Invalid prefix HB

Pro memoria
The correct prefix for Switzerland is HB9 (there are again alerts HB/…).

On a slightly different but related topic, when a UK amateur operates overseas under CEPT Recommendation T/R 61-01, the callsign used must not include a Regional Secondary Locator (RSL). It should be the unembellished UK callsign.

For example, if MM0FMF was operating from Madeira his callsign would be “CT9/M0FMF”. Not “CT9/MM0FMF”.

This rule equally applies to UK amateurs, including Northern Ireland licensees, operating from the Republic of Ireland! So GI4XYZ, for example, would become EI/G4XYZ.

Source: Paragraph 2.107 of the “Ofcom Amateur Radio Licence Guidance for Licensees”.

Walt (G3NYY)

Interesting point Walt - reading CEPT 61/01, it states:

The minimum requirements for a "CEPT radio amateur licence’’ will be:
 indication that the document is a CEPT amateur licence;
 a declaration according to which the holder is authorised to utilise an amateur radio station in accordance with this Recommendation in countries where the latter applies;
 the name and address of the holder;
the call sign;
 the validity;
 the issuing authority.

and (under conditions of utilsation):
2-3 When transmitting in the visited country the licence holder must use his national call sign preceded by the call sign prefix of the visited country as indicated in ANNEX 2: and ANNEX 4:. The call sign prefix and the national call sign must be separated by the character “/” (telegraphy) or the word “stroke” (telephony).

I would think that someone with a mailing address in Scotland would have a callsign starting with GM or MM on their licence and for the licence to be “CEPT Compliant” this is the relevant callsign. Are you saying Walt, that the “national call sign” is considered to be the call sign without the regional designator? so just G or M without the extra M??

It is important to remember that when operating abroad in another CEPT country, the CEPT regulations plus the local regultions apply NOT your home coutry licence conditions - hence for example a G station coming to Germany cannot operate portable on 6 metres as 6m portable operation is illegal in Germany, a US station travelling to Europe cannot operate in the 7.2 - 7.3 MHz band as this is not allocated to Amateur radio in any of the European countries etc. etc. Hence wording in the UK licence regarding the use of the reginal locator letter in the callsign is not directly relevant under CEPT - what your callsign is shown as on your licence is - hence if Andy’s UK licence says his callsign in MM0FMF, when operating in e.g. Germany he should sign DL/MM0FMF I believe.
If this wasn’t the case and regional letters/numbers should be dropped when operating under CEPT, Andrew VK1AD operating in Austria would become OE/VKAD (1 is the regional/state indicator for the ACT in Australia) and if VK4AD (Queensland) or VK3AD (Victoria) were in Austria at the same time, they would be using the same callsign.

The problem goes back to the decision of the Home Office in the UK many years ago to have the regional letter change when amateurs travel over borders within the UK. I have long said that if this decision could be reversed the system would be simplified and in fact a reduced number of callsign configurations would be required (possibly dropping the need for the use of the 2 and/or the M blocks). In such a set-up the call sign used by an amateur is the one issued to the home location plus, when needed, with an extension (this logic is used in Australia and other countries e.g. VK1AD / Portable VK3 indicates that Andrew lives in the ACT but is currently operating in Victoria). That would mean that Andy with his MM0FMF callsign would call as MM0FMF / Mobile MW while driving in Wales or MM0FMF / Portable MI when operating portable in Northern Ireland. This would then allow MI0FMF, M0FMF, MJ0FMF, MD0FMF MW0FMF, MG0FMF callsigns to be allocated to other amateurs (of course if M was dropped completely - a new G / GM etc. call would have to be allocated - but I think you can see the principal). If someone moves their home QTH over an inter-UK border they would have to apply for a new call sign (this happens in Australia and other countries today).

In any case - after all that - back to Walt’s original point - I would expet Andy to operate as DL/MM0FMF/P in Germany, not DL/M0FMF/P as his licence (and unofficially identifies Andy as MM0FMF, not M0FMF.

Annex 2 in CEPT 61/01 clearly states that for Switzerland the prefix to the national callsign when operating in Switzerland is HB9. This is what Heinz was pointing out - I think the operators are getting this right, just those spotting are taking the SOTA prefix instead of the CEPT prefix.


… ok if operators are getting this right but there are still the alerting and self-spotting activators :wink: and unfortunately some chasers copy trustingly/blindly what the activator has indicated :upside_down_face:

The advice on CEPT has changed several times since I moved to GM in 2000. First it was use the callsign with no modifier, then it was use the call printed on the licence. Now it has returned to use the callsign with no modifier.

So I operated abroad for many years as DL/M0FMF etc. Then I reluctantly used W6/MM0FMF etc. which I always thought was wrong. My call is M0FMF unless I’m in the other parts of the UK when I happily insert the extra letter, But being W6/MM0FMF seems wrong, I’m in California so I prefix with W6 but I’m not in GM so why add in the M? But rules is rules and that was the advice at the time.

Now it’s full circle and back to just the callsign and no modifiers. So this year I hope to be F/M0FMF and DL/M0FMF.

