• Classes And Exams (E)

    From Daryl Stout@HURRICAN to All on Sat Jan 7 00:05:00 2017

    Sequential Versus Vanity Callsigns

    Callsigns are normally issued in a sequential callsign system by
    the FCC, for each license class. Once issued a callsign, you can
    choose to keep it...or apply for a vanity callsign, after submitting
    the required forms. There is no fee for a U.S. ham radio callsign,
    sequential or vanity.

    Holders of sequential ham radio callsigns keep them for the 10 year
    term...if they apply for a new callsign, it's the next sequential one
    issued, unless they apply for a vanity callsign instead.

    There is a POSSIBILITY that effective in early, 2017...holders of
    Vanity Callsigns will be REQUIRED to keep these for the full ten (10)
    year license term. Several Extra Class Amateur Radio Operators have
    apparently been grabbing up all the 2x1 and 1x2 callsigns, to "prevent
    the No-Code Extras" from obtaining them. Apparently, one such ham had
    never had a radio, but had 18 callsigns in 16 months.

    When applying for a vanity callsign, you'll be required to list
    twenty-five (25) "requested" calls...as there is a chance that the ones
    you have requested are currently in use by licensed hams, or they have
    not passed the 2 year grace period after expiration.

    If you renew your sequential callsign or vanity callsign through the
    FCC ULS website (http://wireless.fcc.gov/uls), there is no longer a fee
    to renew. Members of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), can have
    their license renewed FREE OF CHARGE at the appropriate time, from an
    ARRL/VEC VE Test Session. This also applies for a license modification
    (change of address, etc.). Non-ARRL members are required to pay a license processing fee. Also, if you go through a license renewal service, such
    as the W5YI renewal on the QRZ website, you will have to pay a processing
    fee, whether you have a vanity callsign or not.

    U.S. amateur radio callsigns are grouped by license class, starting
    with an A, K, N, or W...in the format of 1 or 2 letters, followed by
    a digit from 0 through 9...depending on the callsign district they
    were living in when they first got their license...followed by 1, 2,
    or 3 letters. Callsigns from Alaska begin with KL7, callsigns from
    Hawaii begin with KH6, callsigns from Puerto Rico begin with KP4, and
    callsigns from the U.S. Virgin Islands begin with KP2. Callsigns for
    other U.S. territories may be a bit different per the license classes,
    noted below.

    Minimum License Class: Callsign Group: Callsign EXAMPLES:

    Novice 2 by 3 WA1BCD, KE2FGH
    Technician or General 1 by 3 K5IJK, N3LMN, W5OPQ
    Advanced 2 by 2 KA6RS, KK7TU
    Amateur Extra 1 by 2 or 2 by 1 K8VW, N9WX, W0YZ

    Since some of the sequential callsign groups have had all of the
    regular callsigns issued, the issued sequential calls fall to the
    lower license class. With a vanity callsign, you can apply for a
    callsign in this group, if you're of the appropriate license class.
    Callsigns that have been expired more than 2 years are returned to
    the "unused callsign pool", and they can be requested as a vanity

    The higher amateur radio license that you have, the more choices you
    have for a vanity callsign (i.e. Amateur Extra Class licensees can pick
    from any group...while General Class licensees are limited to either
    the 2 by 3 or 1 by 3 callsign group).

    Amateur Extra Calls usually begin with an A, but can also begin with
    either a K, an N, or a W. Advanced callsigns usually begin with a K,
    but they can also begin with an N or a W. Technician or General callsigns usually begin with an K, N, or a W...and Novice callsigns usually begin
    with either a K or a W.

    However, a callsign is NOT ALWAYS indicative of a ham radio operators
    actual license class. My first callsign, N5VLZ, issued in August, 1991,
    was one of the last "1 by 3" callsigns issued for Arkansas. I held that
    for 18 years, when I changed to the AE5WX callsign in June, 2009. Then,
    in December, 2012, I changed to the WX1DER callsign...which reflects the
    domain of my personal homepage, and of the BBS. Besides, I know several
    Amateur Extra Class ham radio operators who still have their Novice
    class callsign format.

