Beacon FAQ

 

BEACONS

What is a 406-MHz Cospas-Sarsat beacon?

How does a distress beacon work?

What is a Hex ID, and where can I find mine?

What happens if I do not register my 406-MHz emergency beacon?

What if I accidentally activate my beacon?

How should I maintain my beacon and battery?

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REGISTRATION

Who should register a 406-MHz emergency beacon?

How can I register my 406-MHz EPIRB, ELT or PLB?

What information do I need before I can complete the online registration of my beacon?

What can I do if I have a 406-MHz emergency beacon coded for a country that does not maintain a 406-MHz emergency beacon registration database?

Does Cospas-Sarsat accept registrations by mail or email?

How do I update my beacon registration information?

What is a Hex ID, and where can I find mine?

How can I determine the country code of my beacon?

How do I find my beacon model number?

How do I find my beacon type approval certificate (TAC) number?

What do I add as “Additional Data”?

Does Cospas-Sarsat send Proof-of-Registration decals and confirmation reports?

How long is my registration information valid in the International 406-MHz Beacon Registration Database?

To whom is my 406-MHz emergency beacon registration information released?

Who should I list as an emergency point of contact on my 406-MHz emergency beacon registration form?

Why do I have to re-new my registration every two years?

What do I do if I lend my emergency beacon to someone?

What should I do if I sell my beacon?

How do I change registration information if I purchased a beacon from someone else?

What does INMARSAT mean?

What’s a Radio Call Sign?

When do I receive a confirmation request for my beacon registration?

Do I receive a request for confirmation after I’ve flagged my registration as “OUT OF SERVICE” or another special status?

Will my record be deleted?

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TROUBLESHOOTING

How can I retrieve a forgotten password?

Why can’t I delete my record?

Why does the web-based registration system take me to the “LOG IN” page when I hit “SUBMIT”?

How do I contact you if I have further questions?



What is a 406-MHz Cospas-Sarsat beacon?

A Cospas-Sarsat 406-MHz beacon, also called a distress radio beacon or emergency beacon, is a radio transmitter that can be activated in a life-threatening emergency to summon assistance from government authorities. 

A 406-MHz beacon designed for use in an aircraft is known as an Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT). One designed for use aboard a marine vessel is called an Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB). And one that is designed to be carried by an individual is known as a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB). Sometimes PLBs are carried aboard aircraft or vessels, but you must check with local authorities about the circumstances under which this is permitted. Some ELTs (often older models) transmit only a legacy analogue signal on 121.5 MHz or 243 MHz. Cospas-Sarsat does NOT monitor those frequencies and such beacons rely on being received only by nearby aircraft or rescue personnel. For satellite reception of alerts by Cospas-Sarsat the beacon must be a model that transmits at 406 MHz.

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How does a distress beacon work?

When a distress beacon is activated, it transmits a signal that can be detected by satellites. As the satellites orbit the earth, they "listen" for any activated beacons and carry the beacon signals to ground stations that compute their positions and report to rescue authorities.

For more details see "Cospas-Sarsat System" (Public/System Overview).

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How can I register my 406-MHz EPIRB, ELT or PLB?

You should register your beacon with the national authority associated with the country code in the hexadecimal identification (15 Hex ID) of your beacon. You can register your beacon online with the Cospas-Sarsat IBRD if your country does not provide a registration facility and your country has allowed direct registration in the IBRD. Click here for a list of countries that allow direct registration by beacon owners in the IBRD (www.406registration.com).

Consult the "Beacon Registration Contact Information" to know where you should register your beacon and the associated point of contact. If not information is provided for your Country, please register your beacon in the IBRD at www.406registration.com

Additional contact informatin is available in document C/S S.007, Cospas-Sarsat Handbook of Beacon Regulations in our Professionals website under "System Documents" (Pro/Documents).

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What information do I need before I can complete the online registration of my beacon?

The IBRD has 12 required fields.

You must fill these fields in order to have your registration accepted in the IBRD:

Beacon ID
Password (You will be asked to create a password)
Owner Name
Owner phone number
Owner phone number type (for example: home, cell, work, fax, other)
Emergency contact Name
Emergency contact phone number
Emergency contact phone number type (for example: home, cell, work, fax, other)
Vehicle Type (Selectable from a list)
Vehicle Name (not required for PLB)
MMSI / Call Sign / Inmarsat Number / vessel cell phone number (at least one, for EPIRB only)
Vehicle Registration Number (not required for PLB)

For security reasons, the online registration form expires after 20 minutes. In order to make registration easy, you may wish to gather all the information needed to complete the required fields before you begin the online registration process.

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Who should register a 406-MHz emergency beacon?

All 406 MHz emergency beacon owners/operators should register their 406 MHz emergency beacon (ELTs, PLBs and EPIRBs). Registration information is vital to Search and Rescue (SAR) services while prosecuting SAR cases; it is to your benefit to have a registered beacon in the event of a distress.

