Section 2 - Licensing Conditions


Since radio waves travel a long way it is important that we operate under a set of rules and regulations. This prevents us from causing problems to other users of the radio spectrum including other amateurs. These rules consist of two main elements - the licensing conditions and the band plans. The licensing conditions are printed in the licence booklet available from Ofcom and can be downloaded from the ofcom website. It is vital that you read and understand the contents of the licence document since it form the statutory rules under which you must operate your radio equipment.

The band plan is an advisory "code-of-conduct". It is drawn up by each nation taking account of local needs but following international guidelines. It details which parts of the bands should be used for which types of activity. While the band plan is not legally enforceable, it is recommended that you follow it's guidance absolutely as most licenced radio amateurs do. It is laid out so that each different kind of activity has its own area of the band and the space that it needs to operate in.

As mentioned previously, radio waves can travel an extremely long distance, so it is important that the source of any transmission can be readily identified. For this reason every licenced radio amateur is allocated a callsign by their national government. This callsign follows an internationally agreed format. A station's callsign is unique and will usually only ever be issued to one person.

2.1 Types of Amateur Radio Licence

There are three types of amateur radio licence; Foundation, Intermediate and Full. The higher grades of licence allow the operator increased privileges like higher transmit power and access to a greater number of frequency bands. In addition Intermediate and Full licencees may build their own transmitters whereas those holding a Foundation licence may  use only commercially manufactured and approved transmitters or build one using a commercially made and approved kit..

Many other countries do not currently accept the UK Foundation licence .

Foundation Licencees may now operate through satellites or contact the International Space Station.

2.2 Format of Callsigns

Your callsign is shown on the licence document sent to you by Ofcom. Callsigns are normally only issued to one individual, so your callsign will not change when you renew your licence unless your licence class changes.

Foundation callsigns begin with "M3 or M6" followed by three letters, e.g. M3ABC. In areas of the UK except England a secondary "regional identifier" is added as given in the table below.


Isle of Man


Northern Ireland









A station in Scotland would therefore be MM3ABC. Note that this secondary identifier must be used whenever transmitting from Scotland even if the licencee lives in England. For example a Welsh amateur allocated the callsign MW3DUF travelling to Scotland would change his callsign to M3DUF when he crossed the English-Welsh border and change again to MM3DUF having crossed the English-Scottish border.

Intermediate licence callsigns begin 2E0 or 2E1 followed by three letters, e.g. 2E1ABC. In areas of the UK except England a secondary "regional identifier" as above is used in place of the "E" e.g. 2J1ABC would be an intermediate licencee operating from Jersey.

Full licencees have callsigns beginning M1 or M0 followed by three letters e.g. M0ABC. The secondary regional identifier is used in the same way as for the Foundation licence e.g. MM1ABC would be a full licencee operating from Scotland.

Historically amateur radio callsigns within the UK began with the letter "G", eg G4RXR, G6AQV. (note G3 is NOT a Foundation licencee, Foundation licence was not available  when G3 callsigns were issued). A few years ago all possible letter combinations in the "G" series were used up and so new licences began being issued in the "M" series.

You may also come across much older callsigns with only two letters (e.g. G2CY). There are also special callsigns issued to an individual or group, usually on a temporary basis, to commemorate a special event. These callsigns begin "GB" followed by a number and two or three letters e.g. GB0PC.


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