The certificate comes in various forms, all of which are operators licenses. The most basic is “The Restricted Certificate in Radiotelephony (VHF only),” which is achieved by passing Module 1 of the SRC (Short Range Certificate) exam. This certificate entitles you to use a standard voice only ( no DSC, see below) VHF. This is what many boats are currently fitted with.
Should you require to operate the new digital calling radios (DSC) and be capable of using the safety equipment under the new GMDSS, then you will be required to complete both Module 1 and Module 2 of the SRC, thereby acquiring the full Radio Operators Short Range Certificate.
Most VHF courses now focus on passing both modules together and there are plans to discontinue Module 1 only exams after 2005. So in the future, there will be only the standard SRC cert. Anyway, the course is easy to do and the exams are simple and straightforward. There are many course providers around the Island ( see useful links).
In Northern Ireland, the provision of the Short Range Certificate in VHF is delegated by the Radio Communications Agency to the Royal Yachting Association (RYA). The RYA certifies course providers which then provide the exam. This is a one-day exam.
Note: That as of 1st June 2004, Any RYA VHF license acquired after this date cannot be used to apply for a ships radio license for a boat subject to the radio licensing laws of the Republic of Ireland.