VANITY CALL SIGNS
Everything You Wanted To Know
And A Few Things You Need To Know
by Tad K3TD (Wake Forest NC)
Call Signs are FUN!
Our call signs are how we are known to our fellow hams, and in many cases the most important way we are known. Your call sign is unique - and unless you already have a vanity call, it was probably assigned to you sequentially by the FCC ULS system based on your initial license class and when you first licensed. So, do you LIKE it? Many hams do, and that is a very good thing. But others would like to have something so important as their call sign personalized for them. Maybe a call that was once held by a relative or your mentor or Elmer, or a call that contains your initials, or some other combination of letters and a numeral that is significant to YOU.
Vanity call signs are a call sign that you request and are granted by the FCC, within their standard call sign requirements based on your license class, which calls are available and in a some cases where you live.
There are many THOUSANDS of call signs available if you would like to select your own! Here are some examples based on your license class:
- Extra class: While 1x2 and 2x1 Extra class calls (W4NC and NC4A are
examples) are in very short supply, there are MANY 2x2 Extra class
call signs available that have a Prefix of AA-AL followed by a
numeral and 2 more letters such as AB4CD, AF4NC, etc.
- Advanced and Extra class: THOUSANDS of 2x2 calls with a prefix of
KA-KZ, NA-NZ or WA-WZ (NC4DX and WR4AB for example)
- Technician, General, Advanced and Extra class: THOUSANDS of 1x3
calls with K, N or W as the first letter such as K4RTS, N4ABC,
W4ZDF, and THOUSANDS of 2x3 calls with KA-KZ or WA-WZ such as KZ4ABC
As mentioned above, here are a few things you need to know:
- Per FCC rules, when a call sign is cancelled or expires the original
licensee or their close relatives have 2 full years to apply for
reinstatement. This means everyone else must wait 2 years + 1 day
to apply. As an example, N4VT expired on 10/23/2015. Unless you
are the former holder of N4VT or his/her close relative, you must
wait until 10/24/2017 to apply for N4VT. You can use the AE7Q web
site referenced below to determine whether a call is available by
verifying the Available Date.
- You are not limited to having the numeral 4 in your call sign. If
you choose to you can select any Region 1-10 for your vanity call sign.
- Some vanity call prefixes are reserved for amateurs with mailing
addresses in Alaska, Puerto Rico or Hawaii which are FCC call sign
Regions 11, 12, 13. In addition, some call sign combinations are
prohibited by the FCC or reserved for future use. Review the FCC
Amateur Radio Call Sign Allocations chart for full details.
Interested in learning more? Use the information and links attached to help you decide!
- Come up with a list of 1 to 25 calls you are interested in based on
your personal preferences and interests
- Use the AE7Q web site to enter your calls, one at a time, into the
field titled "Show License, Trustee and Application History". The
result returned will show whether the call you are interested in is
available now, available at a later date, or already in use. NOTE -
some calls are reserved for amateurs with mailing addresses in
Alaska, Hawaii or the Pacific territories, and Puerto Rico and the
Caribbean territories. Others are restricted by the FCC . Review
the FCC Amateur Call Sign Allocations document for more information.
- Use the FCC ULS to submit your vanity application and list 1 to 25
calls in your order of preference. If at least one of your calls is
available at the time you submit your application, you will be
awarded a new vanity call in 19-21 days. NOTE - if two or more
amateurs request the same vanity call on the same date, the FCC will
awards it to whichever application is randomly selected first to be
processed without regard to the time the applications were filed.
Still have questions? Feel free to reach out to me at my email address
Good luck finding a great call, and 73!
FCC Amateur Radio Call Sign Allocations
Tad Danley, K3TD (previously K1UM, K3TD, NZ3I, KB3PF, WA3TGR)
Primary stations licensed to Amateur Extra class operators.
|1-10 ||K, N, or W, and two letter suffix; ||2 |
| ||two letter prefix with first letter A, N, K, or W ||1 |
| ||two letter prefix with first letter A ||2 |
|11 ||AL, KL, NL, or WL ||1 |
|12 ||KP, NP, or WP ||1 |
|13 ||AH, KH, NH, or WH ||1 |
Primary stations licensed to Advanced class operators.
|1-10 ||Two letter prefix with first letter K, N, or W ||2 |
|11 ||AL ||2 |
|12 ||KP ||2 |
|13 ||AH ||2 |
Primary stations licensed to General, Technician, and Technician Plus class operators.
|1-10 ||K, N, or W ||3 |
|11 ||KL, NL, or WL ||2 |
|12 ||NP or WP ||2 |
|13 ||KH, NH, or WH ||2 |
Primary stations licensed to Novice class operators, and for club and military recreation stations.
|1-10 ||Two letter prefix with first letter K or W ||3 |
|11 ||KL or WL ||3 |
|12 ||KP or WP ||3 |
|13 ||KH or WH ||3
The following call signs are not available for assignment:
- KA2AA-KA9ZZ, KC4AAA-KC4AAF, KC4USA-KC4USZ, KG4AA-KG4ZZ,
KC6AA-KC6ZZ, KL9KAA- KL9KHZ, KX6AA-KX6ZZ;
- Any call sign having the letters SOS or QRA-QUZ as the suffix;
- Any call sign having the letters AM-AZ as the prefix (these prefixes are assigned to other countries by the ITU);
- Any 2-by-3 format call sign having the letter X as the first letter of the suffix;
- 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);
- Any 2-by-3 format call sign having the letters AA-AL as the prefix;
- Any 2-by-3 format call sign having the letters NA-NZ as the prefix;
- Any 2-by-3 format call sign having the letters WC, WK, WM, WR, or WT as the prefix (Group X call signs);
- 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;
- 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;
- 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;
- 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.
FCC Amateur Radio Call Signs links of interest: