Search and rescue radio frequencies

Search and rescue radio frequencies DEFAULT

SAR-IF: The Search and Rescue Interagency Frequency

Terms and Conditions: Access to Industry Canada’s National Simplex VHF Channel (149.080 MHz) by the Search and Rescue Community

Issue 1

Spectrum Management and Telecommunications

Posted on Industry Canada website: August 22, 2013
Note: Footnotes 1 and 2 added in May 2014


The following outlines the amended terms and conditions, effective September 2, 2011, under which the National Search and Rescue Secretariat and affiliated agencies may share use of Industry Canada's national frequency 149.080 MHz. These terms and conditions do not replace the need for individual licences for radio stations used by various agencies or individuals involved in search and rescue activities.

For further information, please contact your local Industry Canada Spectrum Management office. A complete list of Industry Canada offices is provided in Radiocommunication Information Circular 66 (RIC-66), available at the following Internet web site:

Table of Contents

  1. Part 1 – Introduction
  2. Part 2 – Authorization Process
  3. Part 3 – Licence Conditions
  4. Annex A
  5. Annex B

Part 1 – Introduction

The purpose of this document is to set out the terms and conditions under which organizations involved in search and rescue (SAR) operations in Canada may be authorized to share Industry Canada’s national simplex VHF radiocommunication channel (149.080 MHz). This channel will be referred to as the SAR-IF channel (Search and Rescue Interagency Frequency).

The use of this channel will be to facilitate interagency radiocommunications during SAR operations where no other practical means exist. The frequency may also be used for SAR exercises, with prior notice to Industry Canada. The channel is not, however, intended to create or replace existing radiocommunications networks used by agencies, teams, or units for internal communications. SAR organizations making use of this frequency should be aware that while Industry Canada will take measures to minimize potential interference to SAR operations on this frequency, Industry Canada cannot guarantee that interference will not occur during actual SAR operations or when exercises are being conducted. The SAR users will accept this possibility.

Part 2 – Authorization Process

SAR agencies or individuals seeking authority to use this channel will be required to apply to Industry Canada for a new licence, or to amend their existing licence by adding this frequency to their current complement of radio frequency channels. Additional fees are required when this frequency is added to a base station licence. No additional fees are applicable when adding this frequency to existing mobile licences. Footnote 1

  1. The departments/agencies listed at Annex “A” may apply directly to Industry Canada for use of the SAR-IF national simplex VHF radiocommunication channel (149.080 MHz), through the normal application process.
  2. Those organizations listed in Annex “B”, and any other entities not listed in either Annex, that are interested in applying to Industry Canada for use of the SAR-IF channel must first obtain a letter of endorsement from their respective sponsoring organization, certifying the need for access to the SAR-IF channel.

While this frequency may be deployed in maritime and aeronautical situations (see Part 3, Licence Conditions for conditions), agencies doing so must be aware that the authority for this frequency is not included with maritime and aeronautical authorizations associated with the vessel or aircraft. Additional land mobile licensing is required.

Applications should be submitted to the appropriate Industry Canada District Office.

Part 3 – Licence Conditions

Notification for SAR Exercises.

In the case of planned exercises by the SAR community that might involve use of 149.080 MHz by participants, particularly in areas where Industry Canada maintains active base stations operating on 149.080 MHz, the provincial/territorial Ground Search and Rescue Council of Canada (GSARCC) representative, or designate, must advise the appropriate Industry Canada District Office 48 hours in advance of such exercises.

Aeronautical Use Within the Canada/US Coordination Zone.

Use of this frequency in aircraft is permissible on an itinerant basis, subject to the normal constraints imposed by Transport Canada with respect to the approval of the installation of radiocommunication equipment on board aircraft. Within the Canada/US Coordination Zone, use by aircraft is restricted to those times when the aircraft is operating below 1000’ above ground level (AGL). Footnote 2 The Coordination Zone is broadly defined as those Canadian lands and waters lying within 120 km of the United States border.

Configuration, Interoperability and Encryption.

The SAR-IF should be configured for narrowband FM modulation (11K0F3EJN) as a standard practice; particularly within urban areas and the Canada/US Coordination Zone.

