Articles: Cruising

Your MMSI Number: What You Need To Know

MMSI numbers are, like a phone number, a unique identifier for your boat. It should be noted that it's important to properly register your MMSI number. In Canada, when a boat changes hands, you must fill out an application to register the change of ownership with Industry Canada. This ensures that in the case of an emergency, the right people can be contacted as the application includes information on your vessel (useful for the Coast Guard) and emergency contact information.

When purchasing a boat, the registration for the MMSI needs to be changed to your name  for a used boat, or a new MMSI needs to be registered for a new boat. To check that your information is up to date, call your nearest Industry Canada district office. Here's a list of their contact information. Make sure you have your MMSI number on-hand before you call so they can look it up. If your MMSI starts with 316 it is Canada-registered, but not necessarily to you - definitely worth a check.

If your MMSI isn't registered to you, you need to fill out the form from Industry Canada. Most recreational boats will use the Annex A form. If you have radio equipment other than a VHF (ie. an SSB or ham radio), or require a radio license, you need to fill out Annex B from the same website.

As well, VHF radios and AIS systems include the ability to enter and store your MMSI. With an MMSI programmed in your VHF radio, you can quickly transmit distress calls or be contacted through Digital Selective Calling (DSC). This is an important safety feature that we discussed in June.

To learn more about MMSI and DSC, check out the Canadian Coast Guard's website.

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