Canadian VHF Radio License Correction

April 3, 2011

Jim Laursen, the helpful Spectrum Operations Manager at the Industry Canada office in Victoria, advises us that the Waggoner’s information for Canadian vessels traveling to the U.S. is incorrect. The Waggoner says Canadian vessels don’t need a station license in the U.S. We got that information several years ago from a source that seemed reliable, but for some reason it isn’t in our file. According to Jim, “ITU regs state that entering the waters of a foreign administration where no reciprocal agreement exists (that includes the USA)…then the vessel must carry a radio authorization from its home country.” To clarify, the U.S. and Canada do not have a reciprocal agreement about VHF radio licenses.


Jim adds, “I agree that licenses are not routinely checked on either side of the border. My advice to boaters is that it only takes one overzealous official, or a change in security measures due to a new or perceived threat, to make it a good idea to have all paperwork on hand and ready to present to Coast Guard, border officials, Transport Canada, RCMP or local authorities on either side of that imaginary 49th!! It's cheap insurance that someone doesn't detain or hassle you and put a crimp in an otherwise enjoyable holiday. I believe that having all paperwork in order is even more important should the boater be venturing farther afield than the USA. Some other countries do not enjoy the relationship that Canada and the USA enjoy. You never know what to expect in those cases. Best to have all that is required so they can't find fault—or reason to detain.”

Just so you know, our little ship Surprise has its VHF radio station license, so we’re completely legal when we take the boat to Canada. Canadian boats coming to the U.S. should get their station licenses as well.

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