If, however, the provincial/territorial search and rescue authority determines that wideband FM modulation (16K0F3EJN) is more likely to facilitate interoperability within its jurisdiction, a wideband configuration is permitted for the SAR-IF. This decision should be communicated to all current and potential SAR-IF users in the jurisdiction. Prior consultation with the appropriate Industry Canada Regional Office is strongly advised.

Radios equipped with a Continuous Tone-Coded Squelch System (CTCSS) must be set to a CTCSS tone of 156.7 Hz when transmitting and receiving on the SAR-IF channel. The SAR-IF channel shall not be used in an encryption mode unless all authorized users during a particular operation are in possession of the required equipment to monitor the transmission.

Users are also reminded that the VHF simplex frequency 149.080 MHz is analog, and therefore transmissions are not secure. General radiotelephone operating procedures outlined in RIC-22 (noted below) must be followed by all users, including standard phraseology and calling procedures, and use of the phonetic alphabet.

Other Applicable Standards and Specifications.

Other applicable standards and specifications applicable to the use of the SAR-IF include, but are not necessarily limited to:

Annex A

The Departments/Agencies authorized to submit direct applications to Industry Canada for use of the SAR-IF (149.080 MHz) for SAR purposes only are:

FEDERAL departments

  • Department of National Defence (DND) / Canadian Forces (CF)
  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) / Canadian Coast Guard (CCG)
  • Parks Canada (PC)
  • Public Safety Canada (PSC)
  • Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)
  • Transport Canada (TC)


  • Any emergency medical service (EMS)
  • Any municipal fire department
  • Any municipal, provincial, territorial, or First Nation police department
  • Provincial/Territorial Emergency Measures Organizations (EMOs)
  • Provincial/Territorial Fire Commissioners departments

Annex B

The proposed users of the SAR-IF who must first obtain a letter of endorsement from a sponsoring organization (Annex A) in order to apply to Industry Canada for use of the SAR-IF (149.080 MHz) for SAR purposes only are:

Proposed userSponsoring organization
Amateur Radio operators working in support of SAR operationsAppropriate Provincial/Territorial GSAR Council of Canada representative, or designate
Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary (CCGA) membersCanadian Coast Guard
Civil Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA) membersCanadian Forces
Ground SAR volunteer teams or organizationsAppropriate Provincial/Territorial GSAR Council of Canada representative, or designate
Any private or commercial air or marine operator chartered by or under the control of one of the departments or agencies noted in Annex “A”, for the purpose of SAR training and response.Appropriate Annex “A” department or agency.
Any other municipal, provincial, or territorial entities not listed in Annex “A”Appropriate Provincial/Territorial GSAR Council of Canada representative, or designate
Any other federal entities not listed in Annex “A”National Search and Rescue Secretariat

Sample Letter

[Sponsoring Department/Agency address or letterhead]

[Sponsoring Department/Agency unique reference or file number]


Industry Canada – Spectrum
(Regional/District Office list & addresses)
Attn: Director

Dear Sir/Madam:

Re: Letter of Endorsement: Application for use of the SAR Interagency Frequency Industry Canada National VHF Simplex Frequency 149.080 MHz

With respect to the attached application for use of Industry Canada’s national simplex VHF radiocommunication channel (149.080 MHz), known as the SAR Interagency Frequency (SAR-IF), I wish to confirm that the organization or individual listed below:

Full Name of Organization:
(include Regional/National affiliation as well as local designation)
Contact Person & Title:
(should match name on licence application)
Base of Operations:
(City/Town, Prov/Terr)

is engaged in the provision of search and rescue services to the public, and therefore requires access to the frequency. The above-noted applicant has also received a copy of the SAR-IF Terms and Conditions issued by Industry Canada for use of frequency.

Thank you for your assistance in this regard.


[Name of Sponsoring Department/Organization/Agency]
[Address, Contact Telephone, email address]


Footnote 1

Mobile radios are limited to a maximum effective radiated power (ERP) of 30 watts. For international coordination purposes, Industry Canada staff should reference COSER #132374.

