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Do you need an FCC for Canada?

Old 04-14-2016, 08:37 AM
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Default Do you need an FCC for Canada?

I've done some research and am now more confused than before.

Here's what I think I know:

American boaters staying in America, not needed. Going to Canada, needed.

Canadian boaters staying in Canada, not needed. Going to America, needed.

Technically, Americans even need it to TALK to Canadians on the radio.

Also, when signing up for an MMSI, is there a different website to get one if I'm getting (if I need) an FCC?

Thanks,

Rob
Old 04-14-2016, 09:02 AM
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It's weird....I live on the Canadian border and we travel up north all the time. If you are going to register your radio mmsi # for use in Canada you need to follow the links from the boat us registration site which make it a LOT harder to register. Most guys don't do it.

For just talking ? I don't know, but no one seems to pay much attention to any of it around here. Despite our governments best efforts to divide us up along geographical lines I talk on my radio when in Canadian waters and have never had an issue. We generally travel up to Victoria and ned to communicate with the Port and with Customs regarding mooring and check in etc.
Old 04-14-2016, 09:13 AM
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Long and the short it looks like the answer is yes..




http://wireless.fcc.gov/services/ind...=ship_stations

http://wireless.fcc.gov/services/ind...tion%20License
Old 04-14-2016, 09:22 AM
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Thanks for the info edyer. Seems like you go to Canada quite a bit without a license. That's all I'm looking for, that you technically need one, but not enforced and no one gets one.

Here's what I was worried about, the last sentence....

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.

I'm in Seattle by the way and most likely traveling to the same ports as you.
Old 04-14-2016, 09:36 AM
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Well, I wouldn't use me as an example of what to do....... I'm always getting into trouble with someone for something I didn't know about, Usually my wife but that's another topic.
Old 04-14-2016, 10:07 AM
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I would bet the answer is YES. I am a pilot and for us to operate anywhere outside the US we have to have a radio operator's license. Not sure what it requires to get for a boat but for a plane it was basically pay a fee and register, it doesn't expire or anything just is required. I will say that flying into Canada is the only place I have ever been asked for it (I have been to just about every island on the SE side of the US) besides employers who want to make sure you have it. I would bet the VHF version is very similar and is pretty easy to get.
The other thought is it is easier to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission in many cases. IF you need it and was an emergency I would use it no matter what.
Old 04-14-2016, 05:40 PM
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I don't get it with boatus MMSI.
In Aus the MMSI is allocated by our safety authority.
VHF Radio operators licences are also required but not station licenses.
I think that your FCC provides MMSI numbers which conform with international GMDSS SOLAS requirements etc
I don't know if the last number of MMSIs issued by boatus will be considered valid on GMDSS equipped vessels?
As it stands now, (due to watchkeeping on Channel 16 abandoned some 15 years ago in favour of DSC), when a distress transmission is received alarms go off on the bridge and the vessel is obliged to render assistance under maritime law. Without a valid GMDSS Formatted MMSI they may only receive the distress call with position and any DSC data programmed at the time advising nature of distress. They may be unable to call you.
The other issues are whether or not a boatus issued MMSI programmed into your EPIRB as a radio call sign instead of serialised is recognised by the satelites?
Finally, as most DSC VHF radios only allow one or 2 attempts at programming the MMSI numbers, to switch from a boatus to FCC MMSI may not be permitted anyway.
Obviousely the equipment will perform as intended but as far as transmitting the MMSI which is the purpose of it I'm not sure. We only have one authority who issues MMSI in Australia
Old 04-14-2016, 09:50 PM
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I believe even when operating in US waters, you are prohibited from communicating with a foreign-flagged vessel, without both a VHF operator's licence and VHF station license. There is no exam, just fees. And, DSC MMSI is voluntary, unless you fall into a mandated vessel or use class.

I have never heard of a citation...if a foreign registered container ship is bearing down on you, and you have no propulsion, I would certainly pick up the mike, even without necessary papers, though it might be futile...they take miles to stop and miles to change course significantly. And vessels from certain countries may just consider your recreational boat a "speed bump" and not even report it.

