IMO has revised its guidance on Cospas-Sarsat International 406 MHz Beacon Registration Database (IBRD)

Need for EPIRB registration and associated databases

The provisions relevant to EPIRB registration apply to all ships on all voyages, and are as follows: “Each Contracting Government undertakes to ensure that suitable arrangements are made for registering global maritime distress and safety system (GMDSS) identities and for making information on these identities available to rescue coordination centres on a 24-hour basis. Where appropriate, international organizations maintaining a registry of these identities shall be notified by the Contracting Government of these assignments.”

It is crucial that 406 MHz EPIRBs are registered, and that the registration data be available to SAR authorities at all times. Experience has shown that EPIRB registration data is either critically important or otherwise often helpful in the majority of SAR cases involving an EPIRB alert. 406 MHz EPIRBs should be registered regardless of whether they are carried aboard ships or other marine craft, and registrations should be reinforced by national requirements.

International Beacon Registration Database

The International Cospas-Sarsat Programme processes 406 MHz EPIRB alerts and routes them to the identified SAR authorities. It also operates the International Beacon Registration Database (IBRD) for 406 MHz beacons, operational since January 2006. The IBRD is hosted on the internet at, (with online help capabilities. MSC.1/Circ.1210/Rev.1 Annex, page 2 I:\CIRC\MSC\01\1210-Rev-1.doc)

Cospas-Sarsat provides the IBRD as a readily available means for beacon owners to register their beacons. The registration information contained in the IBRD is available 24-hours-per-day, seven-days-per-week for assisting SAR Services in SAR operations. Administrations that maintain their own national registers are encouraged to upload their registration data to the IBRD to make their national beacon registration data available as quickly and easily as possible to SAR personnel on a 24-hour basis. The IBRD can be used not only for registering 406 MHz EPIRBs, but also 406 MHz emergency locator transmitters (ELTs) carried on board aircraft, and personal locator beacons (PLBs) designed for personal use.

The IBRD is designed to support:

  • beacon owners who wish to directly register their beacons;
  • Administrations to make their registration data easily available to other SAR authorities in an emergency by uploading that information to the IBRD; and
  • SAR authorities that need to efficiently access beacon registration data to assist persons in distress.
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