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Maritime radio licensing and call signs

Maritime radio users are required to be licensed and hold a call sign for their vessel, (except in an emergency or distress situation).
There are quite a few different levels of radio licences issued for marine use on ships.  The highest grade license is GMDSS, which covers a wide variety of types of communication equipment.  Higher grade licenses are most commonly required for radio operators on commercial ships.

All users of marine VHF are required to hold a minimum of a marine VHF operator’s qualification and be issued with a radio call sign.

The Coastguard Boating Education Service is responsible for issuing and updating radio call signs for commercial and recreational boaties. They also provide tutorials and learning resources for people who want to study for the marine VHF radio operator’s qualification.

Radio call sign application form [Coastguard Boating Education Service]
Marine VHF radio operator’s qualification [Coastguard Boating Education Service]

Marine radio use outside of New Zealand’s coastal waters

Anyone operating a marine radio outside of New Zealand’s coastal waters (12 mile limit), needs to have a radio operator license.  This includes for a VHF marine radio (short range).

Information about licensing for vessels operating outside New Zealand’s coastal waters is available from Radio Spectrum Management. They manage New Zealand’s radio frequency spectrum and are part of the Ministry of Economic Development.

Maritime and ship licences [Radio Spectrum Management]
Radio operator certificates and call signs [Radio Spectrum Management]

Related links

Using the maritime radio service – a guide for radio operators