VHF Marine Frequencies by International Agreement

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) adopts international regulations and treaties governing all terrestrial and space uses of the radio frequency spectrum. Within these international regulations, individual countries may adopt their own national legislation. The intent is to provide the maritime mobile radio communications user with a group of standard frequencies that are known to all mariners and can be used worldwide.

The VHF frequencies shown below, have been set aside by the ITU for the purposes stated. As of January 01, 2017, there are now 98 VHF channels made available by international agreement. Many previous duplex channels have been split to simplex to increase the channel availability. Most nation states do not make full use of all of these channels, since some frequencies shown are auctioned off or sold outright by nation states to private use and some are dedicated for experimental or special purpose use only.


While new VHF radios will be required to take full advantage of the new frequencies, older VHF’s will remain usable other than not being able to access some of the new (4) digit channel numbers.

The complete list of frequencies available in the VHF Maritime Mobile Band with notes:

Open Down Arrow Table of VHF Transmitting Frequencies by International Agreement

Table of Transmitting Frequencies in the VHF Maritime Mobile Band
Channel Designator Notes Transmitting Frequencies (MHz) Intership Port Operations and Ship Movement Public Correspondence
Ship Stations Coast Stations Single frequency Two frequency
01 m 156.050 160.650   X X X
1001   156.050 156.050   X    
02 m 156.100 160.700   X X X
03 m 156.150 160.750   X X X
04 m 156.200 160.800   X X X
05 m 156.250 160.850   X X X
1005   156.250 156.250   X    
06 f 156.300 156.300 X      
2006 r 160.900 160.900        
07 m 156.350 160.950   X X X
1007   156.350 156.350   X    
08   156.400   X     X
09 i 156.450 156.450 X X    
10 h, q 156.500 156.500 X X    
11 q 156.550 156.550   X    
12   156.600 156.600   X    
13 k 156.650 156.650 X X    
14   156.700 156.700   X    
15 g 156.750 156.750 X X    
16 f 156.800 156.800 DISTRESS, SAFETY, and CALLING
17 g 156.850 156.850 X X    
18 m 156.900 161.500   X X X
1018   156.900 156.900   X    
19 m 156.950 161.550   X X X
1019   156.950 156.950   X    
2019 mm 161.550 161.550   X    
20 m 157.000 161.600   X X X
1020   157.000 157.000   X    
2020 mm 161.600 161.600   X    
21 y, wa 157.050 161.650   X X X
1021   157.050 157.050   X    
22 y, wa 157.100 161.700   X X X
1022   157.100 157.100   X    
23 x, y, wa 157.150 161.750   X X X
1023   157.150 157.150   X    
24 w,wx,x,xx 157.200 161.800   X X X
1024 w,wx,x,xx 157.200          
2024 w,wx,x,xx 161.800 161.800 X (Digital Only)      
25 w,wx,x,xx 157.250 161.850   X X X
1025 w,wx,x,xx 157.250   X (Digital Only)      
2025 w,wx,x,xx 161.850 161.850        
26 w,ww,x 157.300 161.900   X X X
1026 w,ww,x 157.300          
2026 w,ww,x   161.900        
27 z,zx 157.350 161.950     X X
1027 z,zz 157.350 157.350        

ASM 2 (2027)

