Registering you EPIRB

Registration of 406 MHz EPIRBs

The registration of your 406 MHz satellite emergency position-indicating radio beacon or EPIRB is intended to save your life, and is mandated by Federal Communications Commission regulations. The Coast Guard enforces this FCC registration rule.

Your life could be saved as a result of properly registering emergency information. This information can be extremely helpful in confirming a distress situation exists, and in arranging appropriate rescue efforts. Also, geostationary National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration weather satellite systems can pick up and then relay an EPIRB distress alert to the Coast Guard well before the international COSPAS-SARSAT satellite can provide location information.

When an EPIRB is properly registered, the Coast Guard will be able to use the registration information to immediately take action on the case. If the EPIRB is unregistered, a distress alert can take as long as two hours or longer to reach the Coast Guard over the international satellite system. If an unregistered EPIRB transmission is abbreviated, the satellite will be unable to determine the EPIRB's location and the Coast Guard will be unable to react to the distress alert. Unregistered or improperly registered EPIRBs have needlessly cost the lives of mariners since the satellite system became operational.

The Registration Form

The registration sheet you submit is entered into the U.S. 406 Beacon Registration Database maintained by NOAA/NESDIS. When your EPIRB is activated, your registration information is sent automatically to the appropriate USCG SAR Rescue Coordination Center (RCC) for response. The first action the RCC watchstanders do is attempt to contact the owner/operator at the phone number listed in the registration database to determine if the vessel is underway, ruling out the possibility of a false alarm due to accidental activation or EPIRB malfunction. If there is an answer, the intended route of the vessel if underway, and the number of people on board will be recorded to determine the best course of action. If there is no answer, or no information, the other numbers listed in the database will attempted in order to get the information described above needed to assist the RCC in responding appropriately to the EPIRB distress signal.

When the RCC personnel contact the emergency phone numbers you provided, they will have access to all the information you provided on the registration form. You should inform these contacts as much as possible about your intended voyage including route, stops, areas you frequently sail or fish, number of people on board, expected return, etc.  The more information these contacts know then the better prepared RCC SAR personnel will be to react. Your contacts can also be kept informed of any developments, if they so desire.

Registration Regulations

You can be fined for false activation of an unregistered EPIRB by The U.S. Coast Guard who routinely refers cases involving the non-distress activation of an EPIRB through a hoax, gross negligence, or mishandling to the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC prosecutes cases based upon evidence provided by the Coast Guard and will issue notices of liability for fines up to $10,000.

If you plan on purchasing a new or a used 406 MHz EPIRB, you MUST register it with NOAA. If you change your boat, your address, or your primary phone number, you MUST re-register your EPIRB with NOAA. Also, if you sell your EPIRB, you MUST make sure the purchaser re-registers the EPIRB, or you may be called by the Coast Guard if it later becomes activated.