Get Your Marine Mobile Service Identity

Since there has been a little discussion this winter about marine VHF radios, I thought I would share the following on applying for your MMSI (Marine Mobile Service Identity) in Canada as a kayaker – it’s free.

First off, who cares?

MMSI2I know that the whole idea of getting out fishing is to get away from screens and google-devices, but some technology is simply invaluable.

DSC, or digital selective calling, is a relatively new technology (at least to the average Joe) that combines GPS, radio communication, and a type of messaging service.

In the case of an emergency, you need only hold your distress button for a few seconds for the Coast Guard and other vessels in the area to be aware that you need help. They also have your precise coordinates displayed on their screens, and the Coast Guard also knows who you are, the type of craft to look for, and even contact information for folks back on land. This is not a replacement for EPIRB/PLB, but would often be the best for us kayak fishers.

You can use DSC in everyday situations as well by calling a fishing partner by selecting them from a “contact list” just like you would on your phone. Your radio will communicate with the other and switch both of you to a working voice channel once answered without making any radio traffic. You can create groups as well…

Up until a few years ago, it simply wasn’t something that us kayakers would have been able to use, either because of cost or the fact that you needed to connect the radio with a separate GPS device. Now that there are combined handheld units and they retail for around the $230-$250 range, I think that the cost is justified over a refurbished unit without this technology.

Since we’re kayakers, the form to apply for your MMSI has a couple spots where you will not know what to enter. Other than that, I was pleasantly surprised how quickly I got through the whole process and I will say that the folks at Industry Canada were very helpful and nice.

So to make it nice and easy for anyone considering getting a DSC enabled radio and needing an MMSI, I have made the following reference:

Getting Your MMSI
Quick Guide for Canadian Kayak Anglers

1. Get your application form at one of the following links:
MMSI application  forms – most need Annex A for new #

MMSI Annexe

2. Print it and fill it out, or save the WPD version (Word Perfect?) to your computer and open with Open Office to fill out. All check marked lines are required for a new number request.

Remember to write:
Kayak for vessel name,
PL for Pleasure Craft under General Classification, and
.25 as the gross tonnage.

3. *Find out where your nearest regional office is located by clicking this line, then email them to confirm where you send your application. The reason is…
*In Kamloops, I had to send mine to the Lower Mainland Office in Vancouver.
All you guys on the lower mainland would just send your application to or Fax: 604-586-2528

4. Sending your application
To send your paper application, either:

A) Fax it to the number you determined above.

B) Scan your paper application to pdf and attach to an email.

To send a WPD file version, select “Export as PDF…” from the File menu in Open Office to save it and attach to the email.

More Info

Gear review of Standard Horizon & Lowrance + more info on DSC/MMSI

The two handhelds to consider:

More info on DSC/MMSI

Pat Drummond’s great site:
Marine Radio Info & Use
Marine Channels & Designation

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