30Emergency Position Indicating Radiobeacons (EPIRBs) on Ships


1.1Regulations concerning the carriage of emergency position indicating radiobeacons (EPIRBs) have been in effect since October 25, 1989. Expanded carriage requirements came into force on October 28th 2020 for vessels operating outside sheltered waters. The carriage requirements are contained in the Navigation Safety Regulations, 2020. In addition to the carriage requirements, there are technical requirements that every EPIRB must meet and important testing and inspection requirements.

Consult Section 209, 230 and 231 of the Navigation Safety Regulations, 2020 for more details

< 8 m in Length

8 m to 12 m in Length

More than 12 m in Length

Near Coastal I
and beyond

Float Free EPIRB

Float Free EPIRB

Float Free EPIRB

Near Coastal II

Float Free EPIRB
Manual EPIRB
406 MHz PLB; or
Portable VHF /w DSC*

Float Free EPIRB
Manual EPIRB; or
406 MHz PLB

Float Free EPIRB

2Voluntary Carriage

2.1The Canadian Coast Guard encourages the voluntary carriage of EPIRB on all vessels that are not required to carry this equipment.

Your EPIRB and SAR Services

Since 2009, only 406 MHz beacons are detected by the Cospas-Sarsat satellite system.
You sell or give up your 406 MHz beacon? Do not forget to amend the Canadian Beacon Registry (CBR), your identity is related to the beacon. Contact CBR at:

Canadian Beacon Registry
CFB Trenton, PO Box 1000 Stn Forces
Astra, ON, K0K 3W0
Telephone: 1-877-406-SOS1 (7671)
Fax: 1-877-406-FAX8 (3298)
Visit the Canadian Beacon Registry Website
E-mail: CBR@sarnet.dnd.ca

3Emergency Beacon Registries

3.1The Navigation Safety Regulations, 2020 require Canadian vessel owners to register each beacon. Owners must also ensure that the information is up to date.

3.2These registries contain information about the beacon, the vessel it is on and the person who owns the beacon. This information is used for search and rescue purposes and will greatly assist in the speedy resolution of any beacon alarm incident. The responsibility of ensuring the accuracy of registry data rests with the beacon owner. Since lives may depend on this information, it is in the owner's best interests to ensure the initial and continuing accuracy of registered information.

3.3In order to be registered the emergency beacon must be coded for Canada.

3.4EPIRBs must be registered with the Canadian Beacon Registry.

4Safe Transportation

4.1The power source for EPIRBs is a long-life lithium battery. There are federal and provincial regulations governing the transportation of equipment containing these batteries, by land, sea or air.

4.2Users should consult an EPIRB agent, a transportation company or the appropriate government transportation authority for guidance prior to the shipment of an EPIRB for any purpose other than normal use.


5.1Investigations by the Canadian Coast Guard have determined that the Category 1 float-free, 406 MHz EPIRB on board some vessels have not been properly installed or armed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Such equipment would therefore not function automatically in an emergency situation. It is imperative that mariners ensure that this float-free EPIRB is properly installed on board their vessel and set for automatic operation.


6.1Users should ensure that EPIRBs are tested at least once every six months in accordance with the Navigation Safety Regulations, 2020.

6.2Users should read all instructions carefully and refer to the user manual for the manufacturer's recommendations on periodic maintenance.

7False Alarms

7.1In order to minimize the impact on SAR resources, in the event of accidental activation of an EPIRB, SAR authorities request that users:

.1deactivate the beacon by turning the switch from ON to ARMED (or SAFE) position in certain models; and,
.2call the Canadian Mission Control Centre at 1-800-211-8107 or (613) 965-7265 or the nearest JRCC/MRSC office to report the situation.

Authority: Canadian Coast Guard (Search and Rescue, Ottawa)

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