Classes And Exams (L)
From Daryl Stout
@HURRICAN to All
on Tue Oct 13 00:07:22 2020
(CONTINUED FROM LAST MESSAGE)
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 paying the appropriate fee, and submitting the required forms.
NOTE: The FCC issued a Report and Order on May 21, 2015, eliminating
the Vanity Callsign fee, and that change took effect on Sept. 3, 2015.
Those who had previously paid a fee for their Vanity Callsign(s) are NOT eligible for a refund.
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 keep the callsign originally issued to you by the FCC, or ask
for (and receive) a new "sequential callsign", you won't have to pay for renewal, as sequential callsigns are "free". 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.
However, members of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), who
either keep their original callsign that was issued by the FCC, or a
newly issued sequential (non-vanity) callsign, 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.).
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. If the amateur radio licensee
from these areas is an Amateur Extra Class licensee, the first letter
is likely an "A" instead of a "K".
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. And in 2019, I changed
to the WX4QZ callsign, changing the emphasis from weather to railroad
crossing safety. 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, grandparent, 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 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 in the ham
radio bulletins door on The Thunderbolt BBS. The list is obtained
from HamData.Com -- which gets its data from the FCC database. Note
that during a government shutdown, this data will NOT be updated,
since the FCC is closed.
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