SAR-IF: The Search and Rescue Interagency Frequency

Terms and Conditions: Access to Industry Canada’s National Simplex VHF Channel (149.080 MHz) by the Search and Rescue Community

Issue 1

Spectrum Management and Telecommunications

Posted on Industry Canada website: August 22, 2013
Note: Footnotes 1 and 2 added in May 2014


The following outlines the amended terms and conditions, effective September 2, 2011, under which the National Search and Rescue Secretariat and affiliated agencies may share use of Industry Canada's national frequency 149.080 MHz. These terms and conditions do not replace the need for individual licences for radio stations used by various agencies or individuals involved in search and rescue activities.

For further information, please contact your local Industry Canada Spectrum Management office. A complete list of Industry Canada offices is provided in Radiocommunication Information Circular 66 (RIC-66), available at the following Internet web site:

Table of Contents

  1. Part 1 – Introduction
  2. Part 2 – Authorization Process
  3. Part 3 – Licence Conditions
  4. Annex A
  5. Annex B

Part 1 – Introduction

The purpose of this document is to set out the terms and conditions under which organizations involved in search and rescue (SAR) operations in Canada may be authorized to share Industry Canada’s national simplex VHF radiocommunication channel (149.080 MHz). This channel will be referred to as the SAR-IF channel (Search and Rescue Interagency Frequency).

The use of this channel will be to facilitate interagency radiocommunications during SAR operations where no other practical means exist. The frequency may also be used for SAR exercises, with prior notice to Industry Canada. The channel is not, however, intended to create or replace existing radiocommunications networks used by agencies, teams, or units for internal communications. SAR organizations making use of this frequency should be aware that while Industry Canada will take measures to minimize potential interference to SAR operations on this frequency, Industry Canada cannot guarantee that interference will not occur during actual SAR operations or when exercises are being conducted. The SAR users will accept this possibility.

Part 2 – Authorization Process

SAR agencies or individuals seeking authority to use this channel will be required to apply to Industry Canada for a new licence, or to amend their existing licence by adding this frequency to their current complement of radio frequency channels. Additional fees are required when this frequency is added to a base station licence. No additional fees are applicable when adding this frequency to existing mobile licences. Footnote 1

  1. The departments/agencies listed at Annex “A” may apply directly to Industry Canada for use of the SAR-IF national simplex VHF radiocommunication channel (149.080 MHz), through the normal application process.
  2. Those organizations listed in Annex “B”, and any other entities not listed in either Annex, that are interested in applying to Industry Canada for use of the SAR-IF channel must first obtain a letter of endorsement from their respective sponsoring organization, certifying the need for access to the SAR-IF channel.

While this frequency may be deployed in maritime and aeronautical situations (see Part 3, Licence Conditions for conditions), agencies doing so must be aware that the authority for this frequency is not included with maritime and aeronautical authorizations associated with the vessel or aircraft. Additional land mobile licensing is required.

Applications should be submitted to the appropriate Industry Canada District Office.

Part 3 – Licence Conditions

Notification for SAR Exercises.

In the case of planned exercises by the SAR community that might involve use of 149.080 MHz by participants, particularly in areas where Industry Canada maintains active base stations operating on 149.080 MHz, the provincial/territorial Ground Search and Rescue Council of Canada (GSARCC) representative, or designate, must advise the appropriate Industry Canada District Office 48 hours in advance of such exercises.

Aeronautical Use Within the Canada/US Coordination Zone.

Use of this frequency in aircraft is permissible on an itinerant basis, subject to the normal constraints imposed by Transport Canada with respect to the approval of the installation of radiocommunication equipment on board aircraft. Within the Canada/US Coordination Zone, use by aircraft is restricted to those times when the aircraft is operating below 1000’ above ground level (AGL). Footnote 2 The Coordination Zone is broadly defined as those Canadian lands and waters lying within 120 km of the United States border.

Configuration, Interoperability and Encryption.

