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Perspectives on UK Foundation license approach versus US equivalent


It’s not an issue other than not always easy to understand why people keep the lesser privileged licences especially when in some cases the FL and IL callsigns may have only been used for a few months each before advancing to a Full.


Indeed. Some people with multiple licences have also failed to understand that, whilst using the lesser privileged callsign, they are required to abide by the rules and restrictions which apply to that class of callsign - specifically in respect of the power limitation and the frequency bands available to them.

There have even been instances where M3, M6 and 2E0 callsigns have been heard on the 5 MHz band, under the pretext that the operator also holds a Full Licence!

Walt (G3NYY)


I originally kept my B call because people knew me by it after 12 years. Now I use the call I got after passing a CW test in 2002/3 and I haven’t used that old one for a long time. At first I was attached to it and kept it but now if I had to choose between one of the other I’d keep this one. Most people now know me by this one, the sentimental reasons to keep the old one are passed TBH.


Such an action of course skews the numbers, so that one amateur is counted as three unless some cross check in statistics is performed by OfCom. If the lower callsigns are not canceled the actual number of amateurs in the UK could be a lot less than is thought. Whether that error is a good or bad thing is open to opinions. Of course if each licence had to be paid for each year, I would expect the lower class licences would have been cancelled as soon as a higher level is taken out.



This was the response I received when I was trying to reinstate my current call sign (it all got sorted in the end) -

Dear Mr Evans,

Thank you for your email, the details of which have been noted.

The purpose of a call sign is to identify a station, be it a ship, amateur or any other station. The Radio Regulations reflect the agreement reached by the international community on how radio should be managed and provide that stations must be clearly identified. If a station has more than one call sign, its identity is ambiguous, placing the UK in breach of its obligations to the international community. As you have one station you should not have more than one call sign.

Therefore, in light of the above we must regretfully decline your request for an additional call sign.

We apologise that this may not be the desired response.

Kind regards

:: Denise Young
Licensing Associate
Spectrum Licensing"

It’s all a bit of a mess.

73, Colin


It is certainly a mess Colin and they compounded the issue some years ago by permitting licencees to buy back their former callsigns. IMHO, the letter you were sent does not make sense. When a licencee operates under one callsign they are identified by that callsign. If they have a second callsign, then when they operate using it they are identified by that callsign. What is the problem with that? If that gives the powers that be a sense of insecurity, then why do they allow club and special event callsigns where they don’t know who is operating?


It’s a weak reason for not wanting to allow multiple callsigns. If they said “no you cannot have more than 1” then they know someone would make a fuss. This way they hope someone will give up when given a technical-ish reason.


They allow full license holders to also apply for a short contest callsign if you meet their criteria. :man_shrugging:t2:


All the examples cited in the previous few postings refer to multiple callsigns which are all of the same class … i.e. Full. That is quite a different matter from allowing a person to hold two or more callsigns of different classes. Each class of licence is bound by a different set of rules.

On a different but related issue, in recent years there has been a great deal of inconsistency in the recycling of old callsigns - especially pre-war 2-letter calls. It used to be that old callsigns could only be reissued to a close, surviving relative of a deceased amateur, or exceptionally to a club with which the original holder was connected. Now, it seems old callsigns can be had for the asking. It is just necessary to claim that you are “a friend of the family” and Ofcom will reissue a callsign upon request. (Despite their claims to the contrary.)

Walt (G3NYY)


not always easy to understand why people keep the lesser privileged licences

It’s rather easy. They can call impolitely and if ignored use the other callsign. :poop:



Interesting email but I think there would need to be something more public from OfCom to constitute a ‘rule’.

When OfCom first told us to register on-line with the new lifetime licenses, there were problems using the on-line forms and a very helpful man at OfCom got both my licenses done on one phone call.

Why retain more than one? Sometimes it’s because one callsign (G8CPZ) sounds better in morse than another (M0ALC) or there’s a rarity factor. It really doesn’t matter why we do if Ofcom hasn’t explicitly ruled against it. For those of us, who for many years paid for both licences, I think we’ve earned to keep and use them.

I’ve only recently reverted to using my first callsign (issued in 1968). Maybe it’s an age thing.

73, Andy (M0ALC / G8CPZ)