There are two types of MMSI numbers. Those issued by BoatUS and other private entities will work in the US, but they are not entered into the international database. If you go abroad, you must obtain BOTH a station license
for your boat, and an operator's license for every person who is to operate transmitting equipment
(like an SSB).
IMHO, they've really confused things. What could have been very simple has been made quite complicated.
What to do?
If you contemplate EVER going abroad...even to Canada
or the Bahamas
...or if you contemplate talking to a non-US vessel while still in US waters....then, I'd suggest you go directly for the station license and operators license. They will issue you a MMSI number at the same time. If you do this, be sure to check all the boxes for types of equipment
, even if you don't have it aboard. This will ensure that you don't have to make another application later (and pay the healty fee). I believe the cost is around $140.
The FCC-issued MMSI number can then be entered into your VHF
. Many VHF
radios allow you to enter a MMSI number only twice...so if you were to have one issued by Boat US, then had to change that to enter one issued by the FCC, and you made a mistake, you'd have to send the radio
back to a dealer or the factory. A real pain in the butt and stupid, stupid, stupid public policy IMO.
The station license and operators license will then allow you to use any type of transmitting equipment aboard anywhere in the world....VHF, HF/SSB, radar
, AIS, EPIRB
, etc., etc.