Why Should I Register My Beacon?


Registering your beacon may make the difference between life and death. By registering your beacon you allow search-and-rescue authorities in an emergency to retrieve crucial information about you, your aircraft or vessel, and people who can provide valuable information about you (your emergency contacts).

Register your beacon by visiting www.406registration.com.

Your registration information is maintained in databases that are operated by governments and/or the Cospas-Sarsat Secretariat (depending on choices made by the government associated with the “country code” programmed into your beacon). When you visit www.406registration.com and enter your beacon’s identification (ID) code you will be instructed about how you need to register your beacon (depending on the beacon’s “country code”). Registration is a mandatory requirement in many countries, and also for certain aircraft that are subject to the rules of the International Civil Aviation Organization and for certain vessels that are subject to the rules of the International Maritime Organization.

Under NO circumstances can the Cospas-Sarsat Secretariat register a beacon by telephone, facsimile, e-mail or mail. You must go to www.406registration.com to see how your beacon can be registered.

(Note that, in addition to registration, local or international regulations may require that your aircraft or vessel identification be electronically encoded into your beacon so that it is transmitted in the alert message when your beacon is activated. This only can be done by a properly qualified service facility. Check with the manufacturer of your beacon.)

The information about your beacon that you place in the registration databases is for use by search-and-rescue authorities, and is viewable only by them, associated government agencies and the Cospas-Sarsat Secretariat. NO information that you place in the registration databases is made available to commercial entities and it is NOT used for any commercial purpose whatsoever.

Depending on the database in which you are instructed to register your beacon (which depends on the “country code” programmed into the beacon), you will be asked to supply certain kinds of information. This may include:

  • The beacon’s identification, which is a hexadecimal character string (composed of the characters 0-9 and A-F) found on a label attached to every beacon. You will always be asked for this beacon ID because it is the best (and often only) way to uniquely distinguish your beacon from all others.
  • Your name, address, telephone number and other contact details.
  • The identification and description of your aircraft if your beacon is an aviation ELT, or your vessel if your beacon is a marine EPIRB, and its home port.
  • The kinds of survival equipment and communications equipment normally carried.
  • Emergency contact information for those organizations or persons who may be able to provide additional details about aircraft/vessel characteristics, travel plans, supplies likely carried by those in distress, etc.

When a distress alert message from your beacon is relayed to a national-government Search-and-Rescue Point of Contact (SPOCs) that has the responsibility to react to the alert, the information that you have provided during beacon registration is also provided to the rescue authorities. It is easy to understand how important this information can be to rescue authorities as they are organizing a search-and-rescue effort. Also, by attempting to contact you using your contact information, or contacting those that you have listed as emergency contacts during registration, rescue authorities are better able to determine if the distress alert is real or inadvertent. If the alert is real, they will have information that improves the chances of them finding you and saving your life. If the alert is inadvertent, it means that limited search-and-rescue resources are not unintentionally diverted from someone in real distress.

Just as important as registering your beacon when you first acquire it, is the need to update the information when your circumstances change. If you move the beacon to a different aircraft/vessel, or if the contact information for yourself or your emergency contacts change, you must update this information in the registration database. It is strongly recommended that you take a few minutes at least every two years to review and update the information in the registration database. This is a mandatory requirement in some countries. Likewise, if you sell or transfer your beacon to someone else, you need to indicate this in the registration database and encourage the new owner to properly register the beacon for themselves.

If you decide to dispose of an old, unneeded beacon you need to be careful to take certain steps. Do NOT merely toss the beacon in a garbage or rubbish bin. If you do this, over time the casing and electronics could degrade, possibly causing the beacon to begin transmitting a false alert from, for example, a garbage heap. This could divert limited search-and-rescue resources from a real emergency, putting other lives at risk. Instead you must have the battery removed, you must have the beacon clearly labeled on the outside that it has been deactivated (so that no one mistakenly tries to use it in a real emergency), AND you must update your information in the registration database to indicate that you have disposed of the beacon. When possible, the components of your old beacon should be properly recycled.