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 quickest way to get your VHF Radio Operator Certificate of Competence. Just complete the online course then book a convenient time to do the final practical exam and written paper in person at a training centre. Bay Sea School have two radio assessors so it should be fairly easy to arrange a date and time.

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 fee does not include the RYA's £60 certificate fee. This is payable to the RYA before you attend the 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.

Study the course at your own pace

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.  You get three attempts and the pass mark is 60%. 

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 take the final practical exam and for the license application form.  

Due to COVID 19 the final face to face exams will be conducted on a 1:1 basis.  The exam will take place in a ventilated space.  All equipment will be sanitised before and after use.  Full safety instructions will be sent when booking a time slot for the exam.

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 pre-exam knowledge check at the end of your online course will let you see if you're ready for this final written paper.  The practical assessment involves various scenarios.  You have to make the right kind of DSC call 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.  VHF radios are not as intuitive as mobile phones.  So it's worth a few minutes of your time to learn the menu of the ICOM radio before your exam!


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 - 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.