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Maritime Mobile Service Identities (MMSIs) and Maritime Identities (MIs)

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What you need to know about MMSIs and MIs

What is an MMSI?

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A Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) is a nine-digit number, similar to a cell phone number, that identifies your vessel or boat. It’s programmed into your digital maritime radio, and used to contact other vessels directly, such as boats, and may also send a signal for help in an emergency.

What is an MI?

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A Maritime Identity (MI) is a nine-digit number, similar to a cell phone number, that identifies you as an individual. It’s programmed into your personal portable maritime radio and is not associated with a specific vessel, such as a boat. Like an MMSI, it’s used to communicate with other vessels, boats and coast stations, and may also send a signal for help in an emergency.

Are MMSIs and MIs important?

Yes! If you experience an emergency on the water, your radio signal alerts the Coast Guard as well as nearby vessels and boats. Your MMSI will identify your vessel or boat, and your MI will identify you.

What’s the difference between an MMSI and an MI?

An MMSI identifies a specific vessel or boat. It’s programmed into your vessel or boat’s digital maritime radio.

An MI identifies a specific individual or person. It’s programmed into your personal portable maritime radio.

Did you know?

You can look up MMSIs assigned to Canadian vessels and coast stations in our National Maritime Information Database. Search by vessel or station name, vessel owner name, vessel tonnage or emergency contact information.

Applying for an MMSI or MI

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Who can apply for an MMSI or MI?

Anyone with a Canadian-owned or Canadian-registered boat can apply for an MMSI. Any Canadian or permanent resident who plans to use their portable maritime radio on different watercrafts can apply for an MI.

Do I need a radio licence to apply for an MMSI?

You do not need a radio licence to apply for an MMSI if you are staying in Canadian waters, however, if you’re leaving Canadian waters, you do need one. Once you apply for a radio licence and an MMSI, the MMSI will appear on your radio licence. To apply for your radio licence, please refer to the CPC-2-3-07, Obtaining Identities in the Maritime Mobile Service document, then complete IC-3020.

How much does it cost to obtain an MMSI or an MI?

There is no fee to apply for an MMSI or MI.

Can I use the same MMSI on more than one radio?

Yes, you can use the same MMSI for all radios on your vessel or boat. However, if you have any crafts on board with their own dedicated radios (e.g. lifeboats), each craft needs a different MMSI. To apply for craft MMSIs, complete Form C.

Can I use the MMSI that came with my boat?

If you purchased a boat that already has a Canadian MMSI, you can use it. However, in order to use it, you’ll need to update your contact information.

If you purchased a boat registered in another country that comes with a radio that has a foreign MMSI programmed in the radio, you cannot operate that radio before changing the programmed MMSI to a Canadian MMSI.

How do I apply for a new MMSI or MI?

  1. If this is a new application, determine whether you want to apply for an MMSI or MI. If you need help with this, see the MMSI or MI sections below.
  2. Select the appropriate form. If you need help with this, see the Which form do I need? section below.
  3. Complete the form, making sure to select the option “Assign a new MMSI or MI number”. Once you submit the form, you will receive a copy of your application as confirmation of submission.
  4. We will review your form to ensure it is complete. Incomplete forms will be returned to you with an explanation.
  5. You will be issued an MMSI or MI once we have processed your request.

For detailed application procedures, refer to the CPC-2-3-07, Obtaining Identities in the Maritime Mobile Service document.

How do I update my information?

  1. If you’re updating your information, select the same type of form you used when you first applied for an MMSI or MI. For example, if you selected Form AB for your application, you would select Form AB again. If you need help with this, see the Which form do I need? section below.
  2. Complete the form, making sure to select the option “Modify an existing MMSI or MI number”. Once you submit the form, you will receive a copy of your application as confirmation of submission.
  3. We will review your form to ensure it is complete. Incomplete forms will be returned to you with an explanation.
  4. The information related to your MMSI or MI will be updated once we have processed your request.

For detailed application procedures, refer to the CPC-2-3-07, Obtaining Identities in the Maritime Mobile Service document.

Don’t get locked out!

All radios lock automatically after a certain number of entries. Refer to your radio’s manual for more information.

