, C-45, U-6A and C-17B. Love Canada in summer, too damn cold in winter.
I was born in Canada, taken to the States as a toddler, grew up, retired in 2008, came back to my home country. I'm a Vietnam infantry vet, 1971. We ARE a different country. This is not Little America. Love having others visit. Love our fellow boaters. Love having our own laws, but some of the laws are as silly as those in the USA! :) :)
 
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Aug 20, 2010
1,399
Oday 27 Oak Orchard
The big problem was deciphering the U.S. FCC requirements. Canada was easy to figure out. Some silliness seems endemic to our mutual sailing grounds. Wonder if being frozen half the year is affecting us. Of course the beer is better in Canada so a trip there is worth figuring out the U.S. requirements.
 
Jan 11, 2014
7,822
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
The issue with licenses, ship's station licenses and radio operator's licenses, is a matter of international treaties. If you can accept the premise that every country has the right to regulate it's airwaves as it sees fit for itself, then when entering a foreign country, even our neighbors to the north and south, we need to be in compliance with their laws and regulations. Whether you agree with the particular regulation or not, the regulation to have both a ship's station license and a restricted radio operators license is the regulation you have to follow.

Whether the authorities choose to enforce a particular regulation is another matter. Last week, I went through a bunch of speed traps at 10-15 mph over the limit. The state police chose not to strictly enforce the rules.

Why get a ship's license and operator's license? Two big reasons

1. In the event you run into a cranky official while crossing the border, there is one less thing for the uniform to be cranky about.

2. The free MMSI number that is provided to recreational boaters in the US is not valid outside of US waters. If you are out of range of the USCG Radios, then panic button on the VHF is not nearly as valuable as vessel information will not be available.

As for the cost, the upfront costs seem high, but if you think about it, the operators license is for your lifetime and the station license is for 10 years. That's the equivalent of one medium coffee a month at Dunkin' Donuts or one 12 pack of craft beer a year. A very small price to pay to be in compliance with the regulations and to avoid giving a uniform a reason to hassle you.
 

Robin3

.
Dec 29, 2014
14
beneteau oceanis36cc Daytona Beach
Not sure if this will help but I'm a Brit living in the USA, married to an American. Our boat is US documented in my wife's name as she is the american citizen and I am not. We wanted an international call sign and MMSI number and to get the full international one you have to apply via the USCG/FCC which we did online, no problems and free IIRC but it was 2 years ago and memory fails. That was for the ship's licence and you are supposed to have an operator's licence too which both of us do, issued in the UK from our life there, but nobody asked to see it or for a number. IN the UK the operator licence requires an exam, often done after a one or two day course. I did mine 40 years ago and took a MF/HF cert at same time, my wife did the simpler VHF only version some 30 years ago. JUdging by the CB come flyboy techniques we hear not many US radio users ever took a course or exam, y'all get that good buddy, over and out.:biggrin:
 
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Oct 1, 2008
148
Bavaria 36 Cruiser Nanaimo, BC
Hi all,
I know of a Canadian who was boarded by the USCG in US waters and had all of his VHF radios permanently confiscated for not having a station license. Must have come across that cranky official that's been talked about. This form of enforcement didn't make sense to me, as the radio is supposed to be a type of "safety equipment" and removing it lessens one's safety. I thought a fine would have been more appropriate ( or how about just a written warning). Just mentioning this to let you know what is possible.
Regards,
 
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Jun 21, 2015
4
Benneteau 49 kemah
Hi Guys:
I contacted ARRL (American radio relay league). They should be able to give the definitive answer. I will post it when I get a response.
KG5HOG
 
Jun 21, 2015
4
Benneteau 49 kemah
There is a very liberal reciprocal arrangement between the US and Canada. You will simply ID as VEx/KG6HOG with VEx being the prefix for the Province / Territory from which you are operating, such as VE2 for Quebec. You do not need any other permits.
Remember that though you are on a US vessel, since you are in Canadian territorial waters Canada’s frequency allocations dictate what frequencies from which you can operate.

This is the response I got from ARRL. I am waiting for the clarification about people that do not hold an armature license.
 
Sep 17, 2012
82
Morgan 383 Fairhaven, NY
Been going to Canada (1000 Is, Kingston, Toronto) every summer for the last 15 years on Lake Ontario. Never heard anything about a radio license. Other then way back when you needed on for US/FCC. Never been asked by Canada Customs for anything other than boat & peronal info and how much booze is on board. That's it. My experience is that when you land in a Canandian port of entry, you go right to the phone and call CAN Customs. You can't go to Main Duck first for example(no phone) then on to Kingston and call in.

Prior to a 3 boat flotilla sail to Toronto we researched, internet & guide books. No mention of operaor license. And no problem with Can. Customs. Great town and a good sail from Oak Orchard if the wnds are not NW, btw.

Now the US Customs WILL break your balls if you don't have their " $30 tribute deal" on your boat. But that's for 30 footers and up. So you're good there. I have had much more trouble returning to the US than getting into Canada. Canadian Customs always seem to be welcoming, polite & firendly but business like. Treat them with respect, well I've never had any issue. I love Canada!


