Renewing your registration
Why does AMSA issue registration stickers for EPIRBs and PLBs?
What should be done if a distress beacon is sold, lost, stolen or destroyed?
Can distress beacons be registered for more than one use?
Can distress beacons be used overseas or can beacons registered in a foreign country be used in Australia?
What is the Cospas-Sarsat System?
Registration is free and can result in a more efficient search and rescue effort. As stated, digital 406 MHz distress beacons transmit a unique code that identifies a particular beacon when it is activated.
A registered 406 MHz beacon will allow the Australian Maritime Safety Authority's (AMSA) Rescue Coordination Centre to access the registration database and find contact details; details of registered vessels, aircraft or vehicles; and details of up to three nominated emergency contacts who may be contacted if a beacon is activated and contact cannot be made.
These emergency contacts may be able to provide valuable information to the RCC that can assist with a more expedient rescue. Beacon registration is valid for two years and renewal can be done online or by contacting 1800 406 406.
You can now register your beacon online here: https://www.beacons.amsa.gov.au/
Beacon owners have protected access to their accounts and are able to update their details anytime, including changes to:
There is also the facility for owners to note trip itineraries, so when a beacon is activated the RCC will have access to your current movements and be better placed to organise the most suitable response.
This does not replace advising a responsible person of your trip details. In addition to online access, registration forms and changes to details can also be provided to AMSA by fax, email or post.
For statistics about online registrations, click here.
A Sticker reminder notification will be issued one month before the two year expiry date if your registration details have not been updated in the six months previously.
If your registration details have been updated six months before the expiry date, then NO reminder will be issued. The AMSA system will automatically generate a new registration sticker letter and send it to you one month prior to the expiry date.
The registration sticker reminders will be sent via email if you have an email address recorded in the beacon register.
If no email address is listed, then a sticker reminder letter will be mailed one month prior to the sticker's expiry date.
To enable the issue of a new registration sticker we require the beacon owner to check and confirm the registration details either by:
A new registration sticker will not be issued until your beacon registration details are validated as current.
Please allow approximately two weeks for delivery of your new registration sticker which will be valid for a further two years.
Registration stickers are issued by AMSA and provide distress beacon owners and marine inspectors with proof of current registration.
The sticker will note the HexID/UIN of the beacon, its registration expiry date (2 years from date of issue) and vessel name, aircraft tail number or owner's name depending on type of beacon and use. This registration sticker must be affixed to the beacon.
A fine may result if a current sticker is not affixed to a beacon during a safety equipment inspection.
Owners are asked to notify AMSA if they sell their distress beacon or it is lost, stolen or destroyed. If AMSA is not notified and the new owner activates the beacon any rescue will be delayed as the last known registered owner will be contacted. Notification of sold, lost, stolen or destroyed distress beacons can be made online at:
or by fax, phone, post or email.
Although EPIRBs and PLBs are designed for use in specific environments, they are more commonly being used across the spectrum of environments. AMSA's registration database will accept details for the beacons primary use as well as for other uses.
Care must be taken when using a distress beacon for a purpose other than the specific purpose they were designed for. For example, EPIRBs are designed to float in water and use the water plane to reflect the signal upwards to the satellite. An EPIRB activated on land or in a boat must remain vertical to ensure the signal is not greatly degraded. Similarly, although PLBs are waterproof and designed to float, they are not required to float upright so when activating a PLB at sea it should be supported so that its antenna remains vertical and out of the water. Some life vests have pockets for PLBs sewn into the webbing up high near the shoulder allowing the PLB to be supported above the water leaving hands free.
Cospas-Sarsat is a global system and distress beacon alerts are received by the satellites from anywhere on the Earth's surface. If an Australian-coded distress beacon is activated overseas an alert will be sent to the Rescue Coordination Centre responsible for the region in which the distress incident is occurring. A second notification is then sent to RCC-Australia as the registrar for the beacon.
Likewise, alerts from beacons registered in other countries that are activated in the Australian region will be received by RCC-Australia. Australian residents who buy a distress beacon registered elsewhere should have the beacon recoded with the Australian country code by a local agent and have it registered with AMSA.
The Cospas-Sarsat System is divided into the space segment comprising distress beacon receivers on Polar-orbiting satellites and on satellites in geo-stationary orbit over the Equator. The ground segment is made up of a network of Local User Terminals (LUTs) that are the ground receiving stations for the satellite transmissions with Mission Control Centres (MCCs) that analyse and pass the distress alerts to responsible Rescue Coordination Centres. In the Australian region there are three LUTs located at Albany (WA), Bundaberg (QLD) and Wellington (NZ) that are controlled by the MCC located with RCC-Australia in Canberra.
Alerts from 406 MHz distress beacons may be received and processed by geo-stationary satellites and passed to RCC-Australia within minutes. If the beacon has GPS capability then a very accurate position may be transmitted with the alert. Non-GPS beacons require detection by a Polar-orbiting satellite before a position can be obtained.