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Non-shipborne automatic identification systems

State and federal policy on the use of non-shipborne automatic identification system (AIS) units.

We are the current holder of an Australia wide Maritime Coast Licence for the AIS frequencies 161.975 MHz (AIS1) and 162.025 MHz (AIS2) in the VHF maritime mobile band. In effect, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) have licensed us to operate a limited coast assigned system subject to the conditions laid down in the relevant Maritime Coast Licence Determinations.

We may, at our sole discretion, permit third parties to operate non-shipborne AIS in Australia. As the licence holder, we are bound by the conditions imposed upon it by the Radiocommunications Act 1992. Third parties must also comply with the relevant sections of this Act.

IMO Resolution MSC.140(76) notes that administrations should take steps necessary to ensure the integrity of the radio channels used for AIS in their waters. IMO Resolution MSC.74(69) Annex 3 states that AIS should serve as a means for littoral states to obtain information about ships and be used as a Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) tool. Therefore, it is envisaged that applications for non-shipborne AIS would be limited to state or port authorities.

This document sets out our guidelines for implementation of non-shipborne AIS.

Guidelines for implementation of non-shipborne AIS

The purpose of these guidelines is to ensure a consistent approach to the use of AIS in Australia, and to ensure that all AIS units using the same AIS frequencies work in a coherent manner, providing stable use of the spectrum. We require particular information when processing applications to use AIS.


Non-shipborne AIS installations in Australia.


ACMAAustralian Communications and Media Authority
AISAutomatic Identification System
FATDMAFixed Access Time Division Multiple Access
IALAInternational Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities
IECInternational Electrotechnical Commission
IMOInternational Maritime Organization
ITUInternational Telecommunication Union
MMSIMaritime Mobile Service Identity
VDLVHF Data Link
VHFVery High Frequency


AIS AtoNAn AIS AtoN is a digital aid to navigation (AtoN) broadcast by an authorised service provider using AIS Message 21 'Aids to navigation report' which can be portrayed on devices or systems (eg Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS), radar or Integrated Navigation System (INS)).
AIS Base StationThe AIS base station is the most basic AIS-related entity of any AIS shore infrastructure. The AIS Base Station allows for the full control of the AIS VHF data link.
AtoNAid to navigation – a device or system external to vessels that is designed and operated to enhance the safe and efficient navigation of vessels and/or vessel traffic.


AIS can be fitted on fixed and floating structures to assist with positive identification of these structures by passing vessels. AIS may also be used to assist those operating vessel traffic services to monitor vessel traffic in their area of interest including potential and real entry into exclusion or restricted areas.

Given many AIS transmitters may be used in any one area, a level of control, integrity and protection of the AIS VDL is required in accordance with IMO Resolution MSC.347(91).

We monitor the use of the AIS VDL and issue all Australian MMSI numbers, AIS licences and FATDMA time slots to owners of non-shipborne AIS transmitters. This ensures there is no interference from co-located services, and provide a level of control to ensure integrity and protection of the AIS VDL.

We will evaluate each application, to ensure that the purpose of installation aligns with current, internationally accepted aims and objectives for AIS ashore, including IMO, ITU, IALA and IEC guidance.

These guidelines have been developed in consultation with Australian Ports and Port authorities through the Australian AIS working group. They are intended to ensure every installation works correctly and provides reliable service.



We will assess each application on its nautical requirement for AIS in support of navigation. AIS Aids to Navigation (AtoN) will be marked with appropriate Message 21 coding as contained in the most recent version of Recommendation ITU-R M.1371.

AIS base station transmissions will be identified with appropriate maritime mobile service identity (MMSI), as defined in Article 19 of the Radio Regulations, and Recommendation ITU-R M.585. AIS units should only transmit if a valid and authorised MMSI is programmed. An AIS base station will be used to reserve the FATDMA slots used by AIS AtoN in the footprint of the AIS base station.

Non-shipborne AIS will be certified to the latest edition of the relevant IEC testing standard (IEC 62320-1 for AIS base stations; IEC 62320-2 for AIS AtoN). On receiving an application, we will liaise with the applicant and ACMA to licence the non-shipborne AIS unit. We will provide the applicant with the authorised MMSI and the authorised FATDMA slot allocations for all non-shipborne AIS, used on offshore structures and facilities.

To apply for non-shipborne AIS equipment, use AMSA Form 234a for AIS base stations and AMSA Form 234b for AIS AtoN. Further information is provided in our policy for the licensing of non-shipborne AIS units.



The AIS AtoN may be an AIS AtoN Type 1, Type 2 or Type 3 as described in IEC 62320-2. The defining dimensions of the offshore structure must be transmitted in accordance with Message 21 as outlined in the most recent edition of Recommendation ITU-R M.1371.

If the AIS AtoN is not within VHF radio range of an existing AIS base station, then a new AIS base station should be established within the VHF radio range of the AIS AtoN to ensure the integrity of the FATDMA reservations, and monitoring of the AIS AtoN.

Base Station

All AIS AtoN and AIS base stations are to be identified in accordance with the most recent edition of Recommendation ITU-R M.585.

Supporting documentation

AMSA guidelines for use of AIS on offshore structures.

Last updated: 4 August 2020