The ACMA

Radio

Marine, amateur and CB radio

Marine radio qualifications

All marine radio users, except those operating 27MHz maritime radio stations, must be qualified.

A Certificate of Proficiency or Statement of Attainment shows that the holder has the skill to operate certain types of radios.

Five different certificates of proficiency and one certificate of endorsement are issued to operators of marine radios:  

  • Long Range Operator Certificate of Proficiency (LROCP) 
  • Short Range Operator Certificate of Proficiency (SROCP)
  • Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) General Operators Certificate of Proficiency (GOCP)
  • GMDSS First-Class Radio Electronic Certificate (1st-Class REC)
  • GMDSS Second-Class Radio Electronic Certificate (2nd-Class REC) and
  • Marine Satellite Communications Endorsement (Satcom)

Note: A new qualification—The Australian Waters Qualification (AWQ) has just been introduced. This new qualification is suitable for marine radio users who operate VHF marine radios in Australian Territorial Waters only.  (Australian Territorial Waters are defined as all waters up to 12 nautical miles from the Australian coastline.) 

What qualification do I need?

This depends on the type of equipment carried on your vessel: 

Equipment carried on vessel

Minimum operator qualification

VHF, MF/HF and Inmarsat satellite radiocommunications equipment fitted in accordance with the requirement of the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention and the Australian Navigation Act 2012

GOCP

VHF marine radiotelephony ONLY*

LROCP or SROCP or AWQ+

VHF marine radiotelephony* plus MF/HF marine radiotelephony*

LROCP

VHF marine radiotelephony* plus Inmarsat A, B or C satellite communications

LROCP with Satcom or SROCP with Satcom

MF/HF marine radiotelephony* plus Inmarsat A, B or C satellite equipment or VHF marine radiotelephony* plus MF/HF marine radiotelephony* plus Inmarsat A, B or C satellite equipment

LROCP with Satcom

Inmarsat A, B or C satellite equipment ONLY

LROCP with Satcom or SROCP with Satcom

27 MHz marine radio commercial equipment ONLY

No qualification required

* With or without digital selective calling (DSC) facilities. Note: Satcom is not required for operators using Inmarsat-M equipment or Inmarsat-C equipment that only supports the operation of a vessel monitoring system.

+ If only operating within Australian Territorial Waters 

Does anyone else need a certificate?

Yes. Operators of maritime coast stations must also possess a certificate of proficiency: 

Type of coast station (ACMA licensing options)

Qualification

Major coast A* or B*

GOCP or GMDSS 1st-Class REC or GMDSS 2nd-Class REC

Limited coast* – where HF equipment is fitted (irrespective of whether VHF or 27 MHz is also fitted)

LROCP

Limited coast* – where VHF or 27 MHz equipment is fitted (but HF is not fitted)

LROCP or SROCP

Limited coast* – where Inmarsat A, B or C satellite equipment is fitted

LROCP with Satcom or SROCP with Satcom

* With or without digital selective calling (DSC) facilities. Note: Satcom is not required for operators using Inmarsat-M equipment or Inmarsat-C equipment that only supports the operation of a vessel monitoring system.

Operator qualifications

VHF and MF/HF marine radio equipment and Inmarsat (A, B, C) Satellite communications equipment carried on board a vessel must be under the control of a qualified operator at all times. All coast stations must also be under the control of a qualified operator.

Long Range Operator Certificate of Proficiency (LROCP) - covers the operation of both VHF and MF/HF equipment.

Short Range Operator VHF Certificate of Proficiency (SROCP) - only covers the operation of VHF equipment.

Australian Waters Qualification (AWQ)—only covers the operation of VHF marine radio equipment within Australian Territorial Waters.

Marine Satellite Communications Endorsement (Satellite Endorsement) - may be added if the use of Inmarsat equipment is required.

Inmarsat-C equipment that only supports the operation of a vessel monitoring system does not require operator qualifications.

Many TAFEs and marine organisations offer courses leading to examination for the LROCP, SROCP and AWQ. These courses are not compulsory.

The examination for the Satellite Endorsement should follow conclusion of an approved course of study, including practical instruction in the use of Inmarsat communications equipment.

The Australian Maritime College (AMC) provides the marine examination and certificate service on behalf of the ACMA.

Operators of a Ship station class C or a Major coast station are required to hold a GMDSS General Operators Certificate of Proficiency (GOCP) issued by AMSA.

