Call signs in the United Kingdom

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Call signs in United Kingdom include a three letter country code, and a series of letters and numbers.[1][2][3]

Call signs are regulated internationally by the ITU as well as nationally in the UK by the Office of Communications (Ofcom).[4] It regulates amateur radio in the country as an independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries, with responsibilities across television, radio, telecommunications and wireless communications services. It assigns call signs, issues amateur radio licences, allots frequency spectrum, and monitors the radio waves. Ofcom is no longer responsible for setting and conducting amateur radio exams, which are now run by the Radio Society of Great Britain on their behalf.[5]

The Radio Society of Great Britain[6] (RSGB) is the United Kingdom's recognised national society for amateur radio operators. The society's former patron was Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and it represents the interests of the UK's licensed radio amateurs.

Call sign blocks for telecommunication[edit]

The International Telecommunication Union has assigned the United Kingdom the following call sign blocks for all radio communication, broadcasting or transmission:[7]

Call sign block Principal use
GAA–GZZ domestic
MAA–MZZ domestic
VPA–VQZ Oceanic islands, Antarctica
ZBA–ZJZ Gibraltar, Middle East, south Atlantic
2AA–2ZZ domestic

While not directly related to call signs, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) further has divided all countries assigned amateur radio prefixes into three regions; the United Kingdom is located in ITU Region 1.


These are callsigns of BBC Regional transmitters in the years prior to World War II.

Country prefix Call sign Location
GBR G5XX 2 Droitwich
GBR G5SC Westerglen
GBR G5NO Newcastle upon Tyne
GBR G2EH Edinburgh
GBR G5PY Plymouth
GBR G5SX Swansea
GBR G5GB Droitwich
GBR G2BD Redmoss
GBR G5NO Stagshaw
GBR G2BE Lisnagarvey
GBR G2LO 1 London
GBR G2LS Leeds
GBR G5PY Plymouth
GBR G5WA 3 Washford
GBR G2LO 1 Brookmans Park
GBR G6BM Clevedon
GBR G2ZY Moorside Edge
GBR G6FL Sheffield
GBR G6BM Bournemouth
GBR G2DE Dundee
GBR G5SC Glasgow
GBR G6KH Kingston upon Hull
GBR G6ST Stoke on Trent
GBR G5NG Nottingham
GBR G5IT Birmingham
GBR G6LV Liverpool

Call sign assignments for amateur radio[edit]

Amateur radio or ham radio call signs are unique identifiers for the 75,000 licensed operators.[8] Ofcom allots the individual call signs to the amateurs it licences. Call signs are the property of Ofcom even when assigned.[9]

Prefixes + letters in suffix Licence class
M3 + 3 Letters Foundation Licence
M6 + 3 Letters Foundation Licence
M7 + 3 Letters Foundation Licence
2E0 + 3 Letters Intermediate Licence
2E1 + 3 Letters Intermediate Licence
G1 + 3 letters Full Licence
G2 + 2 or 3 letters Full Licence
G3 + 2 or 3 letters Full Licence
G4 + 2 or 3 letters Full Licence
G5 + 2 letters Full Licence
G6 + 2 or 3 letters Full Licence
G7 + 3 letters Full Licence
G8 + 2 or 3 letters Full Licence
G0 + 3 letters Full Licence
M0 + 3 letters Full Licence
M1 + 3 letters Full Licence
M5 + 2 or 3 letters Full Licence
G + 1 number + 1 letter Contest callsign
M + 1 number + 1 letter Contest callsign

Callsigns in the G9 series are commercial licences, issued for experimental purposes and these may not be used on the amateur bands (except in the case of a contest callsign).