FCC/VHF
How can US Feds require a license to operate in Canada when they don't require a VHF license in US? I've ever been asked by Canadian Customs? Makes no sense. I've worked for the US Gov't my whole life :TAXES. Not giving them more than they deserve.
Dave
 
Jan 11, 2014
7,822
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
From the FCC website:

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

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.
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That seems pretty clear to me. If you travel internationally, you must have an license and an operator's permit.

The rule for Amateur radio are different and your Ham license does not cover the VHF.
 
Jan 11, 2014
7,822
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
The US Feds don't require you to have a license to operate a radio internationally, the treaties the US has with other countries require you to have a license. The FCC implements the treaty. US citizens get US licenses, Canadians get Canadian licenses. Get busted without a license in Canada, you're subject to Canadian laws.

The requirement has been around for a long time. And on Lake Ontario I've never heard of anyone having a problem with a station license. Not having a license is not a problem until some one makes it a problem.

With that said, for over 30 years I've sailed to Canada without a ship's station license and never had a problem. I have one now because I wanted an international MMSI as I plan to sail in regions that the USCG does not monitor. The free US MMSI doesn't work outside of the country.

In the good old days we used to go to Main Duck without checking in all the time. It was a stop on the way to Kingston. It was quite secluded and seldom visited. Then they published the anchorage in Ports and it went down hill.
 
Oct 28, 2013
678
Hunter 20 Lake Monroe
I went ahead and got my FCC Restricted Operators license this morning after reading this. I had to get the FRN number before I could get the FCC license but neither was that big of a deal. Took maybe 10 mins total and 65 bucks. With this being our first year to go the north channel I figure there will be enough things go wrong that I did not want to add that to my list of problems. As soon as it gets here I will have it. Now I can move onto bigger issues, like where is my darn furler I ordered 2 weeks ago.

Sam
 
Oct 27, 2012
35
Hunter / Pearson H19 & 1987 Pearson 31-2 Tarpon Springs
If you don't plan on making regular crossings into and out of Canadian waters, then just put the port (marina) phone number into your cell phone, pull the fuse on the VHF, and hang an "Inoperable" sign on it. You are now legal! Really...
 
Nov 8, 2014
151
MacGregor 26S Chateauguay
The issue with licenses, ship's station licenses and radio operator's licenses, is a matter of international treaties. If you can accept the premise that every country has the right to regulate it's airwaves as it sees fit for itself, then when entering a foreign country, even our neighbors to the north and south, we need to be in compliance with their laws and regulations. Whether you agree with the particular regulation or not, the regulation to have both a ship's station license and a restricted radio operators license is the regulation you have to follow.

Whether the authorities choose to enforce a particular regulation is another matter. Last week, I went through a bunch of speed traps at 10-15 mph over the limit. The state police chose not to strictly enforce the rules.

Why get a ship's license and operator's license? Two big reasons

1. In the event you run into a cranky official while crossing the border, there is one less thing for the uniform to be cranky about.

2. The free MMSI number that is provided to recreational boaters in the US is not valid outside of US waters. If you are out of range of the USCG Radios, then panic button on the VHF is not nearly as valuable as vessel information will not be available.

As for the cost, the upfront costs seem high, but if you think about it, the operators license is for your lifetime and the station license is for 10 years. That's the equivalent of one medium coffee a month at Dunkin' Donuts or one 12 pack of craft beer a year. A very small price to pay to be in compliance with the regulations and to avoid giving a uniform a reason to hassle you.
Actually the MMSI numbers work across the borders,also the number is attached to the radio and not to the operator and a certificate is not required.
 
Jan 11, 2014
7,822
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
From BoatUS: https://www.boatus.com/mmsi/faq.asp#PrivacyandRadioFAQs

What is the difference between obtaining an MMSI from the FCC and obtaining a number from BoatUS?
A: BoatUS MMSI numbers are coded for recreational vessels cruising in U.S. waters only not otherwise required to be licensed; the registrations are downloaded into the U.S. Coast Guard Search & Rescue Database (MISLE) only. FCC-assigned MMSI numbers are coded for International Waters and go into the International Search & Rescue Database (ITU). In order to be accepted into the ITU database, any FCC assigned MMSI must end in zero. This is why the BoatUS MMSI number cannot be re-used when later applying for an FCC License for international cruising.

It is correct that the number stays with the radio and that the information associated with the MMSI number can be changed if ownership of the radio changes.

Again from BoatUS:

Q: Is the MMSI unique to the boat owner or does it stay with the boat and radio?
A: The MMSI stays with the radio which it is programmed into.
  • If you sell the boat but keep the radio, you can update with the new boat information in the Edit Registration Screen.
  • If you sell the boat with the radio, you must cancel your MMSI registration to avoid having the distress linked to you and your personal information should the new owner fail to reprogram the radio or request that the MMSI be transferred over to them.
  • If you kept the boat but have traded or replaced the radio which was programmed, you must cancel your MMSI registration for the same reason stated above.
  • If you obtained a second radio to go on board the same boat, you may program the same MMSI number into that radio.
Finally,

Q: I am a recreational boater in the United States but regularly go into Canadian waters. Can I still use the BoatUS MMSI?
A: While Canada is considered “international waters” which calls for an FCC Ship Station License, it is our understanding that Canada is not enforcing US regulations. Canada has also de-licensed recreational boaters. That does not mean they can not or will not require it if given reason to do so. If you proceed to operate in the shared waters without license you do so at your own risk. 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.