The FCC requires a Marine Radio Operator Permit to operate radiotelephone stations aboard certain vessels that sail the Great Lakes. The Marine Radio Operator Permit is also required to operate radiotelephone stations aboard vessels of more than 300 gross tons or on vessels that carry more than six passengers for hire in the open sea or any tidewater area of the United States. You’re also required to have the Marine Radio Operator Permit to operate certain aviation radiotelephone stations and certain coast radiotelephone stations.

Here’s a chart to help you decide if you need to have the Marine Radio Operator Permit:

Do any of the following apply to you?

  • Is your vessel than 300 gross tons and required by law to carry a radio station?
  • Is your vessel greater than 20 meters in length and sailing on the Great Lakes?
  • Does your vessel carry more than six passengers for hire on the Great Lakes?
  • Is your vessel greater than eight meters in length and engaged in towing on the Great Lakes?
  • Does your vessel carry more than six passengers for hire in the open sea or any tidewater area
    of the United States?
  • Does your vessel operate radios on medium frequencies (MF) or high frequencies (HF)?

If you answered yes to any of the above, then you are required to have a Marine Radio Operator Permit.

Qualifications

To qualify, you must:

  • Be a legal resident of (or otherwise eligible for employment in) the United States; and
  • Be able to receive and transmit spoken messages in English; and
  • Pass a written and/or telegraphy examination as described below.

To get your Marine Radio Operator Permit you must pass the FCC Element 1 exam, which covers basic radio law and operating practice with which every maritime radio operator should be familiar. To pass, you must correctly answer at least 18 out of 24 questions.

If you desire the Ship Radar Endorsement for this license, you must complete the FCC Element 8 exam.

Term of License

A Marine Radio Operator Permit is issued for the holder’s lifetime.