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GMDSS Radio Operator’s License

Important: Before you sign up for an FCC Element Exam, you must create an FCC user profile and FRN (registration number). Click here to view a video that will walk through the process of creating the FCC user profile and FRN.

The GMDSS Radio Operator’s License (DO) qualifies the holder to operate and make some basic equipment adjustments to Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) radio installations. It also confers the operating authority of the Marine Radio Operator Permit (MP). The GMDSS Radio Operator’s License test is comprised of FCC Element 1 and FCC Element 7.

  • FCC Element 1 — Basic radio law and operating practice with which every maritime radio operator should be familiar.To pass, an examinee must correctly answer at least 18 out of 24 questions.
  • FCC Element 7 — GMDSS Radio Operating Practices. GMDSS radio operating procedures and practices sufficient to show detailed practical knowledge of the operation of all GMDSS sub-systems and equipment.

The exam consists of questions from the following categories: general information, narrow band direct printing, INMARSAT, NAVTEX, digital selective calling, and survival craft. To pass, an examinee must correctly answer at least 75 out of 100 questions.


To qualify, you must:

  • Be a legal resident of (or otherwise eligible for employment in) the United States; and
  • Be able to receive and transmit spoken messages in English; and
  • Pass a written and/or telegraphy examination(s) as described above.

Term Of Licence

A GMDSS Radio Operator’s License is issued for the holder’s lifetime. (Prior to March 25, 2008, the license term for a GMDSS Radio Operator’s License was five years.

Any holder of a GMDSS Radio Operator’s License that expired prior to March 25, 2008, must still file an application to renew the license within the five-year grace period after expiration.

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