There are two different licences required to install and operate VHF Radio on small craft. A Ship Radio Licence to cover the installation and a SRC to authorise you to operate the equipment.
GMDSS is a system devised by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to ensure that vessels have suitable means of communication, depending on their size and the areas in which they operate. Certain equipment is mandatory on large vessels (over 300GRT), but most leisure vessels are covered only by recommendations and fit equipment voluntarily.
The Ship Radio Licence must list ALL equipment capable of radio transmissions from the vessel. This includes VHF transceivers, radar, EPIRB and SART. The licence is valid continuously, but needs to be updated whenever any equipment is added, removed or changed.
Apply online and the licence is free of charge. You download and print the completed licence form.
Apply by post and you will be sent the licence, but you must enclose £20 for the service.
OFFCOM. Web page for marine radio licensing is http://www.ofcom.org.uk/licensing/olc/
Marine VHF radio transmissions may only be made by, or under the direct supervision of, a qualified Operator. GMDSS defines different licences covering the use of different classes of radio equipment. Equipment for long-range communications will require a Long Range Certificate (LRC) or a General Operator's Certificate (GOC). For small-craft VHF-only operations, using what is termed a "Class D" radio, the VHF Short Range Certificate is the necessary qualification.
Most Short Range Certificates are issued through one-day courses at Sea Schools, or other nautical training establishments, recognised by the Royal Yachting Association. The tutors presenting these courses must be qualified as SRC Assessors and the courses must be run in accordance with RYA requirements. The courses include a written exam paper and assessment of the competence of the candidate to operate the radio equipment.
Courses cover the basics of VHF radio propagation, the different types of situation which may occur at sea and appropriate message structure for radio transmissions. The course also explains the Digital Selective Calling (DSC) system, which provides direct alerting of the intended recipient(s) of your call. The physical operation of typical radio equipment is practised, including receiving and transmissing each type of alert, and "housekeeping" tasks such as editing the directory of call numbers (MMSIs) and reading the log of received calls.
Candidates who have sufficient knowledge of the required procedures can book a SRC Exam with any establishment which offers SRC courses. They will be required to complete the written paper and complete a series of exercises using the radio equipment. There is a fixed fee which is paid to the RYA and the assessor receives a part of this back from the RYA as his/her payment for conducting the exam.
The candidate and assessor jointly complete a form which includes a declaration to be signed by the candidate. This form is sent to the RYA, together with a passport photo and the fee. The RYA then issues the licence on behalf of OfCom