    If you are already a licensed ham radio operator, and one of your
    family members, who was also a ham radio operator (parent, brother,
    sister, aunt, uncle, etc.), dies (becomes a Silent Key), you may provide
    proof of their death (such as a death certificate) to the FCC, along with
    a vanity callsign application and fee, and request that callsign anytime
    within 2 years after that ham radio operators death. After that 2 year
    period, anyone can apply for it.

    You must hold the appropriate license class to request that vanity
    callsign. In other words, if the callsign of a deceased relative was
    from the Amateur Extra Class group, you will have to become an Amateur
    Extra Class licensee in order to request it.

    Note that once you receive your new callsign...either from the
    sequential or vanity callsign system...your old callsign is no
    longer valid. However, as long as your license is not expired, you
    keep the privileges you had before, but you're now using the new

    A list of the latest callsigns issued can be found elsewhere in this
    area, and in the ham radio bulletins. The list is obtained from
    HamData.Com -- which gets its data from the FCC database.

    Posted by VPost v1.7.081019
  • From Daryl Stout@HURRICAN to All on Tue Oct 13 00:06:52 2020

    License Exam Locations And Requirements:

    The American Radio Relay League (ARRL) website (www.arrl.org) has a
    place to search for license exams in your area. Click on Exams, enter
    the search criteria, and click on search. Once you find a test session
    and location that meets your liking, click on Learn More, and then
    either write, call, or email the contact person for more details.

    Concerning the license exam sessions, some will require pre-registration
    (no walk-ins), others will allow walk-ins (there may be a time limit for walk-ins to arrive), while others will permit both. Check with the VE
    Team contact person for details. These can be at libraries, meeting
    rooms, restaurants, etc. If an examinee has serious health issues in
    traveling to an exam, the VE Team may do an "on demand session" at
    their location...whether at their residence, or even in a hospital
    room...in short, "VE Teams do make house calls". However, these need to
    be requested as far in advance as possible...so that a VE Team can be

    NOTE: With the advent of COVID-19, many sessions are going to remote
    testing, drive-in/drive-thru testing, or low contact in person testing,
    to minimize the spread of COVID-19.

    Plus, the number of examinees at a test session, or a time limit to enter
    the exam session, may be LIMITED. Once that number is reached, or the time limit for walk-ins is reached, no further examinees will be allowed to
    enter the test session. If pre-registration is required, and there is a
    limit on examinees at a particular session, you need to "get your name
    in the hat", by contacting the VE Team in charge of the session as soon as possible. Otherwise, you may be "locked out" from the test session.

    Also, with pre-arrangement, pre-payment may be required. However, if
    on exam day, if you have a valid reason where you can not make the test
    session as originally planned...due to a last minute emergency, conflict,
    etc., you may be able to arrange a refund by contacting the VE Team in
    charge, and providing an explanation. However, any refunds are at the discretion of the VE Team. But, if you do not contact the VE Team Contact person, and are basically "a no show", your pre-payment is non-refundable.
    If you miss the test session, it'll be up to you to arrange a future test session, if you're wanting to obtain a ham radio license, or an upgrade... basically, starting the process over again.

    It's wise to contact the person overseeing the exam session for any
    special information, or for any last minute changes or cancellations.
    You can also go to:


    Enter the desired criteria (in one category), and click on search.

    Those at hamfests may have a large amount of people wanting to test...
    so, allow yourself plenty of time at one of these sessions. If you go to
    a hamfest for the license exam ONLY, you won't be required to pay a fee
    to enter the hamfest. But, you will be required to pay the license exam
    fee, applicable parking fees, highway tolls, etc.

    However, if you plan to explore the hamfest as well, you will also have
    to pay the hamfest admission fee. If you pass the exam, you're likely to
    want to look for a new ham radio transceiver...so, taking an exam at a
    hamfest can be VERY beneficial to you.

    In the United States, the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) conducts
    a National Exam Day Weekend the last weekend of April and September every
    year. Check with local area ham radio clubs to see if they plan to do
    license exam sessions in conjunction with these special weekends.

    As noted above, a MINIMUM of three (3) VE's are REQUIRED for ANY license
    exam session. If less than that show up, the exam session can NOT take
    place. If only a Technician Class exam will be given, the VEs must be at
    least General Class licensees. If only Technician and General exams will
    be given, the VEs must be at least Advanced Class licensees. But, if all license exams (Technician, General, and Amateur Extra) are to be given,
    the VEs MUST be Amateur Extra Class licensees.

