The Vanity Call Sign System

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Hello everybody and welcome back to Everything Hamradio! News that was released back at the end of July came to fruition yesterday with the end of Vanity Call Sign charges! Some of you are probably thinking, “Duh, this came out last month I already knew that” or maybe, “Wow that’s great, not that I’m complaining but why did the FCC stop charging for vanity call signs?” or maybe even “What is a Vanity Call Sign?”

What is a Vanity Call Sign?

A vanity call sign is a call sign that you can request be issued to you from the FCC. Once you have your license, you can apply to an available call sign, and if you are lucky enough and no one else has applied for it already, then you will “trade” your old call sign in on your vanity one. When I was first licensed, my FCC issued call sign was KC5PWP. The call sign was fine, but I just wanted something a little more personal for me. So, once I upgraded to tech plus, which I believe was the requirement at the time, I applied for and obtained the call sign K5CLM, the last three are my initials.

Under the vanity call sign system, you can even apply for and obtain a loved ones call sign after they pass away, as long as they are close relative(i.e. spouse, children, grandchildren, stepchildren, parents, grandparents, stepparents, brothers, sisters, stepbrothers, stepsisters, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews ). There is normally a two-year waiting period after someone passes away before their call sign is available, but if you are one of the above, you can be except from that. A club can even apply for a deceased members call sign to use as a club call sign, granted they have written approval from a living family member and that the person was a bona fide member of the club at some point during his/her life.

OK, I have my license, but I want a Vanity Call sign. How do I choose?

So you got your license but you either don’t like your call sign, or just want something special to you for your call sign. I totally understand! I’ve known a couple of people that got stuck with some doozies! Mine wasn’t to bad, but I still wanted something else. Some people like me, choose their initials, or a hobby, or maybe even just something that is easier to say or shorter. However, when selecting what call sign you are going to want to apply for, there are a few things to remember.

First, the FCC does not limit the Vanity call sign choice numeral (0-9). For example, you can be a K2-land addressee, and have a K6 (California) type call if you so desire.

The FCC has four groups of call signs, Groups A, B, C and D.

  • Group A –
    • 1×2, 2×1 – Available only to Extra class Licensees
  • Group B –
    • 2×2(beginning with the letter “A”) – Extra
    • 2×2 (beginning with the prefix N, K or W)  – Extra and Advanced
  • Group C –
    • 1×3 (beginning with prefix N, K or W) – Extra, Advanced, General or Technician
  • Group D –
    • 2×3 (beginning with the prefix K or W) – Extra, Advanced, General, Technician and Novice

Unless you have a mailing address specific to Alaskan, Pacific or Caribbean areas, you would not be able to obtain certain call signs where the second prefix letter is an L, H or P in conjunction with certain call area numbers (e.g., KL7??? is limited to Alaskan addressee only, KH6??? to Pacific Island addressee only, KP4??? to Caribbean addressee only, etc).

Is There A Call sign I Can Not Request?

Yes there are. For several different reasons, there are call signs that you are unable to request. Below is the twelve call sign groups that you are not allowed to request and if you did they would be denied.

  1. KA2AA-KA9ZZ, KC4AAA-KC4AAF, KC4USA-KC4USZ, KG4AA-KG4ZZ, KC6AA-KC6ZZ, KL9KAA- KL9KHZ, KX6AA-KX6ZZ;
  2. Any call sign having the letters SOS or QRA-QUZ as the suffix;
  3. Any call sign having the letters AM-AZ as the prefix (these prefixes are assigned to other countries by the ITU);
  4. Any 2-by-3 format call sign having the letter X as the first letter of the suffix;
  5. Any 2-by-3 format call sign having the letters AF, KF, NF, or WF as the prefix and the letters EMA as the suffix (U.S Government FEMA stations);
  6. Any 2-by-3 format call sign having the letters AA-AL as the prefix;
  7. Any 2-by-3 format call sign having the letters NA-NZ as the prefix;
  8. Any 2-by-3 format call sign having the letters WC, WK, WM, WR, or WT as the prefix (Group X call signs);
  9. Any 2-by-3 format call sign having the letters KP, NP or WP as the prefix and the numeral 0, 6, 7, 8 or 9;
  10. Any 2-by-2 format call sign having the letters KP, NP or WP as the prefix and the numeral 0, 6, 7, 8 or 9;
  11. Any 2-by-1 format call sign having the letters KP, NP or WP as the prefix and the numeral 0, 6, 7, 8 or 9;
  12. Call signs having the single letter prefix (K, N or W), a single digit numeral 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and a single letter suffix are reserved for the
    special event call sign system.

I believe that this link with go into further detail as to the rules regarding what can and can not be requested, however at the time of this article the FCC website is down where this is hosted due to a hardware upgrade, so I can not verify. I will verify it after the weekend to see if it is correct, and correct it if not.

So What About The Cost?

As I hinted about in the first paragraph of this post, back in July it was announced that the cost of having a vanity call sign was changing. Last year, in 2014, the FCC announced that it would be raising the fee from $16.10 to $21.40 for a 10 year license. This marked the largest fee hike in many years, going up $5.30! I’m glad that my license didn’t come up for renewal over the past year, because the announcement that was made back in July was to do away with the fees all together! The FCC explained that the cost of processing the fees exceeded the amount that the fees brought it, so they just decided to drop it all together rather than raising the price again! Thank you FCC!

So do you have a vanity call sign already and you are ready to renew? Do you have a FCC issued call sign and you want to apply to a vanity one? Or maybe you are just coming up on the end of your license term and you need to renew? In the next post(since the ULS is down this weekend), we are going to be talking about how you renew your license and how to apply for a vanity call sign.

With that, I would like to thank all stations for your kindness and participation…oh wait, that’s the closing to our net. Thank you everyone for coming back to Everything Hamradio. I hope that you are enjoying my blog. If you have any questions about today’s post or about anything else, please leave it in the comments below. If you have not done so already, please subscribe to my email list, so you can get updates as to when I publish a new post. You can also, grab my RSS feed and put it in your favorite news reader and get them that way. Also, please share this post with your friends, like me on Facebook, and follow me on Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. Links to each of them can be found under the social menu option at the top of the page.

Until next time…

73 de Curtis, K5CLM

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