All vessels under the SOLAS convention and aircraft operating under the ICAO regulations must register their beacons. Some national Administrations also require registration of 406-MHz beacons.

Document C/S S.007, Cospas-Sarsat Handbook of Beacon Regulations, provides the status of 406-MHz beacon regulations in specific countries and extracts of some international regulations pertaining to 406-MHz beacons. You may also wish to check with your local search and rescue or maritime/aviation transportation authorities for further details.

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What can I do if I have a 406-MHz emergency beacon coded for a country that does not maintain a 406-MHz emergency beacon registration database?

You can register your beacon in the International 406-MHz Beacon Registration Database (IBRD) which is maintained by Cospas-Sarsat and available at www.406registration.com.

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Does Cospas-Sarsat accept registrations by mail or email?

NO. Cospas-Sarsat policy provides that registration information can only be accepted via the online facilities provided by the IBRD at www.406registration.com.

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How do I update my beacon registration information?

Go to www.406registration.com and make the update by logging in with your beacon 15-character Hex ID and the password you established when you initially registered your beacon. You should update your registration information any time the information changes and confirm registration details every two years.

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How can I retrieve a forgotten password?

Access the web-based registration database (www.406registration.com), and click the first option to view previously registered beacons. Choose a language, accept the disclaimer and click on “Access Beacon”. Type in your beacon ID and click the link in the “Forgot password” section. Answer the questions on the screen. You will be asked a security question. After your correct answer is provided, your password will be emailed to you at the email address you provided when you registered your beacon.

If your email address has changed, contact the database administrator at the Cospas-Sarsat Secretariat via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to request the password. Be prepared to give as much information possible about the beacon ID, the beacon owner, the emergency contact person and the vehicle/vessel the beacon is installed on.

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What is a Hex ID, and where can I find mine?

The Hex ID is a 15 hexadecimal character string (valid range: numbers 0 through 9 and letters A through F), referred to as the beacon 15 Hex Identification, or 15 Hex ID. Your beacon’s 15 character Hex ID uniquely identifies your 406-MHz beacon and is encoded in the message your beacon transmits to search and rescue services if your beacon is activated. When your beacon is activated satellites will detect the transmission and relay the distress alert to search and rescue services. The Hex ID contains the country code and other identification features relative to the carrier which are dependent upon the coding protocol used. The Hex ID can identify the carrier using the radio call sign, a serial number, aircraft registration marking, etc.

You should find your beacon’s Hex ID on a label affixed to the beacon or in the beacon documentation provided by your beacon manufacturer. If you have difficulty locating your beacon Hex ID, contact your beacon manufacturer.

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How can I determine the country code of my beacon?

You can decode your beacon’s 15 character Hex ID to obtain the country code using the "Beacon Message Decode Program" available under the Professional part of our website (Pro/Beacons/Beacon Information).

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) provides a list of countries associated with each three digit country code at www.itu.int/cgi-bin/htsh/glad/cga_mids.sh.

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Does Cospas-Sarsat send Proof-of-Registration decals and confirmation reports?

Cospas-Sarsat does not provide Proof-of-Registration decals. However, an email confirming the registration of your beacon will be sent automatically if you provide a valid email address when you register your beacon.

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How long is my registration information valid in the International 406-MHz Beacon Registration Database?

You should confirm your registration information every two years. However, you are encouraged to provide updates to your registration anytime a change of information occurs. Beacon registrations that have not been updated or confirmed for 10 years will be removed from the database.

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To whom is my 406 MHz emergency beacon registration information released?

Although the information provided will become a matter of public record, this information will be used only for its intended purpose: to assist SAR services in carrying out their mission of search and rescue and false alert abatement. The National Administration designated by the country code of the beacon will also have access to this information.

Cospas-Sarsat will not be responsible for unauthorised access or unauthorised changes to IBRD registration data that may result from malicious activities. Cospas-Sarsat will, on a best effort basis, implement measures to protect the integrity of the data, however, Cospas-Sarsat does not guarantee that registration information will not be corrupted or lost.

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What happens if I do not register my 406 MHz emergency beacon?

The System will still work but not registering your beacon defeats the purpose of owning a beacon and taking advantage of current technology. The Cospas-Sarsat System is designed to provide both identification and location information. Identification information such as the radio call sign or aircraft tail number can be encoded into the 406-MHz emergency beacon. If the beacon is encoded with a serial number, it is very important that it be registered as no information about the beacon user can be encoded in the beacon's message. Furthermore some countries mandate registration by law and there may be penalties for not registering.

As long as the System is able to obtain a position (either using Doppler processing or through the use of beacons that can transmit their position as part of the 406-MHz message), search and rescue personnel can respond to a distress signal. However, when a position is not available, search and rescue personnel have to rely on registration information. It is in these cases that rescue could be delayed until the System can obtain a position. Even with a position, the response may be delayed until the search and rescue personnel determine the nature of the distress and their capability to respond to the location of the distress. When registering a beacon, try to list two contacts, one of which the search and rescue personnel would be able to reach at any time of the day.