Have you moved?

Avoid the wrong person being contacted in the event of an emergency. If you’ve moved, you must update your contact information.

You should apply for an MMSI if:

  • Your radio is associated with your boat
  • You’re travelling into international waters
  • You have a lifeboat associated with your ship
  • Your vessel is communicating with a group of vessels
  • You’re a coast station
  • You’re requesting an MMSI for a search and rescue aircraft
  • You’re using approved Aids to Navigation (AtoN)

You should apply for an MI if:

  • You’re going to use a personal portable radio on different watercrafts such as a kayak or a canoe
  • You want to register a pre-programmed device such as a Man Overboard Device (MOB), an Automatic Identification System Search and Rescue Transponder (AIS-SART) or an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB-AIS)

Which form do I need?

MMSI forms

Form AB: Ship with VHF/DSC only, unlicensed or licensed radio

  • Not licensed: If your radio is installed on a ship and you’re staying in Canadian waters, you do not need a radio licence. Complete Form AB and choose the option “Not Licensed”. 
  • Licensed: If your radio is installed on a ship and you might leave Canadian waters, you need to apply for a radio licence. Please refer to the CPC-2-3-07, Obtaining Identities in the Maritime Mobile Service document and complete form IC-3020. Then complete Form AB and choose the option “Licensed”. 
    • Visit the Licensing exemptions page for more information about radio licensing requirements for boats.

Form C: Craft associated with a parent ship (lifeboats, life rafts)

If your ship has a lifeboat with its own radio, it requires its own MMSI. Complete Form C.

Note: Your parent ship must have its own MMSI before you can apply for an MMSI for your craft.

Form D: Ship station group

If you are part of a group of ships that need to be contacted all at once with one call, complete Form D. Only one person in your group can apply for the MMSI. That person must distribute the number to the rest of the group. Examples of a ship group are a yacht club or a fishing company.

Note: Before completing Form D, each ship in the group must already have its own MMSI. 

Form E: Coast station

If you are part of a company with a large fleet of ships – for example, a fishing company – and you want to install a coast station to communicate with your ship stations, you need to apply for a radio licence. Please refer to the CPC-2-3-07, Obtaining Identities in the Maritime Mobile Service document and complete form IC-3020. Then complete Form E.

Form F: Search and rescue (SAR) aircraft

If you are part of the Coast Guard or a search and rescue aircraft that communicates with ships and coast stations, complete Form F.

Form G: AIS aids to navigation (AtoN)

If you have approval from the Canadian Coast Guard to use an Aids to Navigation (AtoN) or Automatic Identification System (AIS) device, complete Form G.

Note: You must have approval from the Canadian Coast Guard for your AtoN device before submitting Form G. Please see the AIS AtoN MMSI section of the CPC-2-3-07, Obtaining Identities in the Maritime Mobile Service document.

MI forms

Form I: Hand-held VHF transceivers with DSC and GNSS not associated with a ship station or vessel

If you are registering a portable hand-held radio that is not installed on a specific boat, complete Form I.

Note: Your MI can only be used in the maritime mobile service. It cannot be used on land, such as when hiking or skiing.

Form J: Maritime identity registration for various portable devices

If your portable radio has a pre-programmed MI, complete Form J. Examples of devices with pre-programmed MIs include Automatic Identification System Search and Rescue Transponder (AIS-SART) devices, Man Overboard (MOB) devices, or Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB-AIS) devices.

Having trouble with our online forms?

Please contact your District Office so we can assist you.

Cancellation form

When do I cancel my MMSI or MI?

Cancel your MMSI or MI when:

  • You have a change of ownership (either of the boat or radio equipment)
  • You sell the portable radio device
  • You simply wish to cancel your MMSI or MI

To cancel your MMSI or MI, complete the cancellation form.

Selling your boat

Selling your boat with radio equipment

If you have sold your boat with the radio equipment and MMSI, do not change the MMSI number. The buyer must update their contact information by completing Form AB.

Selling your boat without radio equipment

If you have sold your boat without the radio equipment and MMSI, you must update your information.

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For further questions, or if you have lost your MMSI or MI, please contact the District Office nearest to you.

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