RYA VHF Marine Radio Online

Learn how to call for help at sea

The RYA VHF Handbook

Many flotilla and charter companies now require this radio qualification. The online course is the easiest way to get your VHF Radio Operator Certificate of Competence. Complete the online course then book a mutually convenient time to do the final practical exam and written paper in person at a training centre. 

How to book the online course

Fill in the form at the bottom of this page to book and pay for your course.

Our course fee includes the RYA's Online Course and the RYA VHF Handbook which we will post to you.

Our course fee does not include the additional £70 certificate fee. This is payable to the RYA before you attend the final practical assessment. The minimum age for the assessment is 16.

After you've purchased your course, we'll send you an email with full joining instructions. Please check your spam folder for this email. It will include your username and password. Once logged in, you'll be asked to create a user profile on the RYA Interactive website. Having done that you can start your course.

The course is designed to be self-study but if you need any help our award-winning RYA Yachtmaster Instructor is available by text or email. You can work through the various modules as many times as you want and practise making calls using a VHF Radio simulator.  This lets you record and playback your radio conversations. 

Pre-exam knowledge check
Do this after you've completed all the modules. The pass mark is 60% and you get 3 attempts. It will give you an idea of whether you're ready for the final assessment.

Pre-exam certificate number
Once you've passed the online 'pre-exam knowledge check' you'll be issued with a certificate and number.  You'll need this certificate number to attend the final practical exam and also for the license application form.

The final face-to-face exams are conducted on a 1:1 basis at a mutually convenient time. All equipment is sanitised before & after use and the room will be well ventilated. Full joining instructions are sent after booking.

Final face-to-face exam 
Please don't be too nervous, we really want you to do well!  It usually takes between one & two hours to complete everything.  There are two parts to it; a practical assessment and a written paper.  The practical assessment involves various scenarios where you have to use the right kind of DSC function and follow up by voice.  You'll also be expected to respond to DSC calls.  

Note: You are not allowed to refer to your handbook in the final assessment.  But you can prepare & write down your voicecall if you want.


Top tips

TOP TIP - Familiarise yourself with the ICOM Radio 
The menu structure of VHF radios all differ.  On your final practical exam you'll use an ICOM radio.  The links below show you how to make the main DSC calls on that kind of radio.  Please familiarise yourself with these procedures before you come.  


Sending a Routine Announcement by DSC

Manually entering another boat's MMSI number

Manually entering a position - (It's much easier to have your radio permanently connected to GPS!)

Sending a DSC Distress Alert

VHF Radio Update - Please note these recent changes to the VHF Radio course

Mayday relay update

Does the online course work on your device?
The training is available as a web-based course, optimized for the latest technology & fully responsive, designed to work across the devices and operating systems listed below.

You will need:

  • Internet connection (Broadband or 3G)
  • Javascript enabled in your web-browser
  • Microphone and speakers / headphone 
  • Pop-ups enabled

Minimum requirements:

  • PC running Windows 10 minimum & latest version of Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome or Firefox.
  • Mac running 10.13 minimum & latest version of Safari, Google Chrome or Firefox
  • iPad running iOS 11 minimum using Safari
  • Android tablet running 4.1 minimum using Google Chrome

Try the web based online VHF course

Try the web-based taster course here


Can I do a traditional classroom VHF Radio course at Bay Sea School?
Yes, click here for more information.
Is there an age limit?
Although there is no age limit to do the course, the minimum age for the assessment is 16.
I have an RYA/MCA 'VHF Restricted Operator's Certificate'.  Can I update it to the GMDSS Short Range Certificate?
You can buy an RYA course pack from us to refresh your knowledge and learn about the new Global Maritime Distress and Safety System.  When you feel ready, contact us to arrange a direct assessment.  However, we strongly recommend you take the online course, especially if it's been a few years since you last used a VHF radio.