What is an MMSI number?

Many of our clients who sail outside of the territorial waters desire a ship station licence. The ship station licince consists of a Call Sign, ATIS number and Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number.

The MMSI number is a radio frequency number consistent of nine digits in total. The MMSI number is programmed in communication devices such as EPIRBs fitted with an AIS transmitter, search & rescue transponders, etc.

The MMSI number is a unique number through which a ship can be identified when the communication devices transmits a beacon distress signal. On basis of the MMSI number search parties have access to information such as type of ship, length, colours, number of masts, etc. through which they can recognise the ship when on the look-out in response to the distress signal.

Copyright : National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration


In the Netherlands the issuing body of MMSI numbers is the Telecom Agency, a department of the Dutch Ministry of Economicalaffairs. They are authorised to only issue MMSI numbers to yachts that either primarily sail the Dutch territorial waters, with or without an ICP, or boats that that are registered in the ship registrar of the Netherlands.


One must realise that applying for a ship station licence does bare serious responsibility which should not be underestimated. When a ship station licence is misused or abused, considerable fines can be issued and have to be paid by the owner of the boat. This proves to say that when on- or off-board, always make sure radio equipment can not be misused by unauthorised guests or personnel as the financial consequences could be of a serious proportions.

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