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Old 06-07-2017, 20:09   #1
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How to get MMSI for US boat with no US address

Objective: to get an MMSI
Problem: no US address
Solution: ???

I need to an MMSI for a US boat for all the usual reasons, but especially for AIS and EPIRB. But I have a problem: Like millions of other Americans who don't live in the USA (many living permanently on their boats), I don't have a US address. That's no obstacle to having a US-documented boat (which is based on citizenship, not address). But for some reason the FCC, which issues MMSI numbers for US boats outside the US, insists on having a US address. They won't budge and just keep repeating that I need an address to which the US postal service will deliver (by this I think they mean a USPS person has to actually deliver, not do it via a foreign postal service).

This is a significant safety issue that the FCC is oblivious to. It makes no sense that one can document a boat with the Coast Guard without being in the USA but not get an MMSI for that same boat. Alas, the bureaucracy always wins.

Has anyone else faced this problem, and more specifically have you found a creative way around it?
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Old 06-07-2017, 20:25   #2
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Re: How to get MMSI for US boat with no US address

I can't speak for your specific situation but it's the same for Ham radio licenses; many organizations let you use their mailing addr for this; if you can't find one send me a PM and I'll help out; all you need is a place to get mail; SBI works fine for example
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Old 06-07-2017, 20:41   #3
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Re: How to get MMSI for US boat with no US address

I have done the FCC thing twice, once for me and once for a family member. Since we both have addresses I didn't pay any attention to any reference to "must" have address issues BUT we both got the FCC station and personal licenses including call sign and MMSI all by email. Been close to two years for me and I have yet to get anything from the FCC in my snail mail box.

So, use a cousin's address or your best friend from the first grade or whatever and you'll probably get everything by email and who cares what address you use.
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Old 07-07-2017, 01:35   #4
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Re: How to get MMSI for US boat with no US address

Thanks Skipmac and Scott for the replies. Yah, I think I'll have to use a friend's USA address. It would be a waste of time trying to convince the FCC that their policy makes no sense. I think the Coast Guard would be appalled if it knew about this obstacle to getting an MMSI and thus an obstacle to having an EPIRB, DSC, etc. After all, the Coast Guard is happy to document boats even if their owners don't have an address in the USA (provided that they are Americans).
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Old 07-07-2017, 09:29   #5
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Re: How to get MMSI for US boat with no US address

What about a Mail Service?

The best mail services for cruisers | Sailing Totem
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Old 07-07-2017, 10:21   #6
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Re: How to get MMSI for US boat with no US address

I think there is the same problem for bank accounts, insurance policies, etc.
As the keepers of the family farm, we often used to serve as the mail drop for various mobile far-flung relatives. If no family connections, one can retain an agent or a lawyer to handle state-side affairs. I think some former cruisers have mail-forwarding services? Even lower on the food chain are mail drops that have a street address but are just a front for a bunch of private PO boxes.
Many of my business clients addresses trace back to these PMBs. I make sure that they pay in advance. One that I had to go chasing after turned out to list their corporate headquarters as a meeting room in a Holiday Inn. :/
Oh...that reminds me... one of those PMB types credit card payment bounced yesterday. *sigh*.
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Old 07-07-2017, 11:06   #7
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Re: How to get MMSI for US boat with no US address

The "no address" issue has come up with me on a few occasions. I currently use a UPS store box which everyone accepts except certain government entities. Maybe I am cynical, but they really don't like not being able to track you. The latest issue was with a local cop who is determined I have to change my DL and vehicle info over to local address, even though I explained to him I am temporary in the area. So, I "moved in" with my in-laws. All government issues go there, everything else goes to the UPS box.
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Old 07-07-2017, 11:16   #8
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Re: How to get MMSI for US boat with no US address

^That's probably a tax issue. I ran into that several times during college years, temporarily living in other states. Only high-vehicle-tax states made an issue of it. WA cops used to patrol apartment complexes, looking for out-of-state plates. Unfortunately, when I finally gave in and switched, I lost my motorcycle and farm truck driving endorsements. Turned out to be a tremendous hassle. In fact, rumor has it that WA is now harassing boat owners over the format of their HINs, due to some illiterate bureaucrats fever dream. All in all, probably best to avoid WA addresses.
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Old 07-07-2017, 11:37   #9
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Re: How to get MMSI for US boat with no US address

TK-
"a local cop who is determined I have to change my DL and vehicle info over to local address," As I understand it, every US state requires your DL and vehicle registration--AND TITLE--to be changed if you are in the state for more than a short period, typically 90 days. Sometimes 90 consecutive days, sometimes 90 days within a one-year period, etc. The way they count periods and the number of days varies--but the requirement doesn't.
There are also other conditions, i.e. if you bring your car into a state and are employed there full-time, you may have as little as 10 days to make the change. And the change of title may be very expensive. The laws are often ignored, but the fines and penalties can be significant. It is not just a tax issue. And of course, your insurer needs to be notified, your rates will change as well. (You might find your insurance policy has fine print about a change of address being required if your car is regularly at another address for 90 days as well, or your insurance is void.)