FCC permits unlicensed use of any radio service in exigent circumstances is life is an issue.
Old 04-14-2016, 09:59 PM
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Basically is that a majority of small recreational boats which go from the US into Canadian waters do not have a FCC License Ships License or FCC MMSI number. A few may have a Boat US MMSI number. The DSC on a VHF radio will not work without a MMSI number programed in. Theoretically the US CG has the database for the Boat US MMSI numbers, and the Canadian CG does not. I have been told that the Canadian CG does access the Boat US, in co-ordination with the USCG Boat US MMSI numbers if a distress call is received. To be safe, get the Ship's license, and FCC MMSI number.

If you have AIS and go international/out of US waters you definitely need the FCC license. (Although I know of some who have, without the license)

Yes you have to have the restricted Radiotelephone Operator's Permit in the US, as well as in Canada. . Legally you should have the FCC license for your boat when you go into Canadian waters (British Columbia in this case). You will also find that the vast majority of small recreational boats who go from Puget Sound area into the Gulf Islands or the Inland passage do not have the Ship's Radio Station license. I spent five summers going up and down the Inland Passage, and had the FCC Ship's Radio license on my Cal 46--I was also going into other international waters, as well as having SSB and other FCC licensed gear aboard. The last few years, I have used a trailerable trawler--I belong to a group of about 1,000 members of the same type small boat owners, and the vast majority go into Canada, without a Ship's Radio License. I have never heard of anyone being stopped and being asked about their license, including when stopped by the Canadian Coast Guard, or Canadian Customs officials. In over 18 trips in and out of Canadian waters I have never been asked about radio license.

According to some sources, if you are just transiting Canada, do not dock or talk to Canadian operators, while in Canada (i.e. in transit), no Ship's License is necessary...

Incidentally an amateur radio operator has reciprocity in Canada (with some modifiers of their call sign), as do CB, FRS, and some frequencies of GMRS.
Old 04-14-2016, 10:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Karl in NY View Post
I believe even when operating in US waters, you are prohibited from communicating with a foreign-flagged vessel, without both a VHF operator's licence and VHF station license. There is no exam, just fees. And, DSC MMSI is voluntary, unless you fall into a mandated vessel or use class.

I have never heard of a citation...if a foreign registered container ship is bearing down on you, and you have no propulsion, I would certainly pick up the mike, even wi<script id="gpt-impl-0.5538132742776125" src="http://partner.googleadservices.com/gpt/pubads_impl_84.js"></script>thout necessary papers, though it might be futile...they take miles to stop and miles to change course significantly. And vessels from certain countries may just consider your recreational boat a "speed bump" and not even report it.

FCC permits unlicensed use of any radio service in exigent circumstances is life is an issue.
Licensing of operators ensures correct radio procedures like not transmitting during the silence periods etc, so general use without a license is illegal.
However your point re emergencies holds true here too.
Regulations state that "if in distress you can use any means available to obtain assistance". So vessels can carry VHF but it can't be used to transmit unless licensed or in distress.
Old 04-15-2016, 08:02 AM
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When evaluating recommendations about what is required for a citizen of the USA with a radio transmitter on his boat, you might want to consider the authority of the source offering the advice. For example, there is

--advice of the FCC

--advice from the USCG

--advice from a fellow USA boater posted on the web

--advice from some who is not a USA boater posted on the web

You can take any of that advice, but, again, you might want to give it different weighting depending on the source.

As for my own experience, I am a USA citizen with a USA-registered boat that has been operating that boat and its radio from time to time in Canadian waters for about 30 years, making contact with shore stations in Canada. I have never been questioned about my ship station license, my operator's license, or the registration agent that gave me the MMSI being used in my DSC radio by anyone in Canada, and certainly never by anyone in any sort of regulatory enforcement role in Canada.

Not that it matters to anyone else, but I do have an FCC-issued ship station license, have an FCC-issued MMSI, and an hold a FCC-issued radiotelephone license, so in the once-in-a-lifetime chance that someone in Canada might ask me about those licenses, I believe I would be in complete compliance with all their regulations as well as the FCC regulations.

Last edited by jhebert; 04-15-2016 at 08:56 AM.
Old 04-15-2016, 08:13 AM
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Thanks for all the replies. Sometimes I get a little carried away with Canadian regs and here's why. I used to fly charters out of the San Juans and several (sometimes a dozen) times per week, I'd fly to someplace in Canada. I always had my act together and could get through customs with flying colors. But ONE TIME I forgot to file something and the customs agent had me by the balls and she knew it. I could have gotten into some major trouble. That's a fear I never want to relive. She didn't just say "oh you forgot to file this" she actually terrorized me and looked like she was enjoying herself. So, I'd like to do it right. A little trouble now might save a lot of pain later.

