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Old 07-04-2007, 08:06 PM   #1
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Hi there,

We are thinking of sailing over to the Bahamas, from South Florida, (yes, keeping an eye on the Hurricanes before moving off). I understand that I need an FCC / Government international licence to operate my VHF outside the USA. I have been to the government web site and found the form, apparently - FCC 605 - but I am now so very confused - can anyone explain, in layman's terms what form, what cost and what is needed?

Thank you for your time

Mike H, Mtunzini, Endeavour 32
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Old 07-04-2007, 09:15 PM   #2
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Mike,

Good Topic. Good Question. I am in study for my amateur radio license "HAM", and a member of the Amateur Radio Relay League {ARRL}. The truth is I parked my radio studies for the summer. I think I know the answer, but considering my status, I difer your question to another member, with more knowledge; most certain of their response. If that fails, I can find an answer on the ARRL web site for you.

Jeff
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Old 07-04-2007, 10:04 PM   #3
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Hi Mike,

I haven't got a clue what the USA requirements of radio licensing are, but I can't imagine how US authorities can license you to operate your radio outside of their area of jurisdiction. The rules in Oz are that you must have a license issued to you by your home state (nation). This proves that somewhere on earth, you have read and understood radio protocol sufficiently well to pass a legitimate test.

That probably doesn't help you at all.....unless you sail a little bit past the Bahamas.... to New Zealand .

Welcome to the forums anyway and let us know how the trip goes.

David.
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Old 07-04-2007, 10:45 PM   #4
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I presently have my Tech license and am studying for my General Class. I will quote from the book as I study....

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) is the organization responsible for international regulation of the radio spectrum.The ITU regulations state that communications between amateurs in foreign countries must be limited to technical topics or "remarks of a personal nature of relative unimportance" - you can talk about your radio, what you had for dinner, your location if boating, but nothing regarding politics.

Governments of the various countries of the world set the frequency limits of the frequency bands for their amateurs within the recommendations of the ITU Radio Regulations. This includes VHF. A US licensed radio operator must obey the frequency limits for the ITU region in which they are operating. Your operation is under FCC regulation if you are operating onboard a US registered vessel in international waters. In such cases, you must follow the frequency privileges authorized for use in the ITU region in which you are located. There are 3 regions, US is in region 2, Pacific Island countries are in Region 3, Europe, Africa and Russia are in Region 1.

Well, that probably didn't really answer your question and having paged through the FCC 605 I can see how it would leave one with lots of questions. If you're going to be doing much international cruising with use of radio, I would recommend getting your Technician Class amateur radio license (as a minimum) which will give you access to the marine VHF in all regions...as far as I understand.

Unless someone comes along with a better answer, give this number a try:

FCC Technical Support Hotline: 877-480-3201 (option 2) or 202-414-1250 or via e-mail at ulscomm@fcc.gov. Contact the FCC Technical Support Hotline about computer access to ULS, your FRN, uploading files or attachments. The hotline is available Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 6 PM EST (except Federal holidays). All calls are recorded.
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Old 07-05-2007, 01:56 AM   #5
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Mike,

I've never, ever, anywhere been asked if i had a FCC VHF license. Done the area you're talking about, the lee-windwards and onward. Forgot it even existed until I noticed your post!

Years ago I was wondering the same thing, in Florida ready to hit the Bahamas....totally new to it all, and nearly all the people I spoke with that were real cruisers laughed it off. 'Legal'? Got me....but all the authorities elsewhere care about is you clearing in/out, having the proper visas if needed, paying whatever fees and not doing something either stupid or that conflicts with their local interests. In total I've cleared into around 33 countries (many of them many times) and it's never come up....never even heard of any other yachties having to mess with it. Coming back into Miami/Lauderdale several times it never came up.

A couple people that did have it said it was easy enough to get and for whatever reason they seemed content knowing they had this slip of paper. So if it gives you peace of mind go for it.

Sorry I can't help you in getting it, but I can tell you from actual experience is seems pointless to have it. Not to offend those that 'go by the rules', but if you worry about every little thing others say you MUST have it'd take forever to leave or be in compliance or be paper-bullet-proof....and more often then not, for not!

Have a great trip otherwise! The Bahamas is still my second favorite spot. Lucky you!

best regards - J
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Old 07-05-2007, 04:56 AM   #6
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Mike, we won't be on our boat for another day or two, and then I might again not have internet access, so I'll try to answer here.

The Bahamas are so laid-back that no, you probably will not be asked for proof of a VHF license, but.... when you check in, if they ask for a call sign for your radio, THAT is your license that you do not have. They will know if you are giving them a HAM call sign rather than the VHF call sign that you need. If you do not have one, and get into trouble, THEN you will know that you had to have one, but most likely not for the reason you think. Your insurance company might say "well, you did not have what you were supposed to have, and so you must share in the payment of your loss" when a claim is made. Is that far-fetched? Yes. Could it happen? Also Yes. Can they verify that the call sign you gave them is correct? Absolutely yes. I just put in our call sign, and there we were! Ta-dah!