skip-
The FCC made some formal policy changes 2(3?5?) years ago about paperwork. A number of things like ham radio licenses are NO LONGER ISSUED ON PAPER unless maybe you politely beg for it. Way back in the 1980's I remember seeing some article that pointed out the cost of a simple business letter (paper, envelope, stamp, typewriter, desk and chair, typist, inventory of paper and envelopes, lights, heat, etc.) was actually more than $5, which could buy much for two back then. So with a little inflation...imagine what it must cost the FCC to send out a simple license these days!
They figure, sooner or later, the licensee can always go someplace, log online, and print out a copy of their own if they really want one.
Of course NOAA really is diligent about sending out EPIRB stickers every year, they want to make sure someone really is still out there. Sometimes there's logic we just don't see.
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Old 07-07-2017, 12:16   #10
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Re: How to get MMSI for US boat with no US address

In my humble opinion you are pissing into the wind. I respectfully suggest that you stop. Get a mail address either c/o friend or relative or one of the many commercial mailbox operations. Much of the world still demands more than an E-mail address.
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Old 07-07-2017, 12:26   #11
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Re: How to get MMSI for US boat with no US address

We us St Brendans Isle and have registered 2 boat there no probs, also our cars and bank billing address drivers licences are our actual residential address, also in Florida anyway, but if we move out of State or back to UK we will revert to using SBI for all. SBI have a useful service to intercept boat registration renewals, pay them on your behalf and charge to your account with them. Excellent service, Thanks Scott.

PS our fully international MMSI and ship's call signs were on the SBI address. You can get a USA only MMSi via BoatU, but the fully international ones have to be issued via USCG and FCC .
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Old 07-07-2017, 19:32   #12
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Re: How to get MMSI for US boat with no US address

It looks like many folks have address issues with governments. It's an especially problematic thing for cruisers, at least those who have no ties ashore in the USA.

Getting back to the FCC/MMSI issue, what's troubling is that an American cruising the far reaches of the planet can quite easily document a boat with the US Coast Guard -- they require citizenship only -- but the FCC, which decides whether one gets an MMSI, upon which all the safety alerting is based, absolutely requires a US address (and, at least in my case, so far has not asked for any proof of citizenship, which the Coast Guard does ask for). It's a case of officials not understanding the real world. Nothing new there, and not likely to change -- but at least a bit frustrating, and as I said potentially life-threatening (one is inclined to give up trying to get an MMSI). It's much easier to do this stuff in some other countries, particularly those that use their yacht registries as sources of income.
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Old 08-07-2017, 13:40   #13
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Re: How to get MMSI for US boat with no US address

Bear in mind that the FCC are required to drink the ITU's KoolAide, and other foreign brews. I wouldn't be surprised to find there was an international requirement involved here, or interpreted here, and that the FCC had no choice in the matter.

The FCC offers many licenses for operating equipment in the US, regardless of whether the operator is a citizen, guest, or alien invader. That's the way Congress wrote the laws.

The USCG doesn't care about citizenship either--except when that same Congress wrote laws that require them to.

So, blame Congress for signing the treaties that require ITU and other international compliance. The peons in the administrative agencies don't get a voice in the matter.

Need a mailing address? Here, use this one:
PO Box 37012
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012

That's the Smithsonian. Ask them to archive your mail as a national treasure.
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Old 08-07-2017, 16:37   #14
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Re: How to get MMSI for US boat with no US address

Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
Bear in mind that the FCC are required to drink the ITU's KoolAide, and other foreign brews. I wouldn't be surprised to find there was an international requirement involved here, or interpreted here, and that the FCC had no choice in the matter.

The FCC offers many licenses for operating equipment in the US, regardless of whether the operator is a citizen, guest, or alien invader. That's the way Congress wrote the laws.

The USCG doesn't care about citizenship either--except when that same Congress wrote laws that require them to.

So, blame Congress for signing the treaties that require ITU and other international compliance. The peons in the administrative agencies don't get a voice in the matter.

Need a mailing address? Here, use this one:
PO Box 37012
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012

That's the Smithsonian. Ask them to archive your mail as a national treasure.
Well, yes, Congress probably does deserve some of the blame (which I guess means voters, too?). The law says that the FCC needs an address to which the US postal service can deliver. The FCC interprets that to mean that the USPS must be able to put their correspondence into the mailbox (and yes, it can be a P.O. Box of any kind - no need for a physical address!). But of course USPS can send stuff all over the world. So I see it as more of a bureaucratic problem with the way that the FCC interprets the law.

Regarding ITU, many other countries don't do it the same way. Plenty of them will sell you a full-blown flag registration regardless of your address. I've done it before. So I don't think we can blame the ITU for this. I think it's just a simple case of a government agency not thinking about the real world, and specifically the safety implications of its procedures. At least that's my interpretation of what they are doing (or you might call it my opinion).

Anyway, I'll wait to see whether my $220 will be adequate to get the MMSI. Their online system happily accepted that!
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Old 16-07-2017, 16:32   #15
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Re: How to get MMSI for US boat with no US address

Public service announcement...

For anyone traveling the world who plans to get your EPIRB reprogrammed with a new USA MMSI: The US no longer accepts MMSI-based EPIRB numbers, but knowledge of this change in US rules has not reached everywhere, including some GMDSS experts overseas. Make sure you are getting the correct number programmed into your device. It must be acceptable to NOAA's database. (Anyone in the USA buying a new EPIRB can ignore this.)

The above assumes that you want to register your EPIRB properly so that rescue services know who they're looking for. Those services do want to know who you are. If you aren't concerned about such things, just activate the EPIRB and pray that the alert is taken seriously...
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