Now just to navigate the FCC website. Lord!

Thanks again everyone.

Rob in Seattle/Shilshole Marina.
Old 04-15-2016, 08:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Captain Starbucks View Post
...when signing up for an MMSI, is there a different website to get one if I'm getting ...an FCC?
To get an MMSI from the FCC you first need to get a ship station license. This will cost $215. During the process of applying for an FCC ship station license, you can check a box on the form and get an MMSI, too. There is no extra cost.

You can apply for and submit your application for a ship station license to the FCC using their on-line UNIVERSAL LICENSE SERVICE website.

If you are interested in more details, I have done exactly this and I describe the entire process in some detail and provide hyperlinks in an article I wrote at

http://continuouswave.com/ubb/Forum6/HTML/002990.html

Read the above article and it will explain the process in detail. There is also additional discussion about requirements for USA boaters in foreign countries, for added information and entertainment value. Included in the discussion are links to various regulations of the USA and Canada as discovered by a friend of mine who is a darn good lawyer and boater who spent several hours researching this. Again, apply appropriate weighting to any comments.

An FCC-issued ship station license is good for a ten-year period.

For more discussion about the proper requirements for an MMSI, from what registrar to get the MMSI, how to transfer an MMSI, and other topics related to MMSI use, see another discussion on that topic which is quite informative and up to date at

http://continuouswave.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=688

Last edited by jhebert; 04-15-2016 at 08:38 AM.
Old 04-15-2016, 09:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Captain Starbucks View Post
...I always had my act together and could get through customs with flying colors. But ONE TIME I forgot to file something and the customs agent had me by the balls and she knew it....
USA citizens who frequently cross the USA-Canada border can help themselves by getting a NEXUS card. The fee is not outrageous and if it saves you just one time from a long line or a big hassle, it will be priceless. NEXUS generally helps with both immigration and customs agents.

Also, my own rule about what line to get into: never choose the line with a female agent, particularly a younger female agent. This is not based on pre-judgement (which could be interpreted as a prejudice) but on much experience in crossing borders for 50-years.
Old 04-15-2016, 09:10 AM
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Originally Posted by jhebert View Post
To get an MMSI from the FCC you first need to get a ship station license. This will cost $215. During the process of applying for an FCC ship station license, you can check a box on the form and get an MMSI, too. There is no extra cost.

You can apply for and submit your application for a ship station license to the FCC using their on-line UNIVERSAL LICENSE SERVICE website.

If you are interested in more details, I have done exactly this and I describe the entire process in some detail and provide hyperlinks in an article I wrote at

http://continuouswave.com/ubb/Forum6/HTML/002990.html

Read the above article and it will explain the process in detail. There is also additional discussion about requirements for USA boaters in foreign countries, for added information and entertainment value. Included in the discussion are links to various regulations of the USA and Canada as discovered by a friend of mine who is a darn good lawyer and boater who spent several hours researching this. Again, apply appropriate weighting to any comments.

An FCC-issued ship station license is good for a ten-year period.

For more discussion about the proper requirements for an MMSI, from what registrar to get the MMSI, how to transfer an MMSI, and other topics related to MMSI use, see another discussion on that topic which is quite informative and up to date at

http://continuouswave.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=688
Thanks for all the time you have spent doing all those articles. Very informative and well written!
Old 04-15-2016, 09:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Yrral3215 View Post
Thanks for all the time you have spent doing all those articles. Very informative and well written!
You are welcome, and thanks for that kind comment. I like to collect and organize information and to provide authoritative sources for the information. Glad you found it useful.
Old 04-15-2016, 03:59 PM
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Originally Posted by jhebert View Post
You are welcome, and thanks for that kind comment. I like to collect and organize information and to provide authoritative sources for the information. Glad you found it useful.
Yes thanks for that it answered my question re MMSI numbers and the stupidity of having to change them, when the equipment, specifically VHF DSC, may not allow to reprogram it if you've 'run out of lives'.
As an aside , I am an invigilator for the Australian Maritime College and give people radio examinations for their license. Initially a restricted radio licence included HF. This was split to isolate those requirements and allow VHF only so now we have 3 separate qualifications, the third being Satcom. Ship station licensed are still required for HF and Satcom and such equipment is part of vessel surveys. So getting a VHF operators license is quite straight forward.
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Old 04-15-2016, 05:35 PM
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Originally Posted by jhebert View Post
USA citizens who frequently cross the USA-Canada border can help themselves by getting a NEXUS card. The fee is not outrageous and if it saves you just one time from a long line or a big hassle, it will be priceless. NEXUS generally helps with both immigration and customs agents.

