The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates who is required to hold a radio operator's license/permit and what type is needed.
The determining factors include: Vessel type and size, the area that you operate your vessel in, who you are communicating with, and the type of radio equipment that you are using.
The rules governing whether an operator’s license or permit is required are no more complex than those governing marine radio station (Ship Station) licensing. They do become slightly more complex though when it comes to determining which type of license or permit is needed.
The good news is that in the case of most U.S. based recreational boaters; no operator's license is required. There are exceptions though, such as the type of radio equipment being used.
The obvious starting point is to first determine whether or not you need an operator's license at all. Like our FCC Ship Station licensing page, we have a table below to assist you in finding out who is required by law to have a license to operate a marine radio station of any type aboard any vessel:
|Marine Radio Operators License
Is your vessel any one of the following?
|If you answered YES to any of the above
|If you answered NO to all of the above
|Radio operator’s license is required.
|No radio operator’s license required.
|At any point in this table you answer "YES," you are required to have some form of license to operate a marine radio station.
Now that you have checked the table above and have determined whether you need a radio operators license or not, the next step is to determine which radio operator’s license you will need.
There are more than a dozen different commercial radio operator licenses currently issued by the FCC. However, for the recreational boater or small commercial boat operator (less than 300 gross tons), you will typically only need to look at one or two different licenses, the Marine Radio Operator’s Permit (MROP) or the Restricted Radiotelephone Operator’s Permit (RR.)
|Which License do You Need?
|Marine Radio Operator
|Restricted Radiotelephone Operator
If you answered "No" to all the questions at left...
|Is your vessel >20 m and sailing on the Great Lakes?
|Are you sailing foreign or communicating with foreign radio stations?
|Is your vessel >8 m and engaged in towing on the Great Lakes?
|Do you use MF/HF Single Sideband or Sat Comm?
|Is your vessel >300 gross tons?
|If you answered YES to any of the above statements, you are required to have a Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Permit (RR.)
|Is your vessel carrying more than (6) passengers for hire?
|If you answered YES to any statement above, you are required to have a Marine Radio Operator Permit (MP.)
This is the simplest license to obtain. There is no exam involved and it will serve the needs of most recreational boaters.
The following criteria must be met:
The Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Permit (RR) is issued for the holder’s lifetime (does not expire.)
The MP is required to operate radiotelephone stations aboard certain vessels that sail the Great Lakes. They are also required to operate radiotelephone stations aboard vessels of more than 300 gross tons and vessels which carry more than six passengers for hire in the open sea or any tidewater area of the United States. They are also required to operate certain aviation radiotelephone stations and certain coast radiotelephone stations.
The following criteria must be met:
The Marine Radio Operator Permit (MP) is issued for the holder’s lifetime (does not expire.)
To get you on the right track to get your Radio Operator’s License, we are going to send you to our FCC Licensing Page.