Licensing Exemptions

Licensing Exemptions of Ship and Aircraft Radio Stations

Questions and Answers

On March 17, 1999, Industry Canada published in the Canada Gazette an amendment to the Radiocommunication Regulations. This amendment provides for the exemption of "radio apparatus on board a ship or vessel" and "radio apparatus on board an aircraft" from the requirement to hold a radio licence.

The Questions and Answers below have been prepared to further elaborate on this initiative.

Aircraft Radio Station Licensing

Licensing Requirements

Do I need a licence for the aeronautical radio equipment on board my aircraft?

You will not require a licence if you meet both of the following criteria:

  • the aircraft is not operated in the sovereign airspace of a country other than Canada.
  • the radio equipment on board the aircraft is only capable of operating on frequencies that are allocated for aeronautical mobile communications or aeronautical radio navigation. You can verify whether the frequencies you use are in the aeronautical mobile band by referring to Regulation by Reference (RBR-1).

If you do not meet both of the above criteria, you will require a radio licence. You can contact your local Industry Canada office for more information. All of the Industry Canada offices can be found in RIC-66.

Does the licence exemption apply to everyone, including safety services and commercial operations?

Yes. As long as the exemption criteria is met, no radio licence is required. The exemption applies to all users who qualify, including government operations, safety services, and passenger aircraft.

Now that the aeronautical radio equipment on board my aircraft may be exempt from radio licensing, does my radio equipment still require to be approved for use in Canada?

Yes, the aeronautical radio equipment that you use on board your aircraft must meet the applicable standards for use in Canada.

Will airport radio equipment and other land-based radios which operate in the aeronautical mobile bands also be exempt from the requirement to hold a licence?

No, this equipment is not exempt. The exemption applies only to aeronautical radio equipment on board aircraft.

Is a licence required for portables or mobiles used for ground operations at an airport, if these radios operate in the aeronautical mobile bands?

Yes a licence is required. The exemption applies only to aeronautical radio equipment on board aircraft.

My aircraft is a hang glider, a balloon or an ultra-light. Do I require a radio licence?

As long as the exemption criteria is met, no radio licence is required.

However, if you operate on a frequency(ies) outside of the aeronautical radio bands as identified in RBR-1, you will require a radio licence. Please contact one of our Industry Canada offices as identified in RIC-66 for additional licensing information.

Station Identification

How should I identify my aircraft if I no longer require a radio licence?

You can continue to use the registration marks issued by Transport Canada.

How should I identify my hang glider, balloon or ultra-light if I no longer require a radio licence?

Ultra-lights and hot air balloons are issued registration marks by Transport Canada that are to be used for identification purposes. You can continue to use these marks as a means of identification.

Non-registered aircraft, such as hang gliders or other soaring craft, should use any reasonable method that will allow for the identification of their station. We suggest that you use "Hang glider surname" as a means of identification.

Certification

Do I still require a Radio Operator Certificate?

Yes. The Radio Operator Certificate is still a requirement for anyone who may be operating the aeronautical radio equipment, regardless of whether a radio licence is required.

How do I obtain a certificate?

Candidates for the Radio Operator Certificate must successfully complete an examination. The exam can be written in any Industry Canada office or with an examiner accredited by Industry Canada. You can contact your local Industry Canada office for more information RIC-66.

Ship Radio Station Licensing

Licensing Requirements

Do I need a licence for the marine radio equipment on board my vessel?

You will not require a licence if you meet both of the following criteria:

  • the vessel is not operated in the sovereign waters of a country other than Canada.
  • the radio equipment on board the vessel is only capable of operating on frequencies that are allocated for maritime mobile communications or marine radio navigation. You can verify whether the frequencies you use are in the maritime mobile band by referring to Regulation by Reference RBR-2.

If you do not meet both of the above criteria, you will require a radio licence. You can contact your local Industry Canada office for more information. All of the Industry Canada offices can be found in RIC-66.

Does the licence exemption apply to everyone, including safety services and commercial operations?

Yes. As long as the exemption criteria is met, no radio licence is required. The exemption applies to all users who qualify, including government operations, safety services, and passenger ships or vessels.

Will compulsorily fitted vessels still require a radio licence?

As long as the exemption criteria is met, no radio licence is required.

Will marina radio equipment and other land-based radios which operate in the maritime mobile bands also be exempt from the requirement of a licence?