z 161.950 161.950        
28 z,zx 157.400 162.000     X X
1028 z,zz 157.400 157.400   X    
ASM 2 (2028) z 162.000 162.000        
60 m 156.025 160.625   X X X
61 m 156.075 160.675   X X X
62 m 156.125 160.725   X X X
63 m 156.175 160.775   X X X
1063   156.175 156.175   X    
64 m 156.225 160.825   X X X
65 m 156.275 160.875   X X X
1065   156.275 156.275   X    
66 m 156.325 160.925   X X X
1066   156.325 156.325   X    
67 h 156.375 156.375 X X    
68   156.425 156.425   X    
69   156.475 156.475 X X    
70 f, j 156.525 156.525 DSC for DISTRESS, SAFETY, and CALLING
71   156.575 156.575   X    
72 i 156.625   X      
73 h, i 156.675 156.675 X X    
74   156.725 156.725   X    
75 n, s 156.775 156.775   X    
76 n, s 156.825 156.825   X    
77   156.875   X      
78 m 156.925 161.525   X X X
1078   156.925 156.925   X    
2078 mm 161.525 161.525   X    
79 m 156.975 161.575   X X X
1079   156.975 156.975   X    
2079 mm 161.575 161.575   X    
80   157.025 161.625   X X X
1080   157.025 157.025   X    
81 y,wa 157.075 161.675   X X X
1081   157.075 157.075   X    
82 x,y,wa 157.125 161.725   X X X
1082   157.125 157.125   X    
83 x,y,wa 157.175 161.775   X X X
1083   157.175 157.175   X    
84 w,wx,x,xx 157.225 161.825   X X X
1084 w,wx,x,xx 157.225   X (Digital Only)      
2084 w,wx,x,xx 161.825 161.825        
85 w,wx,x,xx 157.275 161.875   X X X
1085 w,wx,x,xx            
2085 w,wx,x,xx            
86 w,ww,x 157.325 161.925   X X X
1086 w,ww,x            
2086 w,ww,x            
87 z,zz 157.375 157.375   X    
88 z,zz 157.425 157.425   X    
AIS 1 f, l, p 161.975 161.975        
AIS 2 f, l, p 162.025 162.025        
Notes From Table Above:
General Notes

a. Administrations may designate frequencies in the intership, port operations and ship movement services for use by light aircraft and helicopters to communicate with ships or participating coast station in predominantly maritime support operations under the conditions specified in Nos. 51.69, 51.73, 51.74, 51.75, 51.76, 51.77 and 51.78. However, the use of the channels which are shared with public correspondence shall be subject to prior agreement between interested and affected administrations.

b. The channels of the present Appendix, with the exception of channels 06, 13, 15, 16, 17, 70, 75 and 76, may also be used for highspeed data and facsimile transmissions, subject to special arrangement between interested and affected administrations.

c. The channels of the present Appendix, with exception of channels 06, 13, 15, 16, 17, 70, 75 and 76, may be used for direct-printing telegraphy and data transmission, subject to special arrangement between interested and affected administrations

d. The frequencies in this table may also be used for radiocommunications on inland waterways in accordance with the conditions specified in No. 5.226.

e. Administrations may apply 12.5 kHz channel interleaving on a non-interference basis to 25 kHz channels, in accordance with the most recent version of Recommendation ITU-R M.1084, provided:
•It shall not affect the 25 kHz channels of the present Appendix maritime mobile distress and safety frequencies, especially the channels 06, 13, 15, 16, 17, 70, AIS 1 and AIS 2, nor the technical characteristics mentioned in Recommendation ITU-R M.489-2 for these channels;
•Implementation of 12.5 kHz channel interleaving and consequential national requirements shall be subject to coordination with affected administrations.

Specific notes

f. The frequencies 156.300 MHz (channel 06), 156.525 MHz (channel 70), 156.800 MHz (channel 16), 161.975 MHz (AIS 1) and 162.025 MHz (AIS 2) may also be used by aircraft stations for the purpose of search and rescue operations and other safety-related operations.

g. Channels 15 and 17 may also be used for on-board communications provided the effective radiated power does not exceed 1 W, and subject to the national regulations of the administration concerned when these channels are used in its territorial waters.

h. Within the European Maritime Area and in Canada these frequencies (channels 10, 67, 73) may also be used, if so required, by the individual administrations concerned, for communication between ship stations, aircraft stations and participating land stations engaged in coordinated search and rescue and anti-pollution operations in local areas, under the conditions specified in Nos. 51.69, 51.73, 51.74, 51.75, 51.76, 51.77 and 51.78.

i. The preferred first three frequencies for the purpose indicated in note a) are 156.450 MHz (channel 09), 156.625 MHz (channel 72) and 156.675 MHz (channel 73).

