© david jerrard 2020

A new Irish Ship Station licence costs €100 and lasts for the lifetime of the vessel.  It will give you a unique international call sign for the boat and an MMSI number, if you need one.

A UK Ship Station licence is similar but is free of charge.

The Irish authorities require that the applicant holds an acceptable radio Certificate, such as the Irish SRC, when applying for a Ship Station licence.

We use real DSC radios on our courses unlike some radio schools that use computer simulators - you won’t be using a simulator on the boat, after all.

Sea~Craft is an Irish Department of Transport recognised course provider and examination centre.

We have been running successful VHF radio courses and exams for more than 20 years during which time literally thousands of our students have been awarded their VHF certificates.

Our courses are supported with our own dedicated and comprehensive course notes, clearly written and in plain English.

There is also some evidence that suggests that mobile phone transmissions may affect the accuracy of GPS positioning.


A VHF radio transmitter used on the inland waterways and lakes of Ireland must comply with the same legal requirements as one used at sea: an operator's certificate and a licence for the boat are both required.

! NOTE that since June the 1st. of 2004 the Irish government does not recognise the RYA/MCA SRC and will not issue Authority to Operate in Irish territorial waters or a Ship Station Licence, call sign or MMSI to the holder of an RYA/MCA certificate.

There is no indication that this will  change in the foreseeable future.



A marine VHF radio transceiver is an essential item of safety equipment afloat. Anyone who goes afloat on a vessel of any type should know how to operate one correctly.

Understanding how to communicate effectively with rescue services should you ever find yourself in need of urgent help at sea could quite literally mean the difference between life or death.

Since April of 2001 all new fixed VHF transceivers must include Digital Selective Calling (DSC). DSC is an enormous step forward in marine communications - you should understand what DSC can do and how to operate it.

A VHF radio certificate is a prerequisite for those undertaking many of the Irish Sailing and Royal Yachting Association assessments and exams.

It may also be required to comply with the Irish Department of Transport and the UK's Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA) manning requirements for small commercial vessels.



Although anyone can simply walk into a shop and buy a marine VHF radio many countries have regulations and laws regarding their sale and use.

The regulations are not difficult to comply with and are, for the most part, similar for Ireland and the UK as well as most other European jurisdictions.

The rules regarding buying and using a VHF transceiver apply to handheld portable VHF radios and fixed or permanently installed VHF radios.

There are 3 basic legal requirements:

1) The radio must be CE approved

 and carry the CE mark and the RTTE Declaration of Conformity

2) The radio may only be operated by someone who holds an appropriate Certificate of Competency or under the control of someone who does.

3) The boat must have a licence, known by the catchy title of ‘Licence to establish a Wireless Telegraph Ship Station’.


The ‘old’ Restricted Certificate of Competency in Radio Telephony was discontinued in 2000 and has been replaced by the Short Range Certificate (SRC) which includes Digital Selective Calling (DSC).

The old ‘Restricted VHF’ certificate is still valid but does not include DSC. Holders of the old certificate can upgrade to the current SRC by completing a short course; if they fit a new radio with DSC they will need to in order to obtain an MMSI number without which the DSC functions will not work.


* The range of a mobile at sea is often much less than VHF range.

* There may be no mobile coverage a few miles offshore in many areas.

*  You can't call a passing ship or boat.

*  Most importantly in an emergency only the number you ring will hear you; the ships, leisure craft, yachts, dive boats and others near to you will be unaware that you need help.

*  If you use your phone to call 999 (or 112) time will be lost while your call is re-routed to the Coast Guard who must then transmit the details to all vessels and rescue services via  Relays, all of which will cost precious time - time you may not have.

*  A DSC Distress transmission will automatically alert all ships and rescue services to listen, and respond if appropriate, to your subsequent voice Distress communications.

Download a licence form here

VHF course details VHF course dates VHF FAQS