Apr 2, 2024 | Boating News

How to Get a VHF Radio License as an Individual Operator



Any vessel that has a marine VHF radio onboard is required by law to have two licenses. The first is the ship’s license, and the second is the operator’s license issued to the person who has been trained to VHF radio.


If you are an individual who needs to get a VHF radio license, you can sign up to training with First Class Sailing. We offer the VHF Radio License course either online or in person with us in Southampton or London.


How to get a VHF radio license


1) Sign-up to a VHF Radio License course and take the lessons either online or in a classroom environment.


2) Take the assessment which is based on content learnt in the course and lasts three hours. It is made up of a two part exam, one practical and one theory. The theory paper takes thirty minutes, followed by the practical session with other candidates.


3) Pass the assessment and receive your VHF radio license.


You must have taken the VHF Course before attending for assessment, and the minimum age is sixteen.



Costs are £149 for the course and £30 for the assessment if you took the course with us. If you took the course elsewhere and just wish to do the assessment with us, the assessment cost is £45. There is also a £70 licence fee payable to the RYA.


It can take up to 21 days to receive your VHF (SRC) Radio Licence. If you pay an additional fee the RYA will turn it around for you in 48 hours. (Very useful if you are chartering a yacht imminently!)


There is no time limit between taking the course and the assessment however you would be advised to take the assessment pretty soon after you complete the course, so the knowledge is fresh in your head.


Why get a VHF radio license

If you have a marine VHF radio on your boat, then as an individual you need a license to operate it, or a license holder needs to be on the boat with you. The boat itself also requires a Ship’s License by law, as enforced by Ofcom.


If you fail to hold and produce a valid ship’s radio license, then you could incur an on the spot fine. The maximum penalty is currently set at £5,000 and can even lead to a six month prison sentence. If you are convicted of using VHF radio without a license you might also have give-up any radio apparatus that was used illegally.


Licensing is enforced in order to ensure that VHF radio equipment on a vessel does not cause undue interference to other users on the water and is a way of validating that the radio is being operated by a competent person.


Aside from the obvious benefit of not breaking the law, holding a VHF marine radio licence means you can then communicate effectively, safely, clearly, and responsibly with other boats and the coastguard in emergency situations. You can also receive weather updates and navigational information.


In addition to this, all charter companies, including those in the Med, will ask that you have a VHF Radio license to charter one of their yachts.


It is important to note that holding a licence is not a substitute for training. If you feel you are rusty and need a refresh, you can re-take your training with us to bring you back up to speed.


Once you have completed the assessment successfully with First Class Sailing, the RYA will issue your license.

The post How to Get a VHF Radio License as an Individual Operator appeared first on Sailing Blog.

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