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Maritime ship radio licence

Why you need a maritime ship licence

You need a maritime ship licence to use radio equipment on board a ship.

There are 4 types of maritime ship licences.

To operate a maritime ship station, you need an appropriate certificate.

The Radiocommunications (Interpretation) Determination 2015 defines maritime ship licences. 

What a maritime ship licence lets you do

A maritime ship licence allows you to operate a station that is on board a ship.

Under this licence, you can communicate with maritime coast stations and use:

  • on board communication stations (on or off the ship station)
  • radio equipment in the ship's survival craft
  • a mobile earth station on board the ship

To use a coast station and its ship stations, you might need a limited coast assigned licence.

Frequencies for maritime ship stations

Under this licence, you must operate on the:

  • maritime frequencies
  • maritime mobile-satellite frequencies
  • radiodetermination frequencies

You only need a maritime ship class licence to operate equipment on the standard frequencies:

  • 27 MHz marine band
  • VHF marine band

You may only use these Automatic Identification System (AIS) frequencies for AIS purposes:

  • 161.975 MHz
  • 162.025 MHz

This includes ship identification and heading information. 

Communicate privately

We cannot guarantee that your communications will be private because of your frequency.

To ensure privacy, you can install voice privacy devices. You may only use these devices if they don't affect the performance of the equipment.

You cannot use a privacy device when transmitting:

  • a call sign
  • messages to identify your station

Licence period

We issue most maritime ship licences for one year.

When your licence is due for renewal, we will send you a notice. You will need to act because renewal is not automatic.

We may issue some licences for less or longer than one year. This depends on:

  • the type of licence
  • its effect on other radios
  • if we have already assigned you a frequency
  • if we have cancelled your licence in the past 2 years

We review special cases on an individual basis.

Once you receive a licence, we will not cancel it unless you:

  • give up your licence 
  • break the rules for your licence
  • break the law

Licence rules

When you have a maritime ship licence, you must follow the rules:

The rules make sure you can communicate safely and without interference.

Licence conditions

We may put certain conditions on an apparatus licence. These are called Licence Conditions Determinations (LCDs).

LCDs for all apparatus licences are in the Radiocommunications Licence Condition (Apparatus Licence) Determination 2015.

Additional LCDs for maritime ship licences are in the Radiocommunications Licence Conditions (Maritime Ship Licence) Determination 2002.

Your licence will say if an LCD applies to you. You should be familiar with all the LCDs that we put on your licence.

Other rules

We will print:

  • other rules that apply to you under 'special conditions'
  • information that may interest you under ‘advisory notes’

Call signs

Call signs are a unique series of letters and numbers.

They make it easy to identify a station.

We print your call sign on your licence. 

You should use your call sign:

  • at the start of every transmission
  • before a series of transmissions
  • during testing

Extra call signs for maritime ship stations

If you use digital selective calling on your ship, you will need a maritime mobile service identity. You can apply to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.

If you send public messages through a foreign coast station, you must have an accounting authority identification code (AAIC). You need this code because the foreign coast station will charge you a fee.

You can email us about getting an AAIC.


Licence fees depend on where and how you will use your radio.

See what licence fee applies to you in the apparatus licence fee schedule.

Find out if you can get a licence fee exemption or concession.

Apply for a maritime ship radio licence

Apply for a maritime ship licence by filling out an:

When you have completed the form, email it to us.

You may ask an accredited person to help with your application.

Get your assigned frequency

We can assign a frequency to you, or you can ask an accredited person.

If you ask us to assign your frequency, you will need to fill out an application for additional station information.

If an accredited person assigns your frequency, they will give you a certificate. Give us this certificate with your licence application.

Transfer a maritime ship radio licence

You can apply to:

  • transfer your maritime ship radio licence to someone else
  • let someone else use a device under your licence 
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