As well as a license, all ships are obliged under SOLAS Chapter I Regulation 9 to have a Safety Radio certificate. This certificate is one of the safety certificates normally required for a ship to produce when requesting customs clearance to depart a port. The radio installations of passenger ships are included in the Passenger Ship Certificate and for cargo ships the installation is covered by the Cargo Ship Safety Radio certificate.
The Passenger Ship Certificate is issued in accordance with SOLAS Chapter 1-B regulation 7 and is a single catch-all certificate covering construction, radio and safety equipment that is renewable annually.
For cargo ships, separate certificates are issued with longer periods of validity. A cargo ship certificate is only issued after a survey carried out in accordance with SOLAS Chapter I-B Regulation 9 which reads:
Regulation 9 - Surveys of radio installations of cargo ships
- (a) The radio installations, including those used in life-saving appliances, of cargo ships to which chapters III and IV apply shall be subject to the surveys specified below:
(i) an initial survey before the ship is put in service;
(ii) a renewal survey at intervals specified by the Administration but not exceeding five years, except where regulation 14(b), (e), (f) and (g) is applicable;
(iii) a periodical survey within three months before or after each anniversary date of the Cargo Ship Safety Radio Certificate;
(iv) an additional survey as prescribed for passenger ships in regulation 7(b)(iii).
- (b) The surveys referred to in paragraph (a) shall be carried out as follows:
(i) the initial survey shall include a complete inspection of the radio installations of cargo ships, including those used in life-saving appliances, to ensure that they comply with the requirements of the present regulations;
(ii) the renewal and periodical surveys shall include an inspection of the radio installations of cargo ships, including those used in lifesaving appliances, to ensure that they comply with the requirements of the present regulations.
- (c) The periodical surveys referred to in paragraph (a)(iii) shall be endorsed on the Cargo Ship Safety Radio Certificate.
The Safety Radio Certificate is issued by the flag state but, as with most SOLAS certificates, it is usual for the flag state to sub-contract inspection, surveys and issuance to a Recognised Organisation (RO). Most ROs are classification societies but other third-party bodies may also be appointed.