Amateur radio call signs

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Amateur radio call signs are allocated to amateur radio operators around the world. The call signs are used to legally identify the station or operator, with some countries requiring the station call sign to always be used and others allowing the operator call sign instead.[1]

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) allocates call sign prefixes for radio and television stations of all types. Since 1927 these have been used to uniquely identify operators and locate amateur stations within a geographical region or country of the world. Call signs meant for amateur radio follow the ITU's Article 19, specifically 19.68 and 19.69.[2]

Prefixes are assigned internationally, and a separating numeral plus suffix are added by a national body to produce this unique identifier. These prefixes are agreed upon internationally, and are a form of country code. Each country must only assign call signs to its nationals or operators under its jurisdiction that begin with the characters allocated for use in that country or its territories.

In some countries, an operator may also select their own "vanity" call sign that conforms to local laws.[3] Some jurisdictions require a fee to obtain such a vanity call sign; in others, such as the UK, a fee is not required and the vanity call sign may be selected when the license is applied for. The FCC in the U.S. discontinued its fee for vanity call sign applications in September 2015.[4]

Formation of an amateur radio call sign[edit]

An amateur operator's call sign is composed of a prefix, a separating numeral and a suffix.

The prefix can be composed of letters or numbers, the separating numeral is one from 0 to 9, and a suffix is from one to four characters, usually letters.[5]

Examples of call signs and their constituent parts are as follows:

Call Sign Prefix (within ITU assigned range) Separating numeral Suffix format type
K4X K 4 X 1x1 call sign, usually time limited special event (USA)
B2AA B 2 AA 1x2 call sign (China)
N2ASD N 2 ASD 1x3 call sign (United States)
A22A A2 2 A 2x1 call sign (Botswana)
I20000X I 2 0000X 1x5 call sign, special event (Italy)
4X4AAA 4X 4 AAA 2x3 call sign (Israel)
3DA0RS 3DA 0 RS 3x2 call sign (Swaziland)

Call signs begin with a one- two- or three-character prefix chosen from a range assigned by the ITU to the amateur's country of operation or other internationally recognized jurisdiction. This is not necessarily always the amateur's country of citizenship. An individual operator is assigned a unique call sign beginning with this prefix and then completed with a separating numeral and suffix.[6]

Table of allocation of international call sign series
Call sign series Allocated to Notes
AAA-ALZ United States of America KB6CYD


