Emergency position indicating radio beacons

An emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) is an electronic device that, when activated, assists rescue authorities to locate those in distress.

All recreational vessels heading out more than two nautical miles from the coast are required to carry an approved 406 Mhz EPIRB. However, it is recommended that all vessels carry a GPS-enabled EPIRB.

Have your safety equipment in a waterproof (and preferably buoyant) safety grab bag in an easily accessible position on the boat, not stuffed into the bow locker.

Paddlers may prefer to carry a personal locator beacon (PLB) because they are smaller. PLBs should be attached to the paddler's lifejacket so they can be kept upright and out of the water if you fall in. PLBs are not considered a substitute for EPIRBs when adhering to State marine carriage regulations. Solo boaters may wish to carry a PLB in addition to an EPIRB.

Register your distress beacon

You must register your beacon with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA). This will allow the AMSA rescue centre to find nominated emergency contacts that may be able to provide valuable information to assist with a rescue. Registration is free and valid for two years.

Register your beacon with AMSA


Distress beacons must be disabled before disposal.

Check the beacon manufacturer's instructions for disablement, and contact a local waste management facility to see about disposing of your unwanted beacon in an environmentally friendly way.

Alternatively, contact your local battery store to check whether they disconnect and dispose of beacons. A small fee may apply.

In an emergency: Using distress beacons

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