Return to footnote 1 referrer

Footnote 2

Aircraft radios using 149.080 MHz are limited to a maximum effective radiated power (ERP) of 5 watts. For international coordination purposes, Industry Canada staff should reference COSER #140451.

Return to footnote 2 referrer


International distress frequency

Radio frequency designated for emergency communication

An international distress frequency is a radio frequency that is designated for emergency communication by international agreement.


For much of the 20th century, 500 kHz was the primary international distress frequency. Its use has been phased out in favor of the Global Maritime Distress Safety System.

Use of some distress frequencies is permitted for calling other stations to establish contact, whereupon the stations move to another frequency. Such channels are known as distress, safety and calling frequencies.[1]

Satellite processing from all 121.5 or 243 MHz locators has been discontinued. Since February 1, 2009, the U.S. Coast Guard only monitors distress signals from emergency position indicating radio beacons (EPIRBs) that broadcast using digital 406 MHz signals.[2] Digital 406 MHz models became the only ones approved for use in both commercial and recreational watercraft worldwide on January 1, 2007.[3]

Maritime Mobile Service frequencies[edit]

International distress frequencies, currently in use are:

  • 2182 kHz for medium range maritime voice use. The US Coast Guard has said "beginning August 1st, 2013 the Coast Guard would no longer monitor 2182 kHz".[4] Many other MRCCs, for example most in Northern Europe, now only have MF capabilities and no HF.[5]
  • Several HF maritime voice frequencies exist for long-distance distress calls:[6]
    • 4125 kHz
    • 6215 kHz
    • 8291 kHz
    • 12290 kHz
    • 16420 kHz
  • Marine VHF radioChannel 16 (156.8 MHz) for short range maritime use
  • 406 MHz to 406.1 MHz is used by the Cospas-Sarsat international satellite-based search and rescue (SAR) distress alert detection and information distribution system

Digital selective calling frequencies[edit]

Several maritime frequencies are used for digital selective calling (DSC), and they are also monitored for DSC distress signals:[6][7]

  • 2.1875 MHz
  • 4.2075 MHz
  • 6.312 MHz
  • 8.4145 MHz
  • 12.577 MHz
  • 16.8045 MHz
  • 156.525 MHz, Marine VHF radio Channel 70

Aeronautical frequencies[edit]

Search And Rescue frequencies[edit]

  • 123.1 MHz: Aeronautical Auxiliary Frequency (International voice for coordinated SAR operations).
  • 138.78 MHz— U.S. military voice SAR on-the-scene use. This frequency is also used for direction finding (DF).
  • 155.160 MHz
  • 172.5 MHz— U.S. Navy emergency sonobuoy communications and homing use. This frequency is monitored by all U.S. Navy ASW aircraft assigned to a SAR mission.
  • 282.8 MHz— Joint/combined on-the-scene voice and DF frequency used throughout NATO
  • 406 MHz / 406.1 MHz - Cospas-Sarsat international satellite-based search and rescue (SAR) distress alert detection and information distribution system
  • Emergency position-indicating radiobeacon station (EPIRB)
  • Search and rescue transponder (SART)
  • Survival radio

Amateur radio frequencies[edit]

VHF, UHF calling frequencies can also be used to make emergency calls[edit]

Band Global Region 1
Europe, Africa
Region 2
The Americas[8]
Region 3
13 cm
23 cm 1294.500 MHz (U.S.)
33 cm N/A 927.500 MHz (U.S.) N/A
70 cm 433.500 MHz (EU) 446.00 MHz (U.S.)
1.25 m N/A 223.500 MHz (U.S.) N/A
2 m 145.500 MHz (EU) 146.520 MHz (U.S. & Canada) 145.000 MHz (India, Philippines, Indonesia & Thailand)
4 m 70.450 MHz (EU) N/A
6 m 52.525 MHz
10 m 29.600 MHz
12 m RTTY/Packet only

MF and HF frequencies[edit]

Band Global[9][10]Region 1[11]
Europe, Africa
Region 2[12]
The Americas
Region 3[13]
15 m 21360 kHz
17 m 18160 kHz
20 m 14300 kHz
30 m
40 m n/a 7110 kHz7060 kHz