j. Channel (70) is to be used exclusively for digital selective calling for distress, safety and calling.

k. Channel 13 is designated for use on a world-wide basis as a navigation safety communication channel, primarily for intership navigation safety communications. It may also be used for the ship movement and port operations service subject to the national regulations of the administrations concerned.

l. The channels (AIS 1 and AIS 2) are used for an automatic identification system (AIS) capable of providing worldwide operation, unless other frequencies are designated on a regional basis for this purpose. Such use should be in accordance with the most recent version of Recommendation ITU-R M.1371.

m. These channels may be operated as a single frequency channels, subject to coordination with affected administrations. The following conditions apply for single frequency usage:
    - The lower frequency portion of these channels may be operated as single frequency channels by ship and coast stations.
    - Transmission using the upper frequency portion of these channels is limited to coast stations.
    - If permitted by administrations and specified by national regulations, the upper frequency portion of these channels may be used by ship stations for transmission. All precautions should be taken to avoid harmful interference to channels AIS 1, AIS 2, 2027 and 2028. From 1 January 2019, channel 2027 will be designated ASM 1 and channel 2028 will be designated ASM 2.

mm. Transmission on these channels is limited to coast stations. If permitted by administrations and specified by national regulations, these channels may be used by ship stations for transmission. All precautions should be taken to avoid harmful interference to channels AIS 1, AIS 2, 2027 and 2028.
From 1 January 2019, channel 2027 will be designated ASM 1 and channel 2028 will be designated ASM 2.

n. With the exception of AIS, the use of these channels (75 and 76) should be restricted to navigation-related communications only and all precautions should be taken to avoid harmful interference to channel 16 by limiting the output power to 1 W.

o. (n/a)

p. Additionally, AIS 1 and AIS 2 may be used by the mobile-satellite service (Earth-to-space) for the reception of AIS transmissions from ships.

q. When using these channels (10 and 11), all precautions should be taken to avoid harmful interference to channel 70.

r. In the maritime mobile service, this frequency is reserved for experimental use for future applications or systems (e.g. new AIS applications, man over board systems, etc.). If authorized by administrations for experimental use, the operation shall not cause harmful interference to, or claim protection from, stations operating in the fixed and mobile services.

s. Channels 75 and 76 are also allocated to the mobile-satellite service (Earth-to-space) for the reception of long-range AIS broadcast messages from ships (Message 27; see the most recent version of Recommendation ITU-R M.1371).

t. (n/a)

u. (n/a)

v. (n/a)

w. In Regions 1 and 3 (i.e. except N. & S. America):
Until 1 January 2017, the frequency bands 157.025-157.325 MHz and 161.625-161.925 MHz (corresponding to channels: 80, 21, 81, 22, 82, 23, 83, 24, 84, 25, 85, 26, 86) may be used for new technologies, subject to coordination with affected administrations. Stations using these channels or frequency bands for new technologies shall not cause harmful interference to, or claim protection from, other stations operating in accordance with Article 5.
From 1 January 2017, the frequency bands 157.025-157.325 MHz and 161.625-161.925 MHz (corresponding to channels: 80, 21, 81, 22, 82, 23, 83, 24, 84, 25, 85, 26, 86) are identified for the utilization of the digital systems described in the most recent version of Recommendation ITU-R M.1842. These frequency bands could also be used for analogue modulation described in the most recent version of Recommendation ITU-R M.1084 by an administration that wishes to do so, subject to not claiming protection from other stations in the maritime mobile service using digitally modulated emissions and subject to coordination with affected administrations.

ww. In Region 2 (i.e. N. and S. America), the frequency bands 157.200-157.325 and 161.800-161.925 MHz (corresponding to channels: 24, 84, 25, 85, 26 and 86) are designated for digitally modulated emissions in accordance with the most recent version of Recommendation ITU-R M.1842.