AMA-AOZ Spain
APA-ASZ Pakistan (Islamic Republic of)
ATA-AWZ India (Republic of)
AXA-AXZ Australia
AYA-AZZ Argentine Republic
A2A-A2Z Botswana (Republic of)
A3A-A3Z Tonga (Kingdom of)
A4A-A4Z Oman (Sultanate of)
A5A-A5Z Bhutan (Kingdom of)
A6A-A6Z United Arab Emirates
A7A-A7Z Qatar (State of)
A8A-A8Z Liberia (Republic of)
A9A-A9Z Bahrain (Kingdom of)
BAA-BZZ China (People's Republic of)
CAA-CEZ Chile
CFA-CKZ Canada
CLA-CMZ Cuba
CNA-CNZ Morocco (Kingdom of)
COA-COZ Cuba
CPA-CPZ Bolivia (Republic of)
CQA-CUZ Portugal
CVA-CXZ Uruguay (Eastern Republic of)
CYA-CZZ Canada
C2A-C2Z Nauru (Republic of)
C3A-C3Z Andorra (Principality of)
C4A-C4Z Cyprus (Republic of)
C5A-C5Z Gambia (Republic of the)
C6A-C6Z Bahamas (Commonwealth of the)
C7A-C7Z World Meteorological Organization Series allocated to an international organization.
C8A-C9Z Mozambique (Republic of)
DAA-DRZ Germany (Federal Republic of)
DSA-DTZ Korea (Republic of)
DUA-DZZ Philippines (Republic of the)
D2A-D3Z Angola (Republic of)
D4A-D4Z Cape Verde (Republic of)
D5A-D5Z Liberia (Republic of)
D6A-D6Z Comoros (Union of)
D7A-D9Z Korea (Republic of)
EAA-EHZ Spain
EIA-EJZ Ireland
EKA-EKZ Armenia (Republic of)
ELA-ELZ Liberia (Republic of)
EMA-EOZ Ukraine
EPA-EQZ Iran (Islamic Republic of)
ERA-ERZ Moldova (Republic of)
ESA-ESZ Estonia (Republic of)
ETA-ETZ Ethiopia (Federal Democratic Republic of)
EUA-EWZ Belarus (Republic of)
EXA-EXZ Kyrgyz Republic
EYA-EYZ Tajikistan (Republic of)
EZA-EZZ Turkmenistan
E2A-E2Z Thailand
E3A-E3Z Eritrea
E4A-E4Z Palestinian Authority In response to Resolution 99 (Rev. Busan, 2014) of the Plenipotentiary Conference. (World Radiocommunication Conference 2015 (WRC-15), Geneva, Switzerland, 2–27 November 2015)
E5A-E5Z New Zealand - Cook Islands World Radiocommunication Conference 2007 (WRC-07), Geneva, Switzerland, 22 October-16 November 2007
E6A-E6Z New Zealand - Niue World Radiocommunication Conference 2015 (WRC-15), Geneva, Switzerland, 2–27 November 2015
E7A-E7Z Bosnia and Herzegovina World Radiocommunication Conference 2007 (WRC-07), Geneva, Switzerland, 22 October-16 November 2007
FAA-FZZ France
GAA-GZZ United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
HAA-HAZ Hungary (Republic of)
HBA-HBZ Switzerland (Confederation of)
HCA-HDZ Ecuador
HEA-HEZ Switzerland (Confederation of)
HFA-HFZ Poland(Republic of)
HGA-HGZ Hungary (Republic of)
HHA-HHZ Haiti (Republic of)
HIA-HIZ Dominican Republic
HJA-HKZ Colombia (Republic of)
HLA-HLZ Korea (Republic of)
HMA-HMZ Democratic People's Republic of Korea
HNA-HNZ Iraq (Republic of)
HOA-HPZ Panama (Republic of)
HQA-HRZ Honduras (Republic of)
HSA-HSZ Thailand
HTA-HTZ Nicaragua
HUA-HUZ El Salvador (Republic of)
HVA-HVZ Vatican City State
HWA-HYZ France
HZA-HZZ Saudi Arabia (Kingdom of)
H2A-H2Z Cyprus (Republic of)
H3A-H3Z Panama (Republic of)
H4A-H4Z Solomon Islands
H6A-H7Z Nicaragua
H8A-H9Z Panama (Republic of)
IAA-IZZ Italy
JAA-JSZ Japan
JTA-JVZ Mongolia
JWA-JXZ Norway
JYA-JYZ Jordan (Hashemite Kingdom of)
JZA-JZZ Indonesia (Republic of)
J2A-J2Z Djibouti (Republic of)