More information 

My certificate is not mentioned

You are still legally qualified to operate a marine radio if you hold another marine radio certificate of proficiency such as: 

  • Marine Radio Operators Certificate of Proficiency (MROCP)
  • Marine Radio Operators VHF Certificate of Proficiency (MROVCP)
  • Restricted Radiotelephony Operators Certificate of Proficiency (RROCP)
  • Third Class Commercial Operators Certificate of Proficiency (3rd COCP)

You may need to obtain a Satcom endorsement if you are operating certain types of marine satellite equipment.

Why do I need to be qualified? 

The best reason for fitting a marine radio to a vessel and using it responsibly is its potential to save lives.

It is important that:  

  • you know distress and safety procedures
  • you know how to respond to an emergency call
  • your messages are understood and others know how to respond

In an emergency, knowledge of distress and safety procedures assists everyone involved in the rescue.

Marine radiocommunications can also provide a variety of services to small vessels including: 

  • weather and navigational information

The more you know about the operation of marine radios, the more benefit you'll have from yours.

What is the legal basis for the requirement to be qualified?

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) radio regulations require that: 

  • marine radios using international maritime frequencies are controlled by an operator holding a certificate of proficiency.
  • staff on duty at coast stations and coast Earth stations are properly qualified to operate these stations efficiently

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), under the Radiocommunications Act 1992, requires operators of marine radios on vessels and at maritime coast stations (other than those operating solely on 27 MHz frequencies) to hold a relevant Australian marine radio operator's qualification or an equivalent overseas qualification.

What are the penalties? 

A person operating a VHF marine radio without holding an appropriate qualification or being under the supervision of an appropriately qualified person, may be breaching the Radiocommunications Act. Penalties include significant fines and imprisonment.

What does being under the supervision of an appropriately qualified person mean?

This means that the appropriately qualified person supervising, must be in the immediate vicinity of the operator and radio so that they can step in and take over if necessary. 

Who issues the qualifications? 

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) is responsible for the issue of GOCPs and RECs. AMSA has accredited a number of educational institutions and registered training organisations to conduct examinations to test candidates at the conclusion of a relevant course of instruction.

LROCPs, SROCPs and Satcoms are issued by the Australian Maritime College (AMC) on behalf of the ACMA.

The AMC also approves invigilators to conduct examinations, on its behalf, for these qualifications. Except in the case of Satcoms, examinations may also be undertaken at the AMC. Satcom examinations can only be held after relevant training by an educational organisation.

For the AWQ, a statement of attainment is issued by any registered training organization which has included the AWQ on its scope. A list of RTOs is here.

How do I get an LROCP, SROCP or Satcom? 

If you are interested in obtaining an LROCP or SROCP, you may undertake private study using the: 

  • Marine Radio Operators Handbook
  • Marine VHF Radio Operators Handbook

available from the AMC website.

Colleges of technical and further education, volunteer marine safety organisations and marine training schools also provide courses in marine radio proficiency.

Examinations for Satcom can only be held after relevant training by an educational organisation.

Once you have passed all the requisite subjects for a particular grade of certificate, you may apply to the AMC for a certificate.

LROCPs, SROCPs and Satcoms are issued on presentation of the results of approved examinations to the AMC. There is a fee for certificates and Satcoms.

Marine Radio Operators Handbooks

The Marine Radio Operators Handbook and Marine VHF Radio Operators Handbook are comprehensive guides to marine communications and operating procedures.

The Handbooks are essential reading for every boat owner in Australia. It is highly recommended that a copy of the relevant handbook be carried on board all vessels. Under Commonwealth legislation, some vessels are also required to carry AMSA’s GMDSS Operators Handbook.

How old do I have to be to hold a marine certificate?  

Certificate of proficiency

Minimum prescribed age in years

Long Range Certificate (LROCP)

16

Short Range Certificate (SROCP) 

16

Satcom

16

GMDSS GOCP

18

GMDSS 1st-Class REC

18

GMDSS 2nd-Class REC

18

What about my overseas certificate?

If you wish to operate a marine radio in Australia using your overseas certificate, you should submit it to the ACMA for assessment.

You cannot obtain an Australian certificate on the basis of your overseas certificate. For example, you cannot use a New Zealand certificate to apply to the AMC for an Australian LROCP or SROCP.

Other Government agencies links:

State and Territory Maritime Authorities: 

More information 

GOCP or a 1st or 2nd Class REC:
contact AMSA Ship Operations and Qualifications on telephone (02) 6279 5908 or email.

LROCP, SROCP or Satcom:
contact the AMC on telephone 1300 365 262 or email.

Details of the administrative arrangements for the marine radio certificates of proficiency are set out in the “Australian Maritime College Business Rules for Management of Marine Radio Certification” on the AMC website.

Last updated: 23 May 2017

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