Regional two-letter prefixes are assigned according to the following table:[10]

Map showing regional indicators.
Region Regional
G-prefix M-prefix Intermediate Licence G-club prefix M-club prefix Special event
England —,
E, X
Guernsey U, P GU MU 2U GP MP GB
Isle of Man D, T GD MD 2D GT MT GB
Jersey J, H GJ MJ 2J GH MH GB
Northern Ireland I, N GI MI 2I GN MN GB
Scotland M, S GM MM 2M GS MS GB
Wales W, C GW MW 2W GC MC GB

Overseas call sign assignments[edit]

Prefix[11] DXCC Entity
VP2E Anguilla
VP2M Montserrat
VP2V British Virgin Islands
VP5 Turks & Caicos
VP6 Pitcairn Island
VR6 Pitcairn Island (prior to 1 May 1998)
VP6D Ducie Island (Pitcairn group)
VP8/F Falkland Islands
VP8/G South Georgia Island
VP8/O South Orkney Islands
VP8/SA South Sandwich Island
VP8/SH South Shetland Islands
VP8 Antarctica
VP9 Bermuda
VQ9 Chagos (Indian Ocean)
ZB, ZG Gibraltar
ZC4 UK Sovereign Base Areas on Cyprus
ZD7 St Helena
ZD8 Ascension Island
ZD9 Tristan Da Cunha
ZF Cayman Islands

Special event call signs[edit]

Ofcom reserves the right to issue temporary special event call signs to licensed amateurs holding a full licence.[12]

Special event call signs are issued with a 'GB' prefix, but others like GQ, GO, GR, MQ, GA, MO, and 2O have been issued in special cases. Ofcom also allows numerals in special event call sign suffixes. For instance GB75RD was a special event sign for the 75th anniversary of the Reading and District Amateur radio club.[13] More recently Ofcom have agreed to what was a very special arrangement for the use of the Special Event Station call sign Gx100RSGB during 2013 to mark the 100th anniversary of the RSGB (where "x" is replaced by the secondary location identifier, M, W, I, D, U, and J, etc. (but never with B) to form the typical 'GB' prefix for other special events.)

Exceptionally, call signs taking the form 'GB3xx' are usually allocated to repeaters whilst beacons usually take the 'GB3xxx' form.

The GR prefix has now been allocated, as of 2017, as a special event prefix alongside "GB", as the callsign GR2HQ has been in use under a Notice of Variation (NoV) since 2011. The prefix GR has now been allocated in the special event callsign range rather than an NoV. For reference, GR2HQ is the UK multiplier station in the Headquarters section (country-on-country national societies head-to-head section) of the annual IARU HF Championship Contest.[14]

To celebrate the wedding of HRH Prince Harry and Miss Meghan Markle, the RSGB agreed with Ofcom an NoV to authorise the temporary use of the Regional Secondary Locator 'R' after the United Kingdom call sign prefix. Successful applicants were able to use the modifier between 19–21 May 2018.

Reciprocal agreements[edit]

Holders of licences in countries signed up to CEPT TR 61-01[15] operate with their home call sign prefixed with an M/ plus the additional country identifier when necessary (e.g. MM, MI, MW etc.). Holders of licences in countries signed up to CEPT TR 61-02[16] can operate for 3 months before needing a Great Britain call sign as issued by Ofcom.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hepburn, William. "Call signs". Dx Info Centre. Dx Info Centre. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  2. ^ "International Call Sign Series". Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  3. ^ "Callsign database by QRZ". Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  4. ^ Ofcom – Office of Communications
  5. ^ "Ofcom Licensing services". Archived from the original on 12 May 2013. Retrieved 6 January 2016.
  6. ^ Radio Society of Great Britain
  7. ^ International Telecommunication Union country call sign assignments Archived 6 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Number of UK licensed amateurs
  9. ^ "Transfer of amateur radio call signs" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 July 2008. Retrieved 6 January 2016.
  10. ^ "Amateur Terms" (PDF). OFCOM. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 March 2012. Retrieved 4 September 2010.
  11. ^ "AC6V call sign information". Archived from the original on 27 June 2017. Retrieved 6 January 2016.
  12. ^ "Applying for a Special Event Station". Archived from the original on 13 March 2013. Retrieved 6 January 2016.
  13. ^ "GB75RD". QRZ.COM.
  14. ^ "IARU HF Championship Contest rules".
  15. ^ "Recommendation T/R 61-01" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 January 2016. Retrieved 6 January 2016.
  16. ^ "Recommendation T/R 61-02" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 January 2016. Retrieved 6 January 2016.

External links[edit]