wa. In Regions 1 and 3: Until 1 January 2017, the frequency bands 157.025-157.175 MHz and 161.625-161.775 MHz (corresponding to channels: 80, 21, 81, 22, 82, 23 and 83) may be used for digitally modulated emissions, subject to coordination with affected administrations. Stations using these channels or frequency bands for digitally modulated emissions shall not cause harmful interference to, or claim protection from, other stations operating in accordance with Article 5.
From 1 January 2017, the frequency bands 157.025-157.100 MHz and 161.625-161.700 MHz (corresponding to channels: 80, 21, 81 and 22) are identified for utilization of the digital systems described in the most recent version of Recommendation ITU-R M.1842 using multiple 25 kHz contiguous channels.
From 1 January 2017, the frequency bands 157.150-157.175 MHz and 161.750-161.775 MHz (corresponding to channels: 23 and 83) are identified for utilization of the digital systems described in the most recent version of Recommendation ITU-R M.1842 using two 25 kHz contiguous channels.
From 1 January 2017, the frequencies 157.125 MHz and 161.725 MHz (corresponding to channel: 82) are identified for the utilization of the digital systems described in the most recent version of Recommendation ITU-R M.1842.
The frequency bands 157.025-157.175 MHz and 161.625-161.775 MHz (corresponding to channels: 80, 21, 81, 22, 82, 23 and 83) can also be used for analogue modulation described in the most recent version of Recommendation ITU-R M.1084 by an administration that wishes to do so, subject to not claiming protection from other stations in the maritime mobile service using digitally modulated emissions and subject to coordination with affected administrations.

ww. In Region 2, the frequency bands 157.200-157.325 and 161.800-161.925 MHz (corresponding to channels: 24, 84, 25, 85, 26 and 86) are designated for digitally modulated emissions in accordance with the most recent version of Recommendation ITU-R M.1842.
In Canada and Barbados, from 1 January 2019 the frequency bands 157.200-157.275 and 161.800-161.875 MHz (corresponding to channels: 24, 84, 25 and 85) may be used for digitally modulated emissions, such as those described in the most recent version of Recommendation ITU-R M.2092, subject to coordination with affected administrations.

x. From 1 January 2017, in Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, the frequency bands 157.125-157.325 and 161.725-161.925 MHz (corresponding to channels: 82, 23, 83, 24, 84, 25, 85, 26 and 86) are designated for digitally modulated emissions. From 1 January 2017, in China, the frequency bands 157.150-157.325 and 161.750-161.925 MHz (corresponding to channels: 23, 83, 24, 84, 25, 85, 26 and 86) are designated for digitally modulated emissions.

xx. From 1 January 2019, the channels 24, 84, 25 and 85 may be merged in order to form a unique duplex channel with a bandwidth of 100 kHz in order to operate the VDES terrestrial component described in the most recent version of Recommendation ITU-R M.2092.

y. These channels may be operated as single or duplex frequency channels, subject to coordination with affected administrations.

z. Until 1 January 2019, these channels may be used for possible testing of future AIS applications without causing harmful interference to, or claiming protection from, existing applications and stations operating in the fixed and mobile services.
From 1 January 2019, these channels are each split into two simplex channels. The channels 2027 and 2028 designated as ASM 1 and ASM 2 are used for application specific messages (ASM) as described in the most recent version of Recommendation ITU-R M.2092.

zx. In the United States, these channels are used for communication between ship stations and coast stations for the purpose of public correspondence.

zz. From 1 January 2019, channels 1027, 1028, 87 and 88 are used as single-frequency analogue channels for port operation and ship movement.



Distress, Safety and Calling Channels

The following VHF marine frequencies have been set aside by the ITU for the purposes stated. These frequencies are internationally accepted by most nations and will be found on all VHF Marine Radios regardless of where or by whom they are manufactured.


On the following pages, we have listed marine VHF frequency usage tables for a few countries from around the world. While our list is small, we hope that we can build on these tables going forward. If you have information concerning VHF frequency allocation of countries that we have not listed please send it on to us at and we will try and get it published.

VHF Frequency Tables by Country


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