Operating in USA

If i was to visit the USA and having a full UK licence what would i need to do? Would i need to apply for something or take some exam? Sean M0GIA

In reply to M0GIA:

The USA have a reciprocal licensing Agreement with the UK. You have to bring your UK license and adhere to US band and power limits. You also have to identify by callsign area eg W2/M0GIA.

See here: http://www.arrl.org/FandES/field/regulations/io/#foreign

73 Heinz

In reply to M0GIA:
Hi Sean

Aha… Heinz beat me to it but yes just operate as Wx/M0GIA where x is the US call area you are in.

You can also take US exams here in the UK if you really want a US callsign but you will find your “reciprocal” privileges are very good (better than lower US classes) when operating under the conditions above so I wouldn’t bother trying to get a US licence and call for a short trip (and you need to use a US mailing address when applying to the FCC for a US licence)

Don’t fall into the trap of getting a quickie Technician class US call because you will then be obliged to use it when you are there but you will have less privileges than Wx/M0GIA will give you. You would need a US Extra class call to be equivalent.

I got my Extra class call when I was living there simply because W1/G0AZS was becoming an annoying mouthful.

The bottom line is… you are all set with what you have!

73 Marc G0AZS (K1UG)

In reply to G0AZS:

W6/MM0FMF/P is an even bigger mouthful! Sean, don’t forget that 2m/70cms are quite different due to the USA having a larger allocation. 2m is 144-148MHz and 70cms is 420-440MHz. If you can’t transmit in the extended (to us Europeans) parts of the bands you may find yourself with few people to talk to.


In reply to MM0FMF:

2m is 144-148MHz and 70cms is 420-440MHz. If you can’t
transmit in the extended (to us Europeans) parts of the bands you may
find yourself with few people to talk to.

And if you do operate in the extended portion of the band you are in breach of your licensing conditions. Under our UK licence when operating under a reciprocal licence agreement abroad we are only able to operate on common frequencies to both our licence and the country in which we are operating.

You would probably not be challenged by anyone on VHF/UHF in the US but some kind person might report you if you operated say above 3.8mHz and were heard in the UK doing it.

I am told that getting a US licence is not that hard. You can do the exam on line and then you can use all the US frequencies without any chance of a problem.

Steve GW7AAV

In reply to GW7AAV:

And if you do operate in the extended portion of the band you are in breach of
your licensing conditions


CEPT Tr 61-01 Appendix 1 Section says:

“… The CEPT Licence permits utilisation of all frequency bands allocated
to the Amateur Service and Amateur Satellite Service and authorised in the
country where the amateur station is to be operated.”
(TR 61-01 Editition 4 February 2008)

The UK licence Section 16(2)a says:
"… comply with the requirements applicable to the use of wireless telegraphy apparatus at the location of operation in the host country."
(MM0FMF online licence issued 04/01/2007)

I read that as my licence telling me to do what CEPT says when abroad and CEPT says I can use whatever frequencies locals can use.


In reply to MM0FMF:

It looks like I am out of date again!

There was a question in my old RAE book about operating abroad and the answer was only frequencies in common with both countries. One test paper I did said something like “When operating in the USA can you use the 220mHz band?” the answer was “No, you are only permitted to operate on frequencies, modes and at power levels common to both countries.”

It does make you wonder about things like operating aeronautical mobile. If I set off from W6 signing W6/GW7AAV/AM at what point must I stop transmitting, when I touch down or halfway over the Atlantic or on entering UK airspace?

…and why can’t we be allowed aeronautical operation. A tethered hot air balloon might be just the thing for working a bit of DX on VHF and above.

In reply to GW7AAV:

at what point must I stop transmitting

When you leave US airspace!


In reply to MM0FMF:
Thanks for the replys and the ARRL link from Heinz, i knew there was at least a couple of OM’s on here who have operated from across the pond.

