Personal Locator Beacons (PLB)

This information is current as of July 2010.


Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) are designed for personal use in both marine and land environments. PLBs operate on a frequency of 406Mhz and come in two basic types - those which provide an encoded (GPS) location and those which do not.

When a beacon is activated, a satellite system is used to calculate the beacon’s location.

PLBs are not a substitute for EPIRBs and this information does not apply to EPIRBs.


  • Locating a distress site is usually much faster if the beacon signal provides a GPS location
  • PLBs operate for a minimum of 24 hours once activated
  • Risk mitigation becomes substantially easier on a large commercial vessel with many crew members and limited ability to monitor crew members and confined spaces.


A PLB is not a replacement for an EPIRB, but is a useful adjunct.

Indicative costs

PLB transmitters cost around $300.


PLBs are not mandatory for the master or passengers on recreational and small commercial vessels being operated on NSW waters.

Carrying a PLB does not satisfy the requirement to carry an EPIRB.

More information

More information about PLBs is available on the Australian Maritime Safety Authority - Beacons page or in their brochure Distress beacons (PDF).

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