Beacons can be stolen and activated maliciously and they can be activated accidentally if not cared for in a proper manner. In such circumstances the registration data can be used to contact the owner and/or emergency contacts to establish that an emergency situation does not exist. This can assist the owner to remedy a fault if one exists and it can assist the SAR authority to take appropriate action if no emergency exists. This means that your registration can help avoid the unnecessary use of valuable SAR resources and putting rescuers lives at risk.

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Who should I list as an emergency point of contact on my 406-MHz emergency beacon registration form?

You should list family and/or friends that can be easily contacted (e.g., carry a cell phone, or are usually available at work or at home) and would have knowledge about where you sail or fly and are not likely to be involved in any distress situation associated with this beacon. List someone who knows where you are and who is not travelling with you. If you are renting or borrowing a beacon, have the contact information added in the “Additional Data” field.

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Why do I have to renew my registration every two years?

The registration information you provide is used to help locate you in case of an emergency. Therefore, the information has to be current and accurate. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) recommends that registration information be updated annually. More importantly, accurate registration information could help save your life.

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What do I do if I lend my emergency beacon to someone?

That depends on how frequently and for how long you lend your beacon. If you frequently lend your beacon to someone else or it is used on another vessel, you may wish to note this fact in the “ADDITIONAL DATA” section of the registration form. The same holds true if you lend your beacon to someone for an extended period. In these cases, adding an email address is important so that you are immediately notified when the registration is updated. If you rented a beacon, you should have the beacon rental company update their registration information and specify your emergency contact information and the details of your trip.

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What should I do if I sell my beacon?

You should log on to the www.406registration.com website and change the status of your beacon to SOLD. Until you do this, the person who bought the beacon cannot register the beacon under their own name.

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How do I change registration information if I purchased a beacon from someone else?

The person you bought the beacon from must have changed the status of the beacon to SOLD if it was registered in the IBRD. Once this has been done, you can simply log on to the IBRD (www.406registration.com), select NEW REGISTRATION, and complete the online form. If the previous owner has registered the beacon but not changed its status in the IBRD, you will not be able to register the beacon.

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How do I find my beacon model number?

This is not a required field, however, the model number is usually provided on the beacon itself along with the serial number or with the beacon documentation.

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How do I find my beacon type approval certificate (TAC) number?

This is not a required field. The type approval certificate number was issued by Cospas-Sarsat when the beacon was first approved for use.

If you are having trouble determining your beacon type approval certificate number, a list of all beacons that have been type approved by Cospas-Sarsat is available in our Professionals website at "Approved Beacon Models (TACs)" (Pro/Beacons/Beacon Information). 

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What does INMARSAT mean?

INMARSAT owns and operates a global satellite network and offers mobile satellite communications for maritime, aviation and land-based users. This is supplementary information for registration purposes only. This is not a required field. If you do not have a satellite phone or INMARSAT phone you can leave this field blank.

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What’s a Radio Call Sign?

In broadcasting and radio communication, a callsign or call sign is a unique designation for a transmitting station. They can be formally assigned by a government agency, or informally adopted by individuals or organizations. This is supplemental information for registration purposes only. This is not a required field. If you do not have a radio callsign you can leave this field blank.

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Why does the web-based registration system take me to the “LOG IN” page when I hit “SUBMIT”?

Chances are you took longer than 20 minutes to complete or update your registration. If you need more than 20 minutes to complete your registration form, you can click “SUBMIT” after you have filled in all the required fields and then click “Update” to complete the remaining information.

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When do I receive a confirmation request for my beacon registration?

If you have provided a valid email address, the confirmation request is emailed 2 years after the last update.

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Do I receive a request for confirmation after I’ve flagged my registration as “OUT OF SERVICE” or another special status?

No, you will not receive a request for confirmation if your beacon has been flagged in the IBRD as out of service, stolen, sold, destroyed, lost or replaced.

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Will my record be deleted?

If your record is set to a special status and is not updated for 10 years, it will be deleted. 

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Why can’t I delete my record?

You can only change the status of your beacon. Only the database manager can delete a beacon record.

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What do I add as “Additional Data”?

You can enter trip itineraries, dates of trip, special medication information, and physical condition. The more information you provide, the easier it is for SAR services to help you.

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What if I accidentally activate my beacon?

The most important thing is to turn it off and let the Search and Rescue Authorities know as soon as you can. There is no penalty for accidentally activating your beacon.

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How do I contact you if I have further questions?

You can contact the IBRD Manager:

by email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

or by phone: +1 514 954 6761

You can also use the feedback facility provided in the IBRD software. To access this facility, go to www.406registration.com, select the first link "To register a beacon or view/amend your registration data click here" and choose an interface language. Under the disclaimer, you will find a link for the Feedback survey.