Call signs in the United Kingdom
Call signs are regulated internationally by the ITU as well as nationally in the UK by the Office of Communications (Ofcom). 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.
The Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB) is the United Kingdom's recognised national society for amateur radio operators. The society's patron is Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and it represents the interests of the UK's licensed radio amateurs.
Call sign blocks for telecommunication
|Call sign block||Principal use|
|VPA–VQZ||Oceanic islands, Antarctica|
|ZBA–ZJZ||Gibraltar, Middle East, south Atlantic|
While not directly related to call signs, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) further has divided all countries assigned amateur radio prefixes into three regions; Great Britain 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||G5NO||Newcastle upon Tyne|
|GBR||G2LO 1||Brookmans Park|
|GBR||G6KH||Kingston upon Hull|
|GBR||G6ST||Stoke on Trent|
Call sign assignments for amateur radio
Amateur radio or ham radio call signs are unique identifiers for the 75,000 licensed operators. Ofcom allots the individual call signs to the amateurs it licences. Call signs are the property of Ofcom even when assigned.
|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 letters||Full Licence|
|G2 + 3 letters||Full Licence|
|G3 + 2 letters||Full Licence|
|G3 + 3 letters||Full Licence|
|G4 + 2 letters||Full Licence|
|G4 + 3 letters||Full Licence|
|G5 + 2 letters||Full Licence|
|G6 + 2 letters||Full Licence|
|G6 + 3 letters||Full Licence|
|G7 + 3 letters||Full Licence|
|G8 + 2 letters||Full Licence|
|G8 + 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:
|Region||G-prefix||M-prefix||Intermediate lic.||G-club prefix||M-club prefix||Special event|
|Isle of Man||GD||MD||2D||GT||MT||GB|
Overseas call sign assignments
|VP2V||British Virgin Islands|
|VP5||Turks & Caicos|
|VR6||Pitcairn Island (prior to 1 May 1998)|
|VP6D||Ducie Island (Pitcairn group)|
|VP8/G||South Georgia Island|
|VP8/O||South Orkney Islands|
|VP8/SA||South Sandwich Island|
|VP8/SH||South Shetland Islands|
|VQ9||Chagos (Indian Ocean)|
|ZC4||UK Sovereign Base Areas on Cyprus|
|ZD9||Tristan Da Cunha|
Special event call signs
Ofcom reserves the right to issue temporary special event call signs to licensed amateurs holding a full licence.
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. 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.
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 the 19th and 21st of May 2018.
Holders of licences in countries signed up to CEPT TR 61-01 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 can operate for 3 months before needing a Great Britain call sign as issued by Ofcom.
- Hepburn, William. "Call signs". Dx Info Centre. Dx Info Centre. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
- "International Call Sign Series". ARRL.org. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
- "Callsign database by QRZ". QRZ.com. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
- Ofcom – Office of Communications
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 12 May 2013. Retrieved 6 January 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Radio Society of Great Britain
- International Telecommunication Union country call sign assignments Archived 6 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
- Number of UK licensed amateurs
- "Transfer of amateur radio call signs" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 July 2008. Retrieved 6 January 2016.
- "Amateur Terms" (PDF). OFCOM. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 March 2012. Retrieved 4 September 2010.
- "AC6V call sign information". Archived from the original on 27 June 2017. Retrieved 6 January 2016.
- "Applying for a Special Event Station". Archived from the original on 13 March 2013. Retrieved 6 January 2016.
- GB75RD at QRZ.COM
- IARU HF Championship Contest rules
- Recommendation T/R 61-01
- Recommendation T/R 61-02