VHF marine radio qualifications | ACMA

VHF marine radio qualifications

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) released the consultation paper: A new approach for recreational boaters who operate VHF marine radios, representing the second phase in the review of VHF marine radio operator qualification arrangements.

The broad objectives of the review were to:

improve the integrity of the radiocommunications spectrum management framework as it applies to the recreational boating community support the needs of the recreational boating community in its use of VHF radio, including for safety promote efficiency of the regulatory framework supporting marine radio use by the recreational boating community

The review of VHF marine radio operator qualification arrangements began with the release of the first discussion paper in September 2009: ACMA seeks views on use of VHF radio by recreational boaters.

The ACMA also established a VHF Marine Radio Operators Working Party (MROWP) involving state marine safety and regulatory bodies.

The ACMA received 69 non-confidential submissions to the first discussion paper and took actions including:

development of an independent survey of compliance rates examination of marine safety data review of the regulation of the carriage of VHF marine radios by the states and territories and consideration of emerging events


The independent Newspoll survey showed that, of the respondents who owned a marine VHF radio, only 41 per cent were aware of the requirement to have a certificate of proficiency. Of those who used a VHF radio only 29 per cent actually had the certificate required to operate it.

A new approach to certification

The ACMA is proposing that the requirement for a certificate of proficiency be removed for recreational VHF marine radio operators within Australian territorial waters and that the remaining examination and certificate process be streamlined.

Reducing regulation is recommended because it is more closely aligned with:

the government policy that regulation be ‘effective in addressing an identified problem and efficient in terms of maximising the benefits to the community, taking account of the costs’ the ACMA’s spectrum management function the ACMA’s intent that regulation be fit for purpose

The ACMA also believes information and awareness campaigns will best deliver this information to recreational boaters.

Qualification management

The ACMA believes there is potential to:

streamline the regulatory framework associated with marine radio certification improve efficiency by having the arrangements managed by an organisation more closely aligned to the  marine sector reduce duplication  by government agencies in the provision of these services.

The ACMA continues to manage certification arrangements for the recreational boating sector through its outsourced provider the Australian Maritime College.

Further information

Requests for further information can be sent to mrowp@acma.gov.au

Last updated: 29 July 2016