If you need to contact Tauranga Coastguard on VHF Channel 01 to log a trip report, or if you need our help, a callsign is the best and easiest way for us to identify you and your boat.  

It is a legal requirement that all radio transmissions must be individually identified. Vessels are issued with either a VHF callsign.
In New Zealand callsigns begin with the letters ZM followed by another letter and 4 numbers.

All your contact, and boat details, are held on the National Callsign Database for search and rescue purposes. 

It’s much easier to find your boat out on the water if we know exactly what we’re looking for!


How Much Is A Call Sign?

  • A callsign is $60 and once purchased belongs to you.
  • An MMSI is a further $10 (if you require one).
  • To update your Call Sign details is free.
  • To transfer a Call Sign to another owner will cost $60.

Who Owns A Call Sign?

A callsign (and MMSI) belongs to the person who purchased the callsign (the ‘holder’). If you purchase a vessel the callsign & MMSI does not automatically transfer with the vessel. Permission must be granted by the person who holds the callsign (and MMSI) to transfer the callsign to a new holder (fees will apply).  This means that a call sign is yours, and can be transferred from an old vessel to a new vessel, all you need to do is update the vessel details.

Restrictions of Callsigns

You should hold a VHF Radio Operator Certificate before operating a marine VHF radio.  These can be obtained at Tauranga Volunteer Coastguard.

It is an offense to use a false Callsign for a radio transmission.

A Callsign can only be attached to one vessel at a time. 

What is an MMSI?

Within the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) a transmission may be automatically identified through the use of a Maritime Mobile Service Identifier (MMSI).  This 9 digit number is programmed into a Digital Selective Calling (DSC) radio and also into an Automatic Identification System (AIS) transponder.

An MMSI is issued by Radio Spectrum Management and is permanently attached to a callsign. They must not be separated. An MMSI, once entered into a radio transmitter or AIS equipment, is very difficult and often costly to remove, therefore it is highly recommended that the callsign and MMSI remain with the vessel.

At present DSC is not monitored in New Zealand.  Currently, in most circumstances, in New Zealand there is no advantage to purchasing an MMSI number.