New VHF Marine Channels Approved for 2017

Due to the increased need of more marine VHF channels for VTS, commercial requirements, and port operations, a recent ITU World Radio Conference has authorized and developed a new channel plan for the VHF marine radio frequencies. This new channel plan will take effect January 1, 2017.

How will this affect the international frequency plan?

Besides having to either upgrade your existing radio or buy a new one (I imagine the major VHF marine radio manufacturers are loving this,) the plan is to take the current channels 19, 20, 78, and 79, currently duplex, and split them into 8 new simplex channels.

Here is an example:

For most places, everywhere but the America’s, channel 19 is a duplex channel (using different frequencies to transmit and receive on) with a ship transmit frequency of 156.950 MHz and coast transmit (ship receive) frequency of 161.550 MHz. Beginning January 2017 the ship transmit frequency of 156.950 MHz will become the new channel 1019 and the coast transmit frequency of 161.550 MHz becomes channel 2019.

The 8 newly created channels will be as follows - 1019, 2019, 1020, 2020, 1078, 2078, 1079, and 2079. All of these new channels have been dedicated to Port Operations and Ship Movement by the ITU. It remains to be seen if member state governments will provide relief to the recreational boater by reassigning any of these new channels to Non-Commercial usage.

What changes will we see in the Americas?

From January 1, 2017, channels 80, 21, 81, 22, 82, 23, 83, 24, 84, 25, 85, 26 and 86 (21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, and 86) will be available for digital modes (Think text and email.)

Channels 27, 87, 28 and 88 may be used for testing of new AIS applications.

The frequency 160.9 MHz (a spare Coast Station transmit frequency between channels 65 and 66) may be used for testing of new applications. This will be known as channel 2006.

For the great majority of boaters in Region 2, these changes should have little or no impact to their normal VHF communications requirements.

On the following pages, we have listed marine VHF frequency usage tables for a few countries from around the world. While our list is small, we hope that we can build on these tables going forward. If you have information concerning VHF frequency allocation of countries that we have not listed please send it on to us at and we will try and get it published.

VHF Frequency Tables by Country

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