J3A-J3Z Grenada
J4A-J4Z Greece
J5A-J5Z Guinea-Bissau (Republic of)
J6A-J6Z Saint Lucia
J7A-J7Z Dominica (Commonwealth of)
J8A-J8Z Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
KAA-KZZ United States of America
LAA-LNZ Norway
LOA-LWZ Argentine Republic
LXA-LXZ Luxembourg
LYA-LYZ Lithuania (Republic of)
LZA-LZZ Bulgaria (Republic of)
L2A-L9Z Argentine Republic
MAA-MZZ United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
NAA-NZZ United States of America
OAA-OCZ Peru
ODA-ODZ Lebanon
OEA-OEZ Austria
OFA-OJZ Finland
OKA-OLZ Czech Republic
OMA-OMZ Slovak Republic
ONA-OTZ Belgium
OUA-OZZ Denmark
PAA-PIZ Netherlands (Kingdom of the)
PJA-PJZ Netherlands (Kingdom of the) - Netherlands Antilles
PKA-POZ Indonesia (Republic of)
PPA-PYZ Brazil (Federative Republic of)
PZA-PZZ Suriname (Republic of)
P2A-P2Z Papua New Guinea
P3A-P3Z Cyprus (Republic of)
P4A-P4Z Netherlands (Kingdom of the) - Aruba
P5A-P9Z Democratic People's Republic of Korea
RAA-RZZ Russian Federation
SAA-SMZ Sweden
SNA-SRZ Poland (Republic of)
SSA-SSM Egypt (Arab Republic of)
SSN-STZ Sudan (Republic of the)
SUA-SUZ Egypt (Arab Republic of)
SVA-SZZ Greece
S2A-S3Z Bangladesh (People's Republic of)
S5A-S5Z Slovenia (Republic of)
S6A-S6Z Singapore (Republic of)
S7A-S7Z Seychelles (Republic of)
S8A-S8Z South Africa (Republic of)
S9A-S9Z São Tomé and Príncipe (Democratic Republic of)
TAA-TCZ Turkey
TDA-TDZ Guatemala (Republic of)
TEA-TEZ Costa Rica
TFA-TFZ Iceland
TGA-TGZ Guatemala (Republic of)
THA-THZ France
TIA-TIZ Costa Rica
TJA-TJZ Cameroon (Republic of)
TKA-TKZ France
TLA-TLZ Central African Republic
TMA-TMZ France
TNA-TNZ Congo (Republic of the)
TOA-TQZ France
TRA-TRZ Gabonese Republic
TSA-TSZ Tunisia
TTA-TTZ Chad (Republic of)
TUA-TUZ Côte d'Ivoire (Republic of)
TVA-TXZ France
TYA-TYZ Benin (Republic of)
TZA-TZZ Mali (Republic of)
T2A-T2Z Tuvalu
T3A-T3Z Kiribati (Republic of)
T4A-T4Z Cuba
T5A-T5Z Somali Democratic Republic
T6A-T6Z Afghanistan
T7A-T7Z San Marino (Republic of)
T8A-T8Z Palau (Republic of)
UAA-UIZ Russian Federation
UJA-UMZ Uzbekistan (Republic of)
UNA-UQZ Kazakhstan (Republic of)
URA-UZZ Ukraine
VAA-VGZ Canada
VHA-VNZ Australia
VOA-VOZ Canada
VPA-VQZ United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
VRA-VRZ China (People's Republic of) - Hong Kong
VSA-VSZ United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
VTA-VWZ India (Republic of)
VXA-VYZ Canada
VZA-VZZ Australia
V2A-V2Z Antigua and Barbuda
V3A-V3Z Belize
V4A-V4Z Saint Kitts and Nevis (Federation of)
V5A-V5Z Namibia (Republic of)
V6A-V6Z Micronesia (Federated States of)
V7A-V7Z Marshall Islands (Republic of the)
V8A-V8Z Brunei Darussalam
WAA-WZZ United States of America
XAA-XIZ Mexico
XJA-XOZ Canada
XPA-XPZ Denmark
XQA-XRZ Chile
XSA-XSZ China (People's Republic of)
XTA-XTZ Burkina Faso
XUA-XUZ Cambodia (Kingdom of)
XVA-XVZ Viet Nam (Socialist Republic of)
XWA-XWZ Lao People's Democratic Republic
XXA-XXZ China (People's Republic of) World Radiocommunication Conference 2007 (WRC-07), Geneva, Switzerland, 22 October-16 November 2007
