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What is the NATO Phonetic Alphabet in Canada?

March 3, 2023

The International Radiotelephony Spelling Alphabet, commonly known as the NATO phonetic alphabet, is a set of code words used to clearly communicate the letters of the Roman alphabet over radio and telephone. The code was devised through the collaboration of several international agencies to make sure that letters can be easily distinguished from each other despite difficulties like language barriers, differences in pronunciation and poor-quality sound.

The NATO phonetic alphabet is often used in ship-to-ship communications via VHF marine radio and plays a key role in avoiding miscommunication when conveying vital information to search and rescue in the event of an emergency.

Code words of the NATO phonetic alphabet

The NATO phonetic alphabet is internationally recognized and is commonly used in Canada and throughout the world.


A Alfa N November
B Bravo O Oscar
C Charlie P Papa
D Delta Q Quebec
E Echo R Romeo
F Foxtrot S Sierra
G Golf T Tango
H Hotel U Uniform
I India V Victor
J Juliett W Whiskey
K Kilo X Xray
L Lima Y Yankee
M Mike Z Zulu

Learn more about marine communication with Drive a Boat Canada

There are a lot of skills recreational vessel operators must have in order to boat safely and in compliance with Canadian boating regulations. Effective marine communication using the NATO phonetic alphabet is one of many! Take the Transport Canada-approved online boating exam to learn everything you need to know and obtain your boat license, which is required for all recreational boaters in Canada.