Can someone direct me to a resource that shows etiquette, requirements, licenses, etc that are necessary regarding VHF usage for international paddling?

Obviously I am looking for Brazil and I found an Australian requirement for VHF licenses, but thought that some of our illustrious posters with Captains licenses woudl be able to get me to a point to start researching.



and yes i did google…

cruising guide?
You could look for a cruising guide for Brazil or the east coast of SA. That would likely have lots of advice for sailors traveling through the area, including practical stuff like dealing with the government for customs, rescue, etc. Try someplace online sellers like Landfall Navigation, or Paradise Cay Publishers.

Station and opertor license
Without getting into the license requirements in Brazil, it is my understanding that a voluntary vessel owned by a US citizen operating outside of domestic US waters can only use a VHF marine radio legally if it has a station license and the operator has an operator license. These licenses are basically obtained by simply filling out an application with the FCC. With these, you can communicate with other vessels in non-domestic waters and with foreign land marine stations. If being used only for emergencies, then nothing is necessary since anybody can use anything in an effort to save a life. My understanding is that international treaties govern this area and a license from the country in which your vessel will be operating is not required for marine radio usage so long as you have the appropriate station and operator license issued by the FCC.

You may want to check this out and related links:


That said and in spite of the casual attitude by many in the US, many bad things can happen when people operate radio equipment improperly and in other countries the right to operate radio transmitting equipment is subject to laws which are enforced. So double checking is not a bad idea and cruising guides should give the answers as previously suggested.

be careful with the “emergency” idea.
I know of one story of a cruising couple who were arrested and put on trial in a foreign country, simply for having a SSB radio on board their sailboat. I expect Brazil is more laid back than the southeast asian dictatorship where they were cruising, but still, it’s best not to make assumptions about the laws when visiting a foreign country. Just because you only plan to use it in an emergency doesn’t mean the law enforcement in Brazil will be willing to make an exception to whatever rules they may have regarding radio use.

everything you need to know

– Last Updated: Feb-19-09 1:04 PM EST –


Yes, HF SSB is tricky

– Last Updated: Feb-19-09 1:20 PM EST –

Some countries, especially in Asia, very strictly control HF radios and have draconian penalties for simply possessing them. Marine HF SSB radios may raise major suspicion in many areas by law enforcement.

Thanks all! NM