7240 kHz 7275 kHz

7110 kHz
60 m n/a
80 m n/a 3760 kHz3750 kHz

3985 kHz

3600 kHz
  • Emergency/Disaster Relief Interoperation Voice Channels of the amateur radio Global ALE High Frequency Network:[14]
    • 3791.0 kHz USB
    • 7185.5 kHz USB
    • 10145.5 kHz USB
    • 14346.0 kHz USB
    • 18117.5 kHz USB
    • 21432.5 kHz USB
    • 24932.0 kHz USB
    • 28312.5 kHz USB

Other frequencies[edit]

  • Citizens band (CB) radio (not available in all countries)
    • Emergency channels 9 (27.065 MHz AM) and 19 (27.185 MHz AM)
  • GMRS: 462.675 MHz is a UHF mobile distress and road information calling frequency allocated to the General Mobile Radio Service and used throughout Alaska and Canada for emergency communications; sometimes referred to as "Orange Dot" by some transceiver manufacturers who associated a frequency with a color-code for ease of channel coordination, until the creation of the Family Radio Service, in 1996, "GMRS 675" or Channel 6/20 on mobile radios today. Its bandwidth can vary between 12.5, 25 and 50 kHz, and is also allocated to Ch. 20 on 22-channel FRS/GMRS "blister pack" radios. It can have a repeater input frequency of 467.675 MHz, and a tone squelch of 141.3 Hz. After FCC deregulation of simplex FRS/GMRS radios, FRS users may transmit up to 2 watts on the GMRS emergency channel 20 (462.675 MHz) with 141.3 Hz CTCSS, or channel 20-22.
  • MURS: 151.940 MHz (only available in the United States)
  • FRS: FRS channel 1: 462.5625 MHz (carrier squelch, no tone or sub-channel), channel 3: 462.6125 MHz[15] and channel 20: 462.6750 MHz (141.3 Hz CTCSS - channel 20, code 22 or channel 20-22).
  • UHF CB (Australia): Emergency channels 5/35 (476.525/477.275 MHz).[16] Channel 5 is the designated simplex and repeater output emergency channel, while channel 35 is used as the repeater input frequency for duplex operation. UHF CB is only available in Australia and New Zealand.
  • PMR446 (Europe): Channel 1 analog (446.00625 MHz, CTCSS 100.0 Hz, channel 1/12), Channel 8 analog (446.09375 MHz, CTCSS 123.0 Hz, channel 8/18).

See also[edit]


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Search and Rescue

Last Updated: December 2, 2019, 9:29 am

US > Virginia > Search and Rescue


Input Frequencies:


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Search and Rescue

Appalachian Search and Rescue Conference (ASRC)

Frequency  License  Type  Tone  Alpha Tag  Description  Mode  Tag 
155.16000 WPEZ758 MCSQASRC Alpha National SAR Common FM Emergency Ops 
155.28000 WPEZ758 MCSQASRC Charlie ASRC Repeater Talkaround FM Emergency Ops 
155.20500 WPEZ758 MCSQASRC Echo Virginia Statewide EMS FM Emergency Ops 
155.22000 WPEZ758 MCSQASRC Foxtrot ASRC SAR Tactical FM Emergency Ops 
155.17500 WPEZ758 MCSQASRC Golf ASRC SAR Tactical FM Emergency Ops 
155.23500 WPEZ758 MCSQASRC Hotel ASRC SAR Tactical FM Emergency Ops 
155.26500 WPEZ758 MCSQASRC India ASRC SAR Tactical FM Emergency Ops 
155.29500 WPEZ758 MCSQASRC Juliet ASRC SAR Tactical FM Emergency Ops 
151.62500 WQEU871 MCSQASRC Lima ASRC Business (Non-SAR) FM Emergency Ops 
150.77500 WPEZ758 MCSQASRC Romeo ASRC SAR Tactical FM Emergency Ops 
150.79000 WPEZ758 MCSQASRC Sierra ASRC SAR Tactical FM Emergency Ops 
155.28000 WPEZ758 RMCSQASRCRepeater ASRC SAR Repeater FM Emergency Ops 

