DSC Handheld FAQ's

This FAQ section answers several questions including the ownership and registration of DSC handheld radios. If there is a question that isn’t covered on this page, please get in touch with us via the ‘Contact’ section of this website.

No. OFCOM share MMSI details with the MCA to assist their search and rescue operations. OFCOM will share MMSIs for individual handheld DSC radios with the MCA in the same manner

You must surrender your Ship Portable Radio Licence. Until you do, OFCOM cannot transfer the MMSI to the new owner. If the new owner makes a DSC distress call, the MCA will always respond but it may affect their efficiency if they don’t have the correct contact details.

As a Handheld DSC is licensed under a Ship Portable Radio Licence, you can use it on any ship within UK territorial sea with the permission of the skipper. You must hold at least the Short Range Certificate to use Handheld DSC, just like any VHF DSC radio.

There are three reasons for this:

  • ATIS identification numbers relate to a ship, while the MMSI of Handheld DSC relates to the individual piece of equipment.
  • The Ship Portable Radio Licence is not valid beyond UK territorial sea and OFCOM do not issue an international call sign with that licence, so the hand held VHF DSC cannot be used anywhere in continental Europe.
  • Other countries may not authorise Handheld DSC (or may not do so in the same way the UK does). So, they could regard a Handheld DSC as being illegal under their legislation, even if it is switched to ATIS working. This could result in enforcement action by the authorities overseas.

In common with other ship radio apparatus, Handheld DSC may be used in UK inland waterways. However, it must not be used overseas, for example for ATIS in mainland Europe.

You must have a separate Ship Portable Radio Licence for each Handheld DSC radio. This is because each individual radio is given a separate identity. The Handheld DSC must not be used outside UK territorial sea...so; it cannot be covered by a normal Ship Radio Licence, as this does not impose any territorial restrictions. If you already have a Ship Portable Radio Licence, you should ensure that it includes Hand held DSC. If it does not, you can change it online, free of charge.