A unique call sign is assigned to each amateur station during the processing of its license applications. Each new call sign is assigned sequentially using the sequential call sign system, which is based on the alphabetized regional-group list for the licensee's operator class and mailing address. The station is reassigned its same call sign upon renewal or modification of its license, unless the licensee applies for a change to a new sequentially assigned or vanity call sign on FCC Form 605.
The vanity call sign system offers you the opportunity to request a specific call sign for your primary station and for your club station. A vanity call sign is selected by the FCC from a list of call signs requested by the station licensee or license trustee.
When transmitting in conjunction with an event of special significance, an amateur station may transmit the identification announcement using a special event call sign. Substituting a special event call sign may help call attention "on-air" to a station's participation in the special event and to the unique opportunity for the amateur service community to exchange greetings with the station.
Sequential Call Sign System
Each call sign has a one letter prefix (K, N, W) or a two letter prefix (AA-AL, KA-KZ, NA-NZ, WA-WZ) and a one, two, or three letter suffix separated by a numeral (0-9) indicating the geographic region. Two letter prefixes that are designated for regions 11-13 are not available in regions 1-10. Certain combinations of letters are not used. When the call signs in any regional-group list are exhausted, the selection is made from the next lower group. The groups are:
|Group A - Amateur Extra Class|
|Primary stations licensed to Amateur Extra class operators.|
|Region||Prefix||Letters in Suffix|
|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|
|Group B - Advanced Class|
|Primary stations licensed to Advanced class operators.|
|Region||Prefix||Letters in Suffix|
|1-10||Two letter prefix with first letter K, N, or W||2|
|Group C - General, Technician, and Technician Plus Classes|
|Primary stations licensed to General, Technician, and Technician Plus class operators.|
|Region||Prefix||Letters in Suffix|
|1-10||K, N, or W||3|
|11||KL, NL, or WL||2|
|12||NP or WP||2|
|13||KH, NH, or WH||2|
|Group D - Novice, Club, and Military Recreations Station|
|Primary stations licensed to Novice class operators, and for club and military recreation stations.|
|Region||Prefix||Letters in Suffix|
|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|
|Geographic Region-based Numerals|
|Region||States & Other Areas||Numeral|
|1||Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont||1|
|2||New Jersey and New York||2|
|3||Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland and Pennsylvania||3|
|4||Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia||4|
|5||Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas||5|
|7||Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming||7|
|8||Michigan, Ohio and West Virginia||8|
|9||Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin||9|
|10||Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota||0|
|12||Caribbean Insular areas:|
|Commonwealth of Puerto Rico except Desecheo Island||3 or 4|
|13||Hawaii and Pacific Insular areas:|
|Baker or Howland Island||1|
|Palmyra or Jarvis Island||5|
|Kingman Reef||5 followed by suffix letter K|
|Hawaii except Kure Island||6 or 7|
|Kure Island||7 followed by the letter K|
|Wake, Wilkes, or Peale Island||9|
|Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands||0|
|14||(unofficial). Outside the United States|
Vanity Call Signs
The FCC offers amateur radio licensees the opportunity to request a specific call sign for a primary station and for a club station. A vanity call sign is selected by the FCC from a list of call signs requested by the station licensee or the club station license trustee. Military recreation stations are not eligible for a vanity call sign. To make the request for a vanity call sign, you can use either the Universal Licensing System or Form 605 Main Form and Schedule D.
Also refer to the many frequently asked questions about vanity call signs.
Obtaining Vanity Call Signs
You can obtain a vanity call sign using either the Universal Licensing System or FCC Form 605, Main Form and Schedule D.
There are up to three different request types for requesting vanity call signs, depending on whether the call sign is to apply to a primary or a club station. The requestor may list up to twenty-five call signs in order of preference. The exact prefix, numeral, and suffix must be given for each call sign. Requests stated in general terms such as, "Any call sign with my initials" or "Any call sign having the prefix (or suffix)______" will be dismissed. The first assignable call sign on the list for which the requestor is eligible will be shown on the license grant for the requestor's station and the original call sign will be vacated.