Commonwealth of Virginia - Search and Rescue Program (COVSAR)

Frequency  License  Type  Tone  Alpha Tag  Description  Mode  Tag 
155.16000 KR6011 M91.5 PLCOVSAR Natl SAR National SAR FMN Emergency Ops 
155.20500 KVJ989 M91.5 PLCOVSAR StatwdEMS VMED Statewide Mutual Aid (EMS) FMN Emergency Ops 
155.89500 KVJ989 M91.5 PLCOVSAR VDEM Tac VDEM Tactical FMN Emergency Ops 
154.28000 KVJ989 M91.5 PLCOVSAR VFIRE21 VFIRE21 Statewide Mutual Aid (Fire) FMN Emergency Ops 
154.26500 KVJ989 M91.5 PLCOVSAR VFIRE22 VFIRE22 Statewide Mutual Aid (Fire) FMN Emergency Ops 
154.29500 KVJ989 M91.5 PLCOVSAR VFIRE23 VFIRE23 Statewide Mutual Aid (Fire) FMN Emergency Ops 
155.34000 KVJ989 M91.5 PLCOVSAR VMED28 VMED28 HEAR 1 FMN Emergency Ops 

US Coast Guard

Frequency  License  Type  Tone  Alpha Tag  Description  Mode  Tag 
345.00000  CSQUSCG SAR US Coast Guard Search & Rescue AM Federal 

Ham Radio Emergency- Using Public Safety Frequencies

Land Search and Rescue Teams

Frequency  License  Type  Tone  Alpha Tag  Description  Mode  Tag 157.20000   BMSAR Ch 24A Ground to Air, Helicopter Winching FM Emergency Ops 156.12500   BMSAR Ch 62A Emergency Calling Channel FM Emergency Ops 147.47500   BMSAR Ch 92 Land SAR (Also Duplex Ch 94 and Duplex Ch 95) FMN Emergency Ops 155.35000   BMSAR Ch 91 Land SAR (Also Duplex Ch 94) FMN Emergency Ops 152.85000   BMSAR Ch 95 Land SAR (Duplex) FMN Emergency Ops 147.35000   FSAR Ch 96 Land SAR (Link) FMN Emergency Ops 161.79375   BMSAR Ch 243 Team Working Channel FMN Emergency Ops 161.80625   BMSAR Ch 244 Team Working Channel FMN Emergency Ops 158.64375   BMSAR Ch 531 Search and Rescue Dogs Association (SARDA) FMN Emergency Ops 158.65625   BMSAR Ch 532 Search and Rescue Dogs Association (SARDA) FMN Emergency Ops 160.71875   BMSAR Ch 623 Team Working Channel FMN Emergency Ops 160.73125   BMSAR Ch 624 Team Working Channel FMN Emergency Ops 156.16875   BMSAR Ch 631 Repeater Input FMN Emergency Ops 156.18125   BMSAR Ch 632 Team Working Channel FMN Emergency Ops 160.76875   BMSAR Ch 633 Repeater Output FMN Emergency Ops 160.78125   BMSAR Ch 634 Team Working Channel FMN Emergency Ops 156.21875   BMSAR Ch 641 Team Working Channel FMN Emergency Ops 156.23125   BMSAR Ch 642 Team Working Channel FMN Emergency Ops 160.81875   BMSAR Ch 643 Team Working Channel FMN Emergency Ops 160.83125   BMSAR Ch 644 Team Working Channel FMN Emergency Ops 157.26875   BMSAR Ch 851 Team Working Channel for RAF Mountain Rescue Teams FMN Emergency Ops 157.28125   BMSAR Ch 852 Team Working Channel FMN Emergency Ops 161.86875   BMSAR Ch 853 Team Working Channel FMN Emergency Ops 161.88125   BMSAR Ch 854 Team Working Channel FMN Emergency Ops 

Radio frequencies and rescue search

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Ham Radio Emergency- Using Public Safety Frequencies

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