I thought about the Tech licence i think it is? I remember a few years back i used to those online mock exams and found the Tech easy. Just for a holiday though i will just use my own call. Sean M0GIA

In reply to M0GIA:
Definitely not the Tech Sean - very restrictive. Unless you get an Extra class stick to CEPT. Once you have a US licence you HAVE to use it when in the US and Possessions so you can never use CEPT there again.
I go once a year to visit family and bought a hand-held (cheap there) to get the extended 2m band otherwise you are unlikely to talk to anybody. Likewise no -one but Advanced and Extra class licensees can operate on Phone below 3.8MHz so unless you have the band extensions you will not work too many locals.

Going again in April. I usually carry everything hand-held, IC7000, PSU in carry on but I am a bit concerned about what will happen now.

Have fun
John G8XTJ (W6/G8XTJ)

In reply to G8XTJ:

As the others state, I would stick with the CEPT. I used my UK call with W2/ for years before getting around to sitting the FCC tests. I only did that because I got sick of the long call.


In reply to K1YMI:
Thanks for the advice, i will stick with my CEPT for now. Sean M0GIA

In reply to M0GIA:


I would have throught that W*/M0GIA would have a curiousity factor to it and maybe help you get contacts. Most times that I’ve operated under CEPT in Europe, I’ve found that I have been popular and usually have had a pile up of people wanting to work me. The only exception was when I tried operating as SV8/G4OIG/P in Kefalonia last year on 2m FM and that was down to me having a very restricted Greek vocabulary. I should have taken a sideband rig and / or HF.

73 Gerald

In reply to G4OIG:

I had to explain W6/MM0FMF to all the guys I worked. It seems few had heard any MM0 prefixes on the HF bands even though it’s been allocated since 1996. I think that had I been W6/GM0FMF then nearly everyone would have sussed what was happening. But yes Gerald, it did lead to contacts especially on the repeaters. From near the summit of W6/CT-020 you can raise a lot of repeaters with 5W and a rubber duck. I did have a nice contact from near there but that was because the other amateur was walking past when I was calling! Small world time, he was an American but his mother was from Bolton.

When you go Sean, make sure you take a printed copy of your licence with you. I also took a copy of TR 61-01 with me. Whenever you operate you need to have them and some ID like your passport with you. I didn’t expect to every have to show them but it’s a requirement of CEPT operation that you do. I expected a lot more grief off the staff at the airports when my carry on lugage was X-rayed but 2 handhelds in the laptop bag, a camera, some JTAG probes, lots of cables and 12x AA disposable cells didn’t raise an eyebrow. My 200ml of water did get spotted so they were looking at the screen. I imagine having 4 candles, some coiled wires and a mechanical alarm clock would cause a panic though: http://tinyurl.com/ya7jz78 :slight_smile:


In reply to MM0FMF:
Thanks Andy, All noted on taking my licence as well as my passport as it is a requirement.

Do not know if i will be taking a radio or spending some $'s when i am there. Sean M0GIA

In reply to M0GIA:

You can get some real bargains… a VX8 and softcase works out at £247 inc local taxes. You’re allowed to bring back items worth upto £340 on return to the UK so there’s no duty or VAT to pay on that. The UK price for the same is around £394.

But there’s no UK warranty coverage on that. If it fails you’ll need to get it back to the US or see if Yaesu UK will honour the US warranty. The 6 year (5 in Scotland) warranty the Sale of Goods Act gives you doesn’t apply if you import the stuff either.

As the man says… you pays your money and takes your chance.



I bought my FT817 in the US a few years back (when the exchange rate was even better). I signed W7/GW8OGI/P or /M and had plenty of QSOs on HF CW and on 2m/70cms, the latter mostly via repeaters and found the US amateurs very friendly and helpful. The call aroused plenty of curiosity and no doubt got me lots of calls.

The '817 developed a fault a few months after I got back and I had to return it to Yaesu US who fixed it free and sent it back. The only sour note was that in spite of being marked “faulty goods returned for free repair under warranty” as advised by HMRC, the Post Office confiscated it until I paid the VAT on it (again) and a large charge for them collecting the VAT, even though I had to take time off work and drive the 50 mile round trip to the sorting office. I managed to claim the VAT back, but the Post Office kept their extortion money.


PS I recently bought a £70 antenna analyser kit from down under, the Post Office charged me £3 VAT and £8 to collect the £3 VAT !!! Oh and I still had to do the 50 mile trip to collect it!