Also, my own rule about what line to get into: never choose the line with a female agent, particularly a younger female agent. This is not based on pre-judgement (which could be interpreted as a prejudice) but on much experience in crossing borders for 50-years.

Good advice, as was the advice about marine radio station and operator licenses. My only objection to both licenses is that they involve recurring fees, for initial application and periodic renewals...very little bang for the buck, considering the so-called enforcement agents have little concern for these technicalities, but, I like to avoid anything that opens the door with "probable cause", having spent a career as a LEO investigator...PC gets your foot in the door legally, even for a burned-out license plate light on a car, for example.
And an open display of laminated copies of both licenses seems to give you a certain credibility aspect, even if the enforcers don't know what they're looking at.

Re: female border-crossing "agents"...more the level of TSA inspectors at US airports. Especially crossing into Quebec, the females all seem to have something to prove and that they're worthy of peer respect. Many remote crossing points don't give you a choice of lanes, since there is only one. When asked for purpose of visit, I generally reply "to sample some fine Québécois women, by the hour", since prostitution is legal there...they are not expecting that reply and generally lose their composure and pass me through quickly, and that answer is not a basis for US charges based on the "sexual tourism" statute.

I once crossed into Quebec on a motorcycle (FJR1300), and was pulled aside and hand-scanned with a metal detector...my federal shield on a neck chain triggered the device, and they spent an hour searching for a handgun, with all my shit spread out on the lawn area, in the rain, so they can definitely bust balls if they care to.

I try to avoid Quebec, by land or water, and my US property is only 10 miles away, less by water. The area near me is desolate farming county, and a NY registration makes them hostile. I tried flying the Maple-Leaf below the US flag, and it only made things worse.
Old 04-18-2016, 08:42 AM
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Well thank you all for the replies and getting me steered in the right direction.

At least now I know what is legal and the right thing to do, but will probably follow the masses and not do any more than anybody else. Canadian halibut waters are a 3-4 hour boat ride from my house. I was just worried about blowing 6-8 hours worth of diesel and getting turned around at the border.

Rob in Seattle
Old 09-05-2017, 06:06 PM
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Default Will a US boating MMSI work with DSC in Canada (regardless of the regulations)?

I just got a handheld VHF radio with DSC. My plan is to attach this to my lifejacket and wear it at all times when single handing. Then if I go overboard I can push the distress button and let the Coasties know I'm bobbing around in Puget Sound, and my Lat/Long, so hopefully somebody can fish me out before I go hypothermic.

I don't really give a crap about being in compliance with laws and regulations regarding being a licensed radio operator - which apparantly I need if I'm traveling up to Canada and want to use DSC. In some situations I'm sure that means something, but for getting on the VHF for normal recreational boating communications, that's meaningless. I suspect very few recreational boaters in the San Juan islands have gone through this step - which seems to involve nothing other than filling out forms and paying money.

However, I DO care about whether my DSC will work in Canada. My DSC radio will not work unless I enter an MMSI number. If I get a "normal" MMSI number (free and very easy), will it work in Canada? My guess is it will work just fine. Other vessels equipped with DSC will pick up my distress signal and display my lat long. Perhaps the Canadians will not be able to look up my MMSI number, but that's not really as important.

Can anyone confirm my guess above?

One really annoying thing about the radio that I just purchased is that you can only enter the MMSI number ONCE. If you want to change it you have to send it back to the manufacturer for a factory reset. This is a handheld unit, not attached to the vessel. So if I take this with me on someone else's boat, it will transmit the wrong MMSI number. Who came up with this nonsense idea? I'm tempted to take the unit back for a refund because of that stupidity.

Thanks,

Duncan

Last edited by clymbon; 09-05-2017 at 06:08 PM. Reason: fixed typos

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