This is a RYA VHF course online for anyone who owns a fixed or hand-held marine VHF radio.

The Marine Radio VHF (Short Range Certificate) course costs £69.

A marine radio is an important piece of safety equipment to have on board and it is vital to understand the correct operational procedures. Unnecessary radio transmissions could block out a Mayday distress call.

The Short-Range Certificate (SRC) is the minimum qualification required by law to operate a VHF radio fitted with Digital Selective Calling (DSC) on any British vessel voluntarily fitted with a radio.

All new VHF sets are either fitted, or can be interfaced, with DSC allowing calls to specific vessels. If you hold the ‘old’ VHF licence (pre-1999) you need to upgrade your qualification if you purchase new equipment. This can be done by completing this course and taking your final exam.


RYA VHF Radio course online radio with AIS

Course topics include:

  • the basics of radio operation
  • the correct frequencies (channels) to be used
  • distress, emergency and medical assistance procedures
  • making ship to shore telephone calls
  • Digital Selective Calling (DSC) using simulators
  • Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS)
  • Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRB)
  • Search and Rescue (SART)

This RYA VHF Radio course online course can be undertaken at the candidates own pace in the comfort of their own home. The course is web-based and compatible with PC, Mac, iPads and Android tablets.

VHF Radio handbook for RYA online VHF course

The cost of the Online course is £69 (including a free copy of the RYA VHF Handbook, shown opposite, worth £17.99*).

Once successfully completed, the candidate will download a completion certificate. This will then make the candidate eligible to take the SRC assessment.

More details can be found within the “VHF (src) FAQs” and “VHF Exam (SRC assessment)” tabs shown below.

Minimum Technical requirements
This web-based training is designed to work across the devices and operating systems shown below. It is optimized for the latest technology, fully responsive and suitable for high definition screens.

You will need:

  • Internet connection (broadband or 3G). Charges may apply for 3G.
  • JavaScript enabled in your web browser.
  • Microphone and speakers/headphones.
  • Pop-ups enabled

Minimum requirements:

  • PC running Windows 10 minimum with the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome or Firefox.
  • Mac running 10.13 minimum with the latest version of Safari, Google Chrome or Firefox
  • iPad running iOS 11 minimum using Safari.
  • Android tablet running 4.1 minimum using Google Chrome.
Marine Radio (SRC) Syllabus

1. The general principles and basic features of the maritime mobile service relevant to vessels NOT subject to a compulsory fit under the SOLAS convention:

  • RYA VHF Radio course online user using a radioTypes of communication of the maritime mobile service
  • Types of station in the maritime mobile service
  • Elementary knowledge of radio frequencies and channels appropriate to the VHF maritime mobile band
  • Functionality of ship station equipment

2. Detailed working knowledge of radio equipment:

  • Radiotelephone channels
  • Basic controls and usage
  • Portable two-way VHF radiotelephone apparatus
  • Maritime VHF antennas
  • Purpose and use of Digital Selective Calling (DSC) facilities
  • Types of Call
  • The Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number system
  • Call categorisation and priority (eg. Mayday)
  • Call telecommand and traffic information
  • VHF DSC facilities and usage

3. Operational procedures of the GMDSS and detailed practical operation of GMDSS subsystems and equipment.

  • Search and rescue (SAR) procedures in the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS)
  • Distress, urgency and safety communication procedures in the GMDSS
  • Protection of distress frequencies
  • Maritime Safety Information
  • Alerting and locating signals
  • Emergency Position Indication Radio Beacons (EPIRBs)
  • Search and Rescue Radar Transponder (SART)

4. Operational Procedures and regulations for VHF radiotelephone communications:

    • Ability to exchange communications relevant to the safety of life at sea
    • Distress communications
    • Urgency communications
    • Safety communications
    • Reception of MSI by VHF radiotelephone
    • Awareness of the existence and use of the IMO Standard Marine Navigational Vocabulary
    • Use of international phonetic alphabet
    • Regulations, Obligatory procedures and practices
    • Practical and theoretical knowledge of radiotelephone call procedures
    • Traffic charges
    • Practical traffic routines

Do I have to take the SRC assessment at the same training centre that I purchased the online course from?

No you don’t. You can purchase an online course from any approved Training centre and take the assessment at any other approved Training centre.

If it’s not convenient to go to Sailtrain for my assessment, how can I find a nearer Training centre.

When you purchase your VHF online course we will send you a link that will allow you to find your nearest. There are literally hundreds countrywide so it it won’t be a problem finding a suitable centre.

Is there an alternative to taking the online course?

Yes there is. You can take a 10 hour classroom course followed by the one hour assessment but whether you opt for the Online course or the Classroom course you must still take an assessment at an RYA approved Training centre of which, Sailtrain is one..

Can I just take the assessment without taking the course?

No you can’t. You must successfully complete a course before you will be eligible to take the assessment.

Will I be able to take the RYA SRC exam with SAILTRAIN after taking the Online RYA VHF Radio course?

Yes you will, all you will need is your pre course knowledge certificate and your completed RYA short range application form including photograph. THE RYA will charge you an additional exam/licence issue fee of £70 and Sailtrain will charge £25 for the use of theit facilities.

Is the RYA Changing the way they deliver the RYA VHF Radio course in 2014?

Due to European Regulations (Cept) the RYA will be changing the way the course is delivered in 2014. The new method, delivered by SAILTRAIN, is to take the New RYA Online VHF Radio course which you will be able to take on a PC or a MAC. Then bring along your online completion certificate, on the date we agreed at the time of booking, and take the short Practical/Theory exam.

Will I get a chance to familiarise myself with the actual Radio Equipment I will be using during my exam?