I suggest you go back to the FCC site, register to get your FRN, fill out the form and get your license. it will cost, I believe, about USD 75.00 (not on a US computer, no dollar sign), and is good for 10 or so years. Then you're good to go, no matter where.
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Old 07-05-2007, 05:14 AM   #7
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Cruiser Log does advise, nor condone, breaking any laws, of any country.

Let me attempt to find an answer for you, in layman’s terms. I need some time to find the correct references.

Trim50 offered a good point of contact. Meanwhile, somebody may provide a better answer, with references.

Jeff
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Old 07-05-2007, 07:00 AM   #8
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Mike,

I am presuming that you are talking about a MARINE VHF license!! I, too, am not in the US, but the ITU regulations apply here. Firstly, you need a Ships Station Licence which will then be your boats call sign. That licence stays with the vessel and is basically what you need when clearing into foreign countries.

Then you have a Marine Radio Operators Licence which means you are licences to operate any marine radio.

I have been asked on many occasions for my ships radio licence (call sign), when clearing into foreign countries but only once in the last 15 years for my operators licence - and this was by the USCG!

Get the Ships Station Licence with its associated call sign. One day you may want to use Sailmail for email whilst out at sea. You will need your licence!

HAM radio (amateur radio) is a totally different story.

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Old 07-05-2007, 08:24 AM   #9
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Quote:
Firstly, you need a Ships Station Licence which will then be your boats call sign. That licence stays with the vessel and is basically what you need when clearing into foreign countries.
John is correct on this issue. "Operator's" licence is something completely different and anyone can sit for this exam.
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Old 07-05-2007, 04:14 PM   #10
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OK, now I am confused.

It is my understanding that my Technician Class license and call sign will enable me to use all the marine vhf bands without having to have a separate FCC issued VHF license and call sign. Is this or is it not correct?
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Old 07-05-2007, 05:55 PM   #11
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I just got off the phone with some HAM radio experts and even they are confused...or seem to be. They said that the amateur radio call sign is not valid on marine frequencies, however it is not generally required to have a separate VHF call sign if you have an amateur radio call sign.

The "not generally required" part bothers me.
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Old 07-05-2007, 07:15 PM   #12
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In post #2 I may have swayed the topic "Off Topic", with reference to amateur / Ham radio license. Let us stay on topic, and answer his question.

Mike H, Mtunzini, Endeavour 32, wants to operate a VHF, Marine Band as I understand upon reviewing post #1. I think JohnT and Lighthouse provided the answers in posts # 8 and 9 respectively.

Mike H needs and wants, as I interrupt this; as JohnT stated

Ships Station License which will then be your boats call sign

Maybe we should start over, clarify the question;

Which Radio? Which Band? Marine Band – VHF – MHz Range.

Which License?

• US Origin / US Licensed

• Radio Operated (broadcasting) in International Waters

• Vessel Registered Call Sign / Radio License for Vessel

• Radio – Teletype Operator License / Radio License for Person

At the same time, we have another question and issue happening here. Trim50 brings up another point, in Post # 11; “Not generally required”. ……unless the radio cops / port authorities / ANY authorities are having a slow day, and want to harass the be-jebbers out of you, and dig in your wallet.

We need to answer the Mike H’s question.

We need to understand the question, before answering it.

The side-bar questions are most worthy; and ask for answers as well.

Let’s not confuse the questions.
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Old 07-05-2007, 07:46 PM   #13
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Guys and Dolls,

Lets get something clear – Amateur radio and Marine radio are two totally different kettle of fish. Having an amateur radio operators certificate gives you no permission to use a marine radio – although the US FCC does no longer require an operators licence for US vessels whilst in US waters. Likewise, being the holder of a marine radio operators certificate gives you no permission to operate an amateur radio or in the amateur radio spectrum. However, in any emergency you can call on any frequency you want!

Ham radio (amateur radio) plays a huge part for licensed hams whilst out at sea and is a far better means of communication than marine radio. There is always somebody listening and ready to offer help, make free phone calls for you or, in certain regions, even patch you through on a land-line. You can even setup your radio and laptop via a special modem and you have free email, anywhere in the world you may be, via the HF or VHF ham radio networks. This same system, known as Winlink, offers you free plotting of your position so that family and friends can track you, free weather updates worldwide and a host of other benefits, too numerous to mention here. Next time you are in a port and find a licensed ham next to you, chat with him or her and let that person explain the benefits that amateur radio can play on board. Unfortunately, a marine radio operators certificate offers you none of the above – just the ability to talk to a port controller or on an organised net when in port. Even calling for help on a marine channel does not mean anybody will hear your call.

A ships station licence is just a licence for having a radio on board your vessel and assigns your vessel a call sign. It is an internationally agreed legal requirement which the US does not enforce for US registered vessels in their local waters – in foreign waters you should have it.

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Old 07-05-2007, 07:54 PM   #14
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Thanks for the clarification John.
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