No. Fixed base stations installed at, for example, marinas or yacht clubs will still require a radio licence. The exemption applies only to stations on board a ship or vessel.

Now that the marine radio equipment on board my ship may be exempt from radio licensing, does my radio equipment still require to be approved for use in Canada?

Yes, the marine radio equipment that you use on board your ship or vessel must meet the applicable standards for use in Canada.

If I use single-sideband (SSB) radio equipment on my vessel, will I require a licence?

If the frequencies used on SSB are in the maritime mobile band, no licence will be required. If outside this band, a licence will be required. You can verify whether the frequencies you use are in the maritime mobile band by referring to RBR-2.

If I have radar on board my ship, will I require a licence?

Most radar operate on frequencies contained within the maritime mobile band and therefore are exempt from licensing. However, you can verify if your radar operates within this band by referring to RBR-2.

I have a radio installed on board my vessel which operates on frequencies outside the maritime mobile band. Do I require a radio licence?

Yes, if your radio operates on frequencies outside the maritime mobile band, you do require a radio licence. You can contact your local Industry Canada office for more information RIC-66.

Portable Radios

I have a portable radio(s) which operates in the maritime mobile band that I use on board my vessel for communicating with my dingy or for docking, etc. Do I need a radio licence for it?

If you have one or more portables which operate in the maritime mobile band, and which meet the exemption criteria, a radio licence is not required. You can verify whether the frequencies you use are in the maritime mobile band by referring to RBR-2.

I use a portable radio on board my vessel that operates on frequencies outside the maritime mobile band. Do I require a radio licence?

Yes, if you use portable radios which operate on frequencies outside the maritime mobile band, you do require a radio licence. You can contact your local Industry Canada office for more information RIC-66.

I have a portable radio on board my vessel which operates in the maritime mobile band. Can I also use this on land?

The licensing exemption applies only to radio equipment used on board ships or vessels, therefore use of this equipment on land is prohibited. The intent of the maritime mobile bands is to provide safety communications to ships or vessels. Unless specifically authorized, the use of maritime radio equipment on land could have a serious impact on the effectiveness of this safety service.

Can I use maritime radio equipment on land or in my vehicle for personal use?

No, maritime radio equipment should not be operated on land or in vehicles for personal use. The intent of the maritime mobile bands is to provide safety communications to vessels. Operating this type of equipment on land could seriously impact the effectiveness of the maritime safety service.

In the case of marinas or yacht clubs, maritime radio equipment may be used on land for communicating with ships or vessels. Radios used for this type of operation will require a radio licence. You can contact your local Industry Canada office for more information RIC-66.

Station Identification

Will call signs still be issued?

Industry Canada will no longer be issuing radio licences for ships or vessels which meet the exemption criteria; therefore a call sign will no longer be assigned to these stations.

Ships or vessels which do not meet the exemption criteria will be issued a licence and a call sign by making application to their local Industry Canada office RIC-66.

If I was previously issued a call sign, but now meet the exemption criteria, can I continue to use my old call sign?

In accordance with the technical requirements for the operation of mobile stations in the maritime service as described in RBR-2, an exempted ship station must identify by using the name of the ship. The call sign previously issued to a ship station, now exempt from the requirement to hold a radio licence, is no longer valid and should not be used as a means of identification.

If call signs are not being issued, what should I use to identify myself when I use the radio on board my vessel?

In accordance with the technical requirements for the operation of mobile stations in the maritime service as described in RBR-2, an exempted ship station must identify by using the name of the ship. If desired, the operator may include additional words or characters, along with the name of the ship, for identification purposes.

Some ships or vessels, such as Kayaks, may not have a vessel name. Since some Kayak operators file sail plans with coast stations, and these sail plans are filed according to the operator's surname, we suggest you use "Kayak surname" as a means of identification. This will provide the coast station with an easy method of retrieving the information you have filed with them.

Certification

Do I still require a Radio Operator Certificate?

Yes. The Radio Operator Certificate is still a requirement for anyone who may be operating the maritime radio equipment, regardless of whether a radio licence is required.

How do I obtain a certificate?

Candidates for the Radio Operator Certificate must successfully complete an examination. The exam can be written in any Industry Canada office or with an examiner accredited by Industry Canada. Your local boating association may be able to provide you with more information, or you can contact your local Industry Canada office RIC-66.

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