Find out how to radio a distress call if you are in imminent danger and need immediate help.
In this handbook:
- learn the correct procedures for communicating
- find information about coverage and services
- find useful contacts and a glossary
- two stickers for quick reference
Except in the case of an emergency or distress situation, maritime radio users must:
1: Be licensed
All users of marine VHF are required to hold a minimum of a marine VHF operator’s qualification.
2: Hold a call sign for their vessel
The Coastguard Boating Education Service issues and updates radio call signs for commercial and recreational boaties.
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.
Call sign application form
Approved radio equipment
Approved maritime products for New Zealand vessels.
Using the radio service
Learn about radio use in and around New Zealand 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.
For further information please contact our Wellington office.
New Zealand (toll free):
0508 225 522
Calling from outside New Zealand:
+64 4 473 0111
Tell us what you need help with and remember to include your contact details (email address and phone numbers).
Radio distress calling
This sticker outlines the radio procedure for distress calls.
[PDF: 30kB, 1 page]