All this was made farcical by my licence having the incorrect call printed on from when I notified my new address in GM until 2007. It should have said MM0FMF as soon as the address changed, but remained at M0FMF. The licence and BR68 at the time stated you must use the callsign printed on the validation document when operating at the station address. Which meant when operating from home as M0FMF and MM0FMF/m as soon as I drove my car off my property! Which is obviously wrong. :wink:

I have a degree of sympathy with the legal bods at Ofcom who raised the issue of secondary locators recently. The UK method of changing the callsign seems so very odd as nobody else does it and it does make things complex.

I understand that newly issued and newly revalidated licences will not have a regional secondary identifier printed on them once Ofcom get their procedures caught up.

Colin G8TMV

Political? Ofcom trying to combine the UK into a single DXCC entity?

No, one proposed set of changes was that a licence issued to a station in Scotland would include the MM, so I would still be MM0FMF. But would become MM0FMF/MW when in Wales. And they could issue MW0FMF to a station in Wales at the same time as I was MM0FMF because they’d be different! Can you see any flaws with that?

Correctly it was dropped as unworkable and as most UK stations can find their backsides with both hands, they have few problems with finding the correct secondary locator. Others are left scratching their heads at how anyone would come up with such an ass-backwards system. But we did and, strangely, most of us like it. I can remember when first licenced it was always a novelty to drive the 20miles or so to the Welsh border and become a GW.

ISTR they finally fixed my call on the licence when we went paperless.

I know that I do! It is the same logic that in team sports there is a national team for every country in the UK, and that in the small things we seem to be more proud of being from Cornwall or Yorkshire than we are of being British!

We’re an old country with a long history and we are entitled to our eccentricities!


I hope this will remain so forever - BREXIT no or yes :slightly_smiling_face:

To my mind the Swiss association prefix HB instead of HB9 mainly contributes to this confusion. Most associations use the ITU prefix as association prefix. Removing this peculiarity by renaming the Swiss association to HB9 would be the best solution in my eyes.

Yes, I know DM also does not stick to the ITU prefix of Germany. This is due to the German alps association using DL already. I am happy to hear suggestions to solve this.

73 de Michael, DB7MM

I am not saying it. Ofcom, the UK Regulator, is saying it in their Guidance Notes.

Walt (G3NYY)

And this is the recent change Ed. Before it said use the printed callsign from the validation document. As I said previously, we have gone full circle but at least now the guidance makes sense. The RSL (region secondary locator), the M or W etc. inserted into a callsign is used to say you are operating from Scotland or Wales. It was obviously wrong to say I should use MM0FMF (M0FMF operating in Scotland) when I was in (W6/OE/F/LX/PA/EI/CT3/EA8)… how can I be in GM and another country at the same time?

It is possible to posit that the licence docs are still wrong. They say to insert and M when in Scotland and for anyone resident in England that makes sense. My doc would say M0FMF and I’d become MM0FMF. It doesn’t say we’ve already done this if you live in Scotland so don’t do it again. My validation doc says MM0FMF so to follow the words exactly I should me MMM0FMF !

The problem with that is - as I said - Ofcom are NOT the regulatory authority when you are in another country - the CEPT plus the local country authority is. Local regulations apply.

As far as I read the CEPT rules - the callsign as printed on your “foriegn” licence - as seen by the other country - is what should be prefixed by the country code plus slash. When inspected by the authorities in another country they will need to see a photocopy of your UK licence along with the CEPT document.

Andy was a bad example for me to chose as although he lives in Scotland his licence shows M0FMF - so in his case when in France he should use F/M0FMF/P (for example).

As for the comment that dropping the secondary locator would be unworkable, replacing it with a slash sufix - how come this is the standard in many other countries where it works fine. Perhaps the comment was that Brits don’t like change - which was echoed in a later comment. - That I understand.

IMHO something will have to be changed, at some point, at the latest when Scotland, Wales, Yorkshire, Cornwall or whoever leaves the union, as the present change your call sign as you go over the border process wouldn’t work anymore.


ARRRRGH!! - Well I think most comments on this thread on the UK system echo that it is not the best construction or the clearest solution.

Just thinking - someone living in scotland gets his callsign as MM0MMM and then, goes maritime mobile (if that is still allowed?) as you say the guidelines say to add in the M - that would make this amateurs callsign MMM0MMM/MM :grinning:

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Over the years I have worked stations who were using the prefixes HB9, HB1, HB2, HB3, HB4, HB5, HE8, and most recently HB20. All were in Switzerland.

Also, I am old enough to remember a time (late 1950s and very early 1960s) when Swiss stations did not use the /P suffix when they were operating portable. Instead, they changed their HB9 prefix to HB1.

Walt (G3NYY)

A good point, Walt - I remember some such prefixes, too. I also note from the database that there are four HB3 activators and six HB3 chasers, so there is some justification for continuing to use HB as long as we remember that HB0 is Liechtenstein!


With age 70 I am fortunately not in a position to confirm that (hi) but I am convinced that all this was always done rule-compliant.

BTW, I opend this thread to say that the prefix HB is not valid for the time being, that’s it, thanks! :wink::slightly_smiling_face:

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And it’s very useful. Don’t worry about drift in the thread, your post got an important point across “make sure you use the correct prefix”.

Logic would suggest that HB on its own will never be valid as without a number there would be no way of knowing whether a station was in Switzerland or Liechtenstein… unless of course one of these two countries changes to a completely different prefix.

73, Gerald G4OIG