Ham radio connects people from around the world. And if you want to join this world as an amateur radio operator, you need a call sign.
A call sign is an operator’s unique identifier. Call signs help operators communicate efficiently between stations.
In the UK, there are many types of call signs. The call signs you can use depend on your licence type, and regulations differ by licence and country.
This guide explores the different types of call signs available in the UK. Keep reading to learn how to navigate the exciting world of amateur radio.
What Are the Types of Ham Radio Licence in the UK?
Operating a ham radio in the UK entails set rules and regulations for each licence type. There are three types of ham radio licences:
Foundation: This entry-level licence gives the operators access to a limited range of frequencies on a low power output of 10 watts. This licence requires a short training course and a straightforward exam with 26 multiple-choice questions.
Intermediate: The intermediate licence allows radio operators a wider range of frequencies. As an intermediate licence holder, you can boost your power output from 10 watts to 50 watts. The exam is much more comprehensive, with 46 multiple questions.
Full: This advanced licence gives holders access to the broadest range of frequencies across many bands. It also allows a maximum power output of 400 watts, allowing you to communicate effectively with stations worldwide
Each type of licence has its requirements and privileges. Depending on how and where you want to communicate, you’ll want to obtain the licence that best suits your needs.
What Are the Available Ham Radio Call Signs in the UK?
Call signs are a critical aspect of ham radio in the UK, serving as an identifier for over 60,000 licenced operators in the country.
Over the years, the UK has utilised several call sign series with an increasing number of prefixes. These call sign prefixes align with the international prefixes to indicate the operator’s country of origin.
By examining the prefix and letters, you’ll know where they reside, the estimate of the year and the type of licence of the holder.
For Each Type of licence
Each licence type has a unique callsign allocation. The format breaks down into different licence types, with a combination of letters and numbers allowing operators to identify the type of licence the user holds. Knowing the unique structure lets you identify the operator through the airwaves.
The Foundation licence is an entry-level licence allowing holders up to 10 watts of total power output with a limited range of frequencies. It’s the perfect licence to allow operators to explore the world of ham radio and begin building the skills and experience for more advanced applications.
Foundation licence holders are assigned to call signs with a unique format of M7XXX. The M7 is the prefix, and the XXX is the unique identifier. These call signs restrict specific modes and frequencies, ensuring novice operators can operate the airwaves safely and efficiently.
The foundation licence's most common call sign prefixes are M3, M6 and M7. This prefix is determined depending on the issue date of the licence.
The Intermediate licence is a mid-tier licence allowing operators to access a more extended range and a power output of up to 50 watts. Specifically, they can use frequency ranges from 1.8 to 30 MHz within the High Frequency (HF) range. They can also access 50MHZ to 52 MHZ and 70MHZ to 70.5 MHz within the very high frequency (VHF) range.
The intermediate licence is for ham radio enthusiasts who want to progress their experience and knowledge. It allows operators to use more sophisticated equipment and communicate over greater distances.
The call sign format for intermediate licence holders is 2E0XXX, where 2E0 is the prefix and XXX is the three-letter unique identifier. Former prefixes included 2E1XXX.
Operators with this prefix will have more diverse communication since they have greater access to various modes and frequencies.
Full licence holders can access a wide range of operating modes and frequencies to communicate with other stations worldwide. The frequency ranges accessible to full licence holders are very low frequency (VLF), low frequency (LF), medium frequency (MF), high frequency (HF), very high frequency, and ultra-high frequency (UVF) and microwave bands.
Licence holders can even operate on frequencies outside the standard amateur bands like satellite, aeronautical and maritime communication. With access to nearly all amateur radio modes and frequencies, the full licence is the most versatile option available in the UK.
The call sign format for Full licence holders is M0XXX. The second number may vary depending on the original issue date of the licence. Formerly, full licence holders used the GX prefix for G1-G8 with a combination of two or three letters or M1 or M5 prefixes followed by three letters.
Call sign blocks are identifiers that let you navigate the frequencies and regulations of operators in different countries.
Call sign blocks are a group of letters and numbers assigned to individual countries. You can identify the operator’s country of origin when you see these call sign blocks.
For instance, the call sign blocks MAA-MZZ and GAA-GZZ are for domestic use in the UK.
You’ll need to identify those call sign blocks to communicate effectively with other countries. The call sign block VPA-VQZ is assigned to the Oceanic Islands and Antarctica, while the block ZBA-ZJZ is for the South Atlantic, Middle East and Gibraltar.
By using the correct call sign for your licence type and knowing the signs of other types, you can build connections worldwide. These call signs also help regulatory bodies like Ofcom ensure responsible airwaves use.
What is the Ham Radio Call Sign Structure?
The ham radio call sign structure identifies the operator and their location. The structure is a combination of letters and numbers, with the prefix determined by the licence level. Every amateur radio operator has a call sign, which serves as a unique identifier assigned to them.
What Are the Callsigns Prefixes in the UK?
Callsign prefixes in the UK consist of a three-letter country code followed by letters and numbers. Currently, the prefixes include M7 plus three letters for Foundation holders, 2E0 plus three letters for Intermediate, and M0 plus three letters for Full licences.
Got Questions? Contact Moonraker Today!
Understanding call signs is integral to becoming a licenced ham radio operator. Now you can take what you’ve learned and identify operators at other stations worldwide.
If you’re ready to elevate your ham radio experience, Moonraker has you covered. We offer a wide range of amateur radio kits and accessories from the best brands to ensure you have the necessary equipment. Call for any questions on choosing the right equipment or answering technical questions.