An Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) is a non-negotiable piece of safety equipment. Every boat should carry one, and all crew should be trained on how to use it.
But, before casting off, you must register your EPIRB. Having correct and current information is vital to Search and Rescue agencies, as out-of-date data could lead to delays in response times.
You should register your EPIRB with the national authority associated with the country code in the hexadecimal identification (15 Hex ID) of your beacon, and it’s very important that you register a new EPIRB as soon as you receive it.
The Hex ID is a 15-digit alphanumeric code, and it’s unique to your EPIRB. Your EPIRB’s Hex ID uniquely identifies your EPIRB and is encoded in the message your beacon transmits to Search and Rescue services if your EPIRB is activated.
Your EPIRB’s Hex ID should be on a label attached to it, or in the EPIRB documentation provided by the manufacturer.
In the UK registration is via the Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA)’s UK Beacon Registry and can now be done online. Before you start, you’ll need:
- the EPIRB’s HEX ID
- an emergency contact for search and rescue authorities
- if you have a vessel – your vessel name, number, call sign, Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number, and details of the radio communications equipment you use
- if you have an aircraft – your aircraft make, model, registration mark, and details of the radio communications equipment you use
There is no charge for registration and should take approximately 15 minutes. Once completed you should receive confirmation of your EPIRB’s registration via email. Once you have registered your EPIRB, remember you can change your emergency contact details at any time and also you must change the registration details if you sell your vessel or move the EPIRB to another vessel.
406 MHz Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) can also be registered in the same way, and the MCA strongly recommends that PLBs used in the maritime environment are registered as, in essence, it’s your personal EPIRB.
To get help registering online, you can contact the UK Beacon Registry team via email@example.com or call on +44 (0)20 3817 2006.