    When going to a test site, bring:

    1) The ORIGINAL and a PHOTOCOPY of your license, if you are already
    licensed, or if the licensed is expired (even if more than 2 years).
    The photocopy of your license will be sent off with your exam
    materials. As noted earlier, if you previously held a General,
    Advanced, or Amateur Extra Class license, you're eligible for
    partial exam credit...but still have to pass the Technician Class
    exam to get back on the air with a new callsign.

    2) A Photo ID, such as a Drivers License, Passport, State ID, etc.
    Lacking a photo ID will REQUIRE two (2) forms of identification,
    such as a Birth Certificate, with the appropriate seal affixed, a
    utility bill, bank statement, or other piece of mail addressed to
    you, are alternate forms of ID. Students can bring a library card,
    or a minors work permit, if under 18 years of age.

    3) Appropriate information for the NCVEC Form 605, detailed elsewhere
    in this bulletin/message thread.

    4) The ORIGINAL and a PHOTOCOPY of any applicable Certificate Of any
    Successful Completion Of Examination (CSCE), which are valid for 365
    days after initial issuance for upgrading. If you take a test on
    July 1 of a non-leap year, the CSCE expires at midnight on June 30
    of the following year. However, if you take a test on July 1, of a
    leap year, the CSCE expires at midnight on June 29 of the following

    An amateur radio operator who had previously passed the 5 words per
    minute (wpm) Morse Code test does NOT need to keep the CSCE showing
    that they passed Element 1, since the FCC removed the Morse Code
    requirement for any U.S. amateur radio licensee as of Feb. 23, 2007.
    Further details on CSCE's are later in this bulletin/message thread.

    Once you have a current license that matches what is on the CSCE, you
    can either keep the CSCE as a "novelty", or you may discard it. The
    photocopy of the CSCE will be sent off with the exam materials, but
    you MUST bring the ORIGINAL of the CSCE to obtain proper exam credit.
    This applies if you have taken, and passed another amateur radio
    license exam in the time before the current exam session...yet, the
    results of that previous session have not yet shown up in the FCC ULS
    database. It normally takes 1 to 2 weeks for the data to be posted.
    However, during a U.S. Government Shutdown, it may take quite awhile

    4) Cash, or a check payable to the appropriate Volunteer Examination
    team for the appropriate amount. It's currently $15 for ARRL VE Test
    Sessions (payable to ARRL/VEC), and it'll remain that way through
    2019. The fee may increase in future years, and the exam fee may be
    different for VEC groups other than the ARRL/VEC.

    5) A calculator, with ALL MEMORY FORMULAS CLEARED. You will be REQUIRED
    to prove to the VE Team that this is the case...and the VE Team will
    personally inspect the calculator to verify such!!

    WARNING!! Cheating in ANY form, will NOT be tolerated. This includes
    bringing a calculator without the formulas cleared, crib notes, using electronic devices (cellphone, iPhone, iPad, Smartphone, Android, etc.).

    The exams are different colors for each license class (noted below),
    and each exam booklet has at least five different sets of questions.

    Some ARRL/VEC VE Teams use the "Exam Maker" software to create a large number, and wide range of tests with possible questions, for even more questions. At MINIMUM, there could be 36 different exams for each license class...with or without graphics/schematic diagrams.

    So, trying to "copy answers" off of someone elses answer sheet will do
    you no good.

    In fact, if it is determined that an examinee is cheating, their exam
    will be TERMINATED, marked as FAILED, and the examinee will be ordered
    to leave the premises immediately! Please do NOT put yourself, or the VE
    Team into an embarassing situation. Cheating on a test could affect your ability to test at a future exam.

    Again, if it takes you a dozen or more tries to pass an exam...even if
    just barely...you have as much right to be on the air as someone who made
    a perfect score the first time. In short, you might as well "take the
    test legally". If you pass the test "just barely", it's the same as if
    you made a perfect score. If you fail the test "just barely", it's the
    same as if you missed every question on the test.

    You are basically ready to take the test, or you are not. Besides, the
    man or woman who graduates DEAD LAST in Medical School...is STILL...a
    DOCTOR. However, I might be leery of them doing a pelvic exam (females)
    or a prostate check (males) <GRIN!>.

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