EPIRB and PLB Registration


If you own an EPIRB or PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) you need to register the device. In the United States NOAA is the agency that keeps the registration database. After you have registered the beacon, NOAA will send you a Proof Of Registration like the one shown above and it should be affixed to your device.

The Proof Of Registration shows the registration expiry date, the Hexadecimal (HEX) ID of the beacon (the ADCD…. number) and in the case of an EPIRB the vessel name, PLB registrations show the owners name.

Why does the registration expire? NOAA wants to make sure that the data is current so they require you to update it every 2 years. The registration expiry IS NOT the same as the battery expiry. That information is printed on the beacon by the manufacturer and is not part of the NOAA registration process.

So how do you register your unit? There are 3 ways but the easiest (and since you are reading this I assume you like to do things online) is by going to the Beacon Registration web site, setting up an account and filling out a form. You can also fill out the form that should have come with your new unit and either FAX or mail it to NOAA. If you do this online there is absolutely no cost, by FAX just the cost of a fax call and by mail the cost of a first class stamp. There is no fee for registration with NOAA!

If you have an EPIRB and your vessel is registered in Canada, you need to have the unit programmed for Canada and you need to register it with Canadian authorities. Every country is required to maintain their own database, although a few have agreements with others to do the work for them. The internet will quickly lead you to your countries’ site.

What does registering the unit get you? Better response should you need to activate it. That alone is worth the time it takes to do the registration. For commercial vessels there is a USCG requirement that one must register their beacon, failure to do so would result in a trip back to the dock.

Why Port and Starboard?

I have known where the term “starboard” came from but for some reason never figured out “port”. Last night I was reading a piece on NOAA’s web site that answered the question. Read it yourself┬áto find out how vessel handling brought about these common terms.



While on the subject of steering oars, I was also reading a novel which was based in Venice. Through that I learned that gondolas are asymmetric to counteract the push of the single oar. The keel in a gondola curves to the right since the oar on the starboard side will push the boat to port. It seems that this curvature is customized for the individual gondolier.