The Dutch ship station licence, a no-go for the tightfisted

For those ships sailing the national or international waters with an ICP or under the flag of the Netherlands a ship station licence might come in handy, to say the least.


The ship station licence consists of a call sign, ATIS and MMSI number. The numbers are all unique and the MMSI number, for example, is a unique number of nine digits which identifies a radio station. When sending a DSC-Message, the MMSI number is automatically attached to the message being sent. The MMSI number is used to identify the ship by, for example, rescuing parties in case the ship is in distress.

The unique MMSI numbers, which are also registered with the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS), are issued by a telecom agency of the Dutch Ministry of Transport.

Until the end of this year one could be apply for a Dutch ship station licence free of any charges. The procedure was fairly simple, the details of the ship were registered and the ship station licence was automatically issued.

The only drawback was that applying for ship station licence in thge Netherlands could only be done by Dutch passport holders or companies registered in the Netherlands. In the case of foreign owned yachts, a ship station licence could only be obtained through a Dutch citizen or agency.

Nothing has changed to this matter except that the issuing telecom agency now asks for an annual subscription fee. If the fee is not paid, the ship station licence will automatically expire.

Although the annual fee is less than if you would go clubbing in Madrid, Paris, London or Rome, for some reason there are yacht owners who find the relatively low fee enough to register their boat with an other flag state.