About The VHF Exam

This page provides information of the Marine VHF/DSC Short Range Certificate (SRC) Exam.

The Marine VHF Short Range Certificate (SRC) is the minimum qualification required by law to control the operation of VHF and VHF Digital Selective Calling (DSC) equipment on any British flagged vessel voluntarily fitted with a radio. This includes both fixed and handheld equipment using International channels.   In order to achieve the SRC, owners of VHF/DSC equipment must undertake an MCA mandated exam to follow on from the Short Range Certificate (SRC) VHF/DSC 10 hour practical course or the RYA VHF/DSC Interactive Course which can be completed on-line.

Please check out our VHF online training course which provides all of the information and links to join an on-line course

This exam consists of a 30 minute theory paper and 60 minute practical assessment at the PPSA RYA Training Centre at Llanion Cove, Pembrokeshire.  It will comprise of some administration and a familiarisation period on the physical equipment being used  for the exam.  In total,  you should be at the centre for no more than 2 hours.  Please get in touch if you’d prefer to take the assessment in the morning or afternoon.

Practical Exam topics include:

  • Defining a Distress/Urgency/Safety Message
  • Initiating DSC Distress/Urgency/Safety/Routine Alerts
  • Transmitting a distress/Urgency/Safety/Routine message by voice using appropriate channels
  • Responding to DSC alerts and routine messages and relay of distress alerts
  • Use of EPIRB and SART
  • Cancelling error distress messages
  • Entering MMSI Individual and Group numbers
  • Maintenance of a listening watch
  • Use of the Phonetic Alphabet

Theory Exam topics include:

  • The basics of radio operation
  • The correct frequencies (channels) to be used
  • Distress, emergency and medical assistance procedures
  • making ship to shore telephone calls
  • Digital Selective Calling (DSC)
  • Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS)
  • Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRB)
  • Search and Rescue Transponder (SART)

As part of the course feeds you will receive a VHF/DSC licence application form which you must bring with you to the Assessment, you will also require a passport sized photo of yourself.

Assumed Knowledge


The theory paper will last no more than 30 minutes. The Practical element will last no more than 1 hour.  The whole process, including administration should last no more than 2 hours

On Completion

Able to operate a marine radio and know the procedures required to use it

Course Dates

No Events
Date/Time Event Book

Course Material


PPSA is located within the Llanion Cove Complex that has close to 80 bedspaces.

The accommodation is largly self-catering although there is a cafe and bar on site and is bunk house in style.  We can can arrange accommodation at Llanion Cove whilst you are on your course or underaking on water experiences for a small additional charge.

The Cove is located close to Pembroke Dock, adjacent to the Cleddau Estuary and is an ideal location from which to explore the beautiful Pembrokeshire Coastal National Park, particularly in the Year of the Sea #FindYourEpic.

The Cleddau Estuary and local area boasts a vast array of visitor and historical attractions, from Pembroke Castle, the home of Henry VII to the nature reserves around the county.

PPSA is located right in the middle of this great county and it’s historic and beautiful countryside.  Please get in touch with the centre for more information and to check availability


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