MMSI VHF Number in the Bahamas

probate-rprobate-r Posts: 310 Deckhand
Hi Guys,
Looking for some guidance on MMSI numbers for when we travel to the Bahamas. I purchased a used boat this summer and have been updating electronics this Fall. I (naively) was not aware of the MMSI number that is programmed into modern VHF radios until I just put in a new radio and it asked me for my number. So now I'm looking at the MMSI number that you can get through BoatUS for free, but they say you can't use them in international waters. Rather, you have to apply to the FCC and get a FCC issued MMSI number, as well as a ships radio license (which together I believe run a little over $200). While I will use our boat well over 95% in US waters, we do plan on taking trips over the the Bahamas each summer. As such, is it worth going through the paperwork with the FCC rather than just applying online through BoatUS? Anyone ever been asked about their MMSI number in the Bahamas?

Tight Lines,
Intrepid 370 - "My Favorite"


  • SlipkidSlipkid Posts: 241 Officer
    This comes up every once in a while. I think most of us just use the free Boat US numbers but there is always that guy that will say you can't do that. The issue is that the free numbers aren't shared internationally but I have a hard time believing the US Coast Guard isn't involved in most everything going on over there anyway. At any rate, if something really bad happens I'm activating the EPIRB asap.
    2003 Viking 45C
  • INTREPID377INTREPID377 Posts: 3,737 Captain
    The issue isn't so much with the MMSI. You're required to have an FCC License to use a VHF in the Bahamas. It's because of that requirement that Boat US isn't allowed to issue an MMSI for international use.

    Now, from a practical matter, many/most folks making occasional trips to the Bahamas and don't have a License. Further, having a License has no impact on the functionality of the MMSI. It's an encoded ID that is broadcast when you hit the Distress button. It will still be received, regardless.

    Lastly, cost aside, getting the License and MMSi can be done quickly on-line through the FCC website. Probably will take you less than 30 minutes.
Sign In or Register to comment.