VHF marine radio | ACMA

VHF marine radio

If you own or use a marine VHF radio, make sure you know the procedures for radio use

National and international systems exist to provide search and rescue assistance to ships in distress. Using the correct radio protocols and procedures ensures these systems work effectively.

Use of VHF marine radio in Australia is authorised under the class licence.

Calling a coast station or ship station on channel 16

Keep it clear—call and switch. Call on channel 16, then switch to an appropriate working channel to keep channel 16 clear for others to use.

Or you can arrange an appropriate working channel before leaving the wharf.

When calling and working with other vessels:

  • use channels 72, 73 or 77.

When calling and working with a coast station:

  • use channel 73.

Fact sheet on VHF marine radio

The ACMA's fact sheet has key messages and tips for using your marine radio on the water.

Marine radio certificates of proficiency

All operators of marine radios (except 27MHz) are required to hold the appropriate qualification to operate the device.
More information.

Marine VHF radio operator's handbook

The Australian Maritime College produces a handbook that provides all the information needed to operate your VHF radio correctly:

  • Australian Maritime College: Marine Radio Operator's Handbook 

Copies of the handbooks are available for viewing online or for purchase from the college. Please see the link below to access this information.

Educational videos

The ACMA has produced a range of educational videos for the boating community about how, and why it is important, to operate your VHF marine radio correctly.

Quick tips


The ACMA has produced a graphic showing the VHF channels available to VHF marine radio as well as a graphic providing advice on the right use of VHF marine radio. Copies of the graphics are available for download at the link below.

Review of VHF marine radio certificates of proficiency

The review of VHF marine radio certificates of proficiency for recreational boaters has now concluded. For further information about the review outcomes please see:

  • Final outcomes paper: Word [.docx] or PDF formats
  • Responses to second round submissions: Word [.docx] or PDF formats
  • Media release: MR 72/2012 - New qualification for recreational boaters using VHF marine radio channels.

Further information

Last updated: 17 December 2012