Yes, absolutely. Before the exam starts you will be given the ability to “play” with the radios you are going to use. You will be given sufficient time to become familiar with the menus and functions of the particular radios you will use. Also available will be the Radio manual and a quick start guide.

Is there a minimum age for the VHF Radio Course?

The minimum age for the VHF Radio Course is 16 years old.

I have a pre-1999 restricted VHF radio certificate. Can I upgrade it to include Digital Selective Calling (DSC)?

Yes, you can upgrade the restricted Marine VHF radio licence, you can now book the new format SRC examination direct but its unlikely that you wil pass the new examination without taking some refresher training before attending the examination, i.e.: take the online course .

Will SAILTRAIN run a exam for a group, i.e. a dive club or sailing club etc?

Yes we will run a group examination to a maximum of 12 persons. Please contact us for a quote

If I pass the course, can I teach my crew on the boat how to use the VHF radio?

Yes, when you have passed the vhf radio course you can ask a member of crew to use the radio under your guidance, but it would be a good idea for them to enrol on the course in the future.

I have purchased a second-hand radio with DSC. Can I fit it to my boat?

Any radio equipment must be Type Approved – beware second-hand equipment or radios bought from online auction sites or jumble-sales. In addition, equipment from the USA is completely different from European radio – it will not work properly, and is illegal for use in Europe.

Every DSC radio has a unique MMSI number, issued to you by OfCom. This cannot be deleted manually once entered, and a qualified electronic-engineer (usually the Original Equipment Manufacturer) must erase the units memory. You must then apply to OfCom for a new Ships Radio Licence (different to the Operators Licence), with a Call-Sign and MMSI Number, which you can input manually into the radio. You can do this for online for FREE by (Clicking Here)

At current prices, it may be more cost-effective to buy new rather than buy second-hand and pay to have it sent back to the manufacturer for resetting.

I only have a hand held VHF radio, what type of licence do I need?

You will need a ship’s portable licence issued by Ofcom. The hand held vhf radio will be issued to you with an international callsign, which includes the letter T to denote that it is a transportable and licensed to an individual and not the vessel. But, you still need to have passed the exam to use it.

I’m going to use my radio in the European inland water ways. Do I need Automatic Transmitter Identification System ( ATIS) fitting to my radio?

Yes, you will need to upgrade your set to transmit ATIS. For more info go to: https://licensing.ofcom.org.uk/radiocommunication-licences/ships-radio/faq/atis-faq

I have just purchased an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB ). Who do I register it with in the UK?

You register it on the EPIRB Registry with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) in Falmouth. To register online go to:


I am a Sea Kayaker and have been told that as well as a VHF hand held radio and mobile phone I can get a PLB. What type do you suggest?

We suggest a small Personal Location Beacon ( PLB), such as a FASTFIND  made by McMurdo. It’s totally waterproof and has a GPS 50 channel receiver inside for better location in an emergency situation. Also this small PLB operates on a global 406 MHz system with a 121.5 MHz homing signal.

For more information Click here for the Fastfind website.

How long does it take for my licence to arrive?

Up to 21 Days, but usually this is much sooner – sometimes 7-10 days. There are Fast-Track Options Available, for an additional fee.

Please Contact Us for more information.

Pre-Exam requisites


Minimum age: 16

Pre-exam experience: Completed Online SRC course



Duration: Approx 30 minutes

Utilising ‘real’ training radios.

You will be given an opportunity (minimum 15mins) to familiarise yourself with the sets prior to your exam commencing and your assessor will be on-hand to guide you through its various featurers but will be unable to guide you on any other aspects.

The items you will want to familiarise yourself with are:

  • Power switch
  • Volume / Squelch
  • High/Low Power
  • Channel control
  • Distress button and menus
  • DSC call menus and buttons

The practical exam will include all or a selection of the following (see Practical exam details in RYA Book G26 for further details):

  • Distress situations
  • Urgency situations
  • Safety situations
  • Routine Communications


Duration: Approx 30 mins

Question paper: approximately 50% of the questions are multiple choice.

Re-taking the theory exam: It is possible to re-take the theory exam on the same day should you not reach the required grade. Please be aware that you will not sit the same exam paper twice.

However, if you do not pass within these 2 papers, you will need to re-attend on a separate day and an additional charge will apply.

You can take your final VHF/SRC exam at any RYA approved training centre regardless of where you purchased your Online course. Should you require a link that will allow you to find your nearest of the 550 or so exam centres, just requested the link in the notes section when you make your online course payment/booking.

So that the necessary exam paper work can be passed to the examining centre, where students wish to take an exam at a Training centre other than at Sailtrain, they should provide the details of the examining centre. An email sent to Sailtrain at info@sailtrain.org.uk containing the examining centre name and address is sufficient. Whilst postage within the UK is free of charge postage of the VHF exam paperwork to Training centers outside of the UK will incur an additional charge.


On successful completion of the assessment (practical & written paper) the VHF application form will be sent to the RYA along with your passport photo and exam fee (not included in the price of the Online SRC/VHF course). The RYA certification department will then post your RYA VHF certificate directly to you.

The operators licence (Short Range Certificate) you will receive is for Class D radios, the type fitted to most leisure craft. It is generally accepted internationally for operators on British flagged boats, but to operate a radio on a foreign craft you should contact the appropriate national authority.

To Book an Exam with Sailtrain:

The RYA charge £70 for the exam and there is a £25 exam hosting fee making a total charge of £95.

To Book the next available exam here in Wickford, Essex simply click the here: VHF EXAM.

*Postage outside of the UK will be charged at cost.