® | Official Canadian Boating License

Marine Distress Signals

All boaters are required to assist those in distress if it can be done without endangering their own life or the safety of their vessel.

If you have an operating VHF marine radio or cell phone, you must also contact the nearest Joint Rescue Coordination Center (JRCC) or the Marine Communication Traffic Service (MCTS) center and inform them of the type and location of the distress signal that you saw or heard.

It is an offence to send a false distress signal by whatever means. If a rescue unit is responding to a false call for help, it is unavailable for a real emergency, which could cost somebody their life.

Distress signals are not permitted during training sessions or during non-distress situations.


A sailboat with a VHF marine radio used as a marine distress signal.


Study Guide