Objections to the assignment of call signs requested by another licensee or a club station trustee will not be entertained at the FCC. However, this does not hamper any party from asserting such rights as it may have under private law in some other forum. The FCC does not consider an individual to be a former holder where the call sign was originally obtained through bribery, fraud, favoritism or other improper means. A club station trustee of a club that has been assigned a vanity call sign is not eligible to apply for any additional vanity call signs for the club.
Note: You cannot receive a vanity call sign from a call sign group for which your operator class is not eligible. For example, if you are operator class T (technician), you can only receive call signs from groups C & D. If you request a call sign from groups A or B, your application will be dismissed by the Commission.
Call Sign Availability
A call sign is normally assignable two years following license expiration, surrender, revocation, set aside, cancellation, void ab initio, or death of the grantee. Where a vanity call sign for which the most recent recipient was granted pursuant to an exception to the two-year period, but the grantee was ineligible for the exception, is surrendered, cancelled, revoked or voided, the call sign is not assignable for 30 days following the date such action is taken, or for the period for which the call sign would not have been available to the vanity call sign system pursuant to Section 97.19(c)(2) or (3) but for the intervening grant to the ineligible applicant, whichever is later. Refer to the Sequential Call Sign System for how call signs are sequentially assigned and the grouping and geographic region attributes of each call sign.
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.
- You must hold an unexpired amateur operator/primary station license grant of the proper operator class, as described below, to request a vanity call sign for your primary station.
- To request a vanity call sign for a club station, you must also hold an unexpired club station license grant listing you as the license trustee.
- Your name and mailing address as shown on your current license grant must be correct.
- If your license grant has expired you must first renew the license. After the renewal of your license is granted, you may file a vanity call sign request. You can change your name or address at the time of your vanity call sign request, by filing FCC Form 605.
- The call sign you are requesting may already be assigned. Refer to the Universal Licensing System License Search for verification.
- The license of the former holder now deceased must show a status of expired or cancelled in the licensee database. See Section 97.31(a). This is accomplished by submitting a request that includes a death certificate or obituary that shows the person named in the operator/primary station license grant has died. Such a request may be submitted as a pleading associated with the deceased licensee's license and sent to:
1270 Fairfield Road
Gettysburg, PA 17325-7245
In addition, the Commission may cancel a call sign if it becomes aware of the grantee's death through other means. No action will be taken during the last thirty days of the post-expiration grace period on a request to cancel a call sign due to the grantee's death.
The information for cancellation of a call sign must be submitted prior to filing the vanity application.
Special Event Call Sign
Call Sign Systems
When transmitting in conjunction with an event of special significance, an amateur station ("special event station") may transmit the identification announcement using a special event call sign in accord with the procedures detailed below. Substituting a special event call sign for its assigned call sign may help a special event station call attention "on-air" to its participation in the special event and to the unique opportunity for the amateur service community to exchange greetings with the station. Use of these provisions, however, must not detract from the station making the source of its transmissions known to those receiving them. The special event station must also transmit its assigned call sign at least once per hour during such operation.
A block of 750 call signs is available for use in the special event call sign system. The format of each call sign ("one-by-one") consists of a single letter prefix "K", "N" or "W", followed by a single digit numeral "0" through "9", followed by a single letter "A" through "W" or "Y" or "Z" ("X" is not available to amateur stations). The station license grantee must obtain coordination for the use of a special event call sign through one of the following special event call sign coordinators. These coordinators maintain and disseminate world-wide a common data base for the day-to-day usage of the one-by-one format call signs (for example "K1A"). Upon completing the coordination process, the special event station may substitute the one-by-one format call sign for its assigned call sign during the period of the special event. The following volunteer entities have been certified as special event call sign coordinators.
In addition to the special event call sign system, any amateur station, including a special event station, may include with its assigned call sign one or more indicators (example "W1AW/national convention"). Each indicator must be separated from the assigned call sign by a slant ("/") or any suitable word that denotes the slant mark ("portable," "stroke," etc.). If the indicator is self-assigned, it must be included before, after, or both before and after, the assigned call sign (example "KP2/W1AW/contest"). No self-assigned indicator may conflict with any other indicator specified by the FCC Rules (such as "AA", "AG", "AE" or "KT") or with any prefix assigned to another country (such as "DL", "F", "G" or "VE").
Questions concerning one-by-one call signs and the common data base should be directed to the special event call sign coordinators.