The SAR-IF should be configured for narrowband FM modulation (11K0F3EJN) as a standard practice; particularly within urban areas and the Canada/US Coordination Zone.

If, however, the provincial/territorial search and rescue authority determines that wideband FM modulation (16K0F3EJN) is more likely to facilitate interoperability within its jurisdiction, a wideband configuration is permitted for the SAR-IF. This decision should be communicated to all current and potential SAR-IF users in the jurisdiction. Prior consultation with the appropriate Industry Canada Regional Office is strongly advised.

Radios equipped with a Continuous Tone-Coded Squelch System (CTCSS) must be set to a CTCSS tone of 156.7 Hz when transmitting and receiving on the SAR-IF channel. The SAR-IF channel shall not be used in an encryption mode unless all authorized users during a particular operation are in possession of the required equipment to monitor the transmission.

Users are also reminded that the VHF simplex frequency 149.080 MHz is analog, and therefore transmissions are not secure. General radiotelephone operating procedures outlined in RIC-22 (noted below) must be followed by all users, including standard phraseology and calling procedures, and use of the phonetic alphabet.

Other Applicable Standards and Specifications.

Other applicable standards and specifications applicable to the use of the SAR-IF include, but are not necessarily limited to:

Annex A

The Departments/Agencies authorized to submit direct applications to Industry Canada for use of the SAR-IF (149.080 MHz) for SAR purposes only are:

FEDERAL departments

  • Department of National Defence (DND) / Canadian Forces (CF)
  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) / Canadian Coast Guard (CCG)
  • Parks Canada (PC)
  • Public Safety Canada (PSC)
  • Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)
  • Transport Canada (TC)


  • Any emergency medical service (EMS)
  • Any municipal fire department
  • Any municipal, provincial, territorial, or First Nation police department
  • Provincial/Territorial Emergency Measures Organizations (EMOs)
  • Provincial/Territorial Fire Commissioners departments

Annex B

The proposed users of the SAR-IF who must first obtain a letter of endorsement from a sponsoring organization (Annex A) in order to apply to Industry Canada for use of the SAR-IF (149.080 MHz) for SAR purposes only are:

Proposed user and Sponsoring Organization
Proposed user Sponsoring organization
Amateur Radio operators working in support of SAR operations Appropriate Provincial/Territorial GSAR Council of Canada representative, or designate
Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary (CCGA) members Canadian Coast Guard
Civil Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA) members Canadian Forces
Ground SAR volunteer teams or organizations Appropriate Provincial/Territorial GSAR Council of Canada representative, or designate
Any private or commercial air or marine operator chartered by or under the control of one of the departments or agencies noted in Annex “A”, for the purpose of SAR training and response. Appropriate Annex “A” department or agency.
Any other municipal, provincial, or territorial entities not listed in Annex “A” Appropriate Provincial/Territorial GSAR Council of Canada representative, or designate
Any other federal entities not listed in Annex “A” National Search and Rescue Secretariat

Sample Letter

[Sponsoring Department/Agency address or letterhead]

[Sponsoring Department/Agency unique reference or file number]


Industry Canada – Spectrum
(Regional/District Office list & addresses)
Attn: Director

Dear Sir/Madam:

Re: Letter of Endorsement: Application for use of the SAR Interagency Frequency Industry Canada National VHF Simplex Frequency 149.080 MHz

With respect to the attached application for use of Industry Canada’s national simplex VHF radiocommunication channel (149.080 MHz), known as the SAR Interagency Frequency (SAR-IF), I wish to confirm that the organization or individual listed below:

Full Name of Organization:
(include Regional/National affiliation as well as local designation)
Contact Person & Title:
(should match name on licence application)
Base of Operations:
(City/Town, Prov/Terr)

is engaged in the provision of search and rescue services to the public, and therefore requires access to the frequency. The above-noted applicant has also received a copy of the SAR-IF Terms and Conditions issued by Industry Canada for use of frequency.

Thank you for your assistance in this regard.


[Name of Sponsoring Department/Organization/Agency]
[Address, Contact Telephone, email address]

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