Float-free emergency position indicating radio beacons (EPIRBs)

From 1 January 2019, fishing vessels between 7.5 and 24 metres in length that operate outside of enclosed waters, will be required to have a float-free EPIRB installed onboard.

On this page:

Vessels this applies to

Commercial fishing vessels that:

  • are more than 7.5 metres in length and less than 24 metres in length, and
  • operate outside of enclosed waters (i.e. outside harbours, estuaries and other inland or sheltered waters).

EPIRB requirements for other commercial fishing vessels have not changed.

Meeting the requirements

To meet the requirements, you must have a suitable EPIRB and bracket installed on your vessel, and the EPIRB must be registered, all by 1 January 2019.

EPIRBs and brackets

You will need a class 2 EPIRB 1 with a category 1 bracket 2 that:

  • meet the performance standards of IMO Resolution A.810(19)
  • meet the Australian/New Zealand standard AS/NZS 4280.1
  • are coded for New Zealand
  • are labelled with the New Zealand radio label R-NZ or the RCM label

1 Class 2 EPIRBs can be activated manually or by an automatic water activation

2 Category 1 brackets are designed to automatically deploy the EPIRB when submerged at depth


Be aware that EPIRBs purchased outside of New Zealand may not meet the required standards outlined above, or be coded in New Zealand. EPIRBs must be coded so they can be registered in New Zealand.

If you have a class 2 EPIRB with a category 2 bracket (manually deployed), your local retailer will be able to advise if there’s a category 1 bracket for your model of EPIRB.

Remember a float-free EPIRB can also be manually removed from its bracket, and manually activated without being submerged.

If you are deciding whether to upgrade or replace your current EPIRB, it may help to consider:

  • if the battery will soon expire; and weigh up
  • the cost to upgrade (battery and/or new bracket) versus purchasing a float-free EPIRB combination with bracket.

Go to beacons.org.nz for a list of retailers selling EPIRBs in New Zealand:

EPIRB retailers[http://www.beacons.org.nz]


When installing the EPIRB on your vessel, you must ensure it is mounted in a position:

  • on the outside of the vessel structure in a clear open space
  • where it can be reached in an emergency and protected from accidental damage and exposure to water
  • that allows it to float free (when auto-released) without becoming trapped by the sinking vessel or entangled by masts or rigging.

Contact your local maritime officer or recognised surveyor for more help about installing a float-free EPIRB and bracket:

Contact a maritime officer

Contact a recognised surveyor

Remember to add the EPIRB and bracket including Hydrostatic Release Unit to your safety equipment list and maintenance plan.


You must register your EPIRB with the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ).

Go to beacons.org.nz to register your EPIRB online:

Register now[http://www.beacons.org.nz]

Contact a maritime officer

Getting help

Contact a Maritime Officer for help with your operational and health and safety requirements.

Contact now
Register your beacon with the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ).

Register your beacon for FREE

Submit your registration through post or email, or do it online now!
Register now

Contact us

If you have any questions about the new float-free EPIRB requirements, talk to our operator certification team.

+64 4 473-0111