XYA-XZZ Myanmar (Union of)
YAA-YAZ Afghanistan
YBA-YHZ Indonesia (Republic of)
YIA-YIZ Iraq (Republic of)
YJA-YJZ Vanuatu (Republic of)
YKA-YKZ Syrian Arab Republic
YLA-YLZ Latvia (Republic of)
YMA-YMZ Turkey
YNA-YNZ Nicaragua
YOA-YRZ Romania
YSA-YSZ El Salvador (Republic of)
YTA-YUZ Serbia (Republic of) World Radiocommunication Conference 2007 (WRC-07), Geneva, Switzerland, 22 October-16 November 2007
YVA-YYZ Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)
Y2A-Y9Z Germany (Federal Republic of)
ZAA-ZAZ Albania (Republic of)
ZBA-ZJZ United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
ZKA-ZMZ New Zealand
ZNA-ZOZ United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
ZPA-ZPZ Paraguay (Republic of)
ZQA-ZQZ United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
ZRA-ZUZ South Africa (Republic of)
ZVA-ZZZ Brazil (Federative Republic of)
Z2A-Z2Z Zimbabwe (Republic of)
Z3A-Z3Z The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
Z8A-Z8Z South Sudan (Republic of) World Radiocommunication Conference 2015 (WRC-15), Geneva, Switzerland, 2–27 November 2015
2AA-2ZZ United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
3AA-3AZ Monaco (Principality of)
3BA-3BZ Mauritius (Republic of)
3CA-3CZ Equatorial Guinea (Republic of)
3DA-3DM Swaziland (Kingdom of)
3DN-3DZ Fiji (Republic of)
3EA-3FZ Panama (Republic of)
3GA-3GZ Chile
3HA-3UZ China (People's Republic of)
3VA-3VZ Tunisia
3WA-3WZ Viet Nam (Socialist Republic of)
3XA-3XZ Guinea (Republic of)
3YA-3YZ Norway
3ZA-3ZZ Poland (Republic of)
4AA-4CZ Mexico
4DA-4IZ Philippines (Republic of the)
4JA-4KZ Azerbaijani Republic
4LA-4LZ Georgia
4MA-4MZ Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)
4OA-4OZ Montenegro World Radiocommunication Conference 2007 (WRC-07), Geneva, Switzerland, 22 October-16 November 2007
4PA-4SZ Sri Lanka (Democratic Socialist Republic of)
4TA-4TZ Peru
4UA-4UZ United Nations Series allocated to an international organization.
4VA-4VZ Haiti (Republic of)
4WA-4WZ Timor-Leste (Democratic Republic of) World Radiocommunication Conference 2003 (WRC-03), Geneva, Switzerland, 9 June-4 July 2003
4XA-4XZ Israel (State of)
4YA-4YZ International Civil Aviation Organization Series allocated to an international organization.
4ZA-4ZZ Israel (State of)
5AA-5AZ Libya
5BA-5BZ Cyprus (Republic of)
5CA-5GZ Morocco (Kingdom of)
5HA-5IZ Tanzania (United Republic of)
5JA-5KZ Colombia (Republic of)
5LA-5MZ Liberia (Republic of)
5NA-5OZ Nigeria (Federal Republic of)
5PA-5QZ Denmark
5RA-5SZ Madagascar (Republic of)
5TA-5TZ Mauritania (Islamic Republic of)
5UA-5UZ Niger (Republic of the)
5VA-5VZ Togolese Republic
5WA-5WZ Samoa (Independent State of)
5XA-5XZ Uganda (Republic of)
5YA-5ZZ Kenya (Republic of)
6AA-6BZ Egypt (Arab Republic of)
6CA-6CZ Syrian Arab Republic
6DA-6JZ Mexico
6KA-6NZ Korea (Republic of)
6OA-6OZ Somali Democratic Republic
6PA-6SZ Pakistan (Islamic Republic of)
6TA-6UZ Sudan (Republic of the)
6VA-6WZ Senegal (Republic of)
6XA-6XZ Madagascar (Republic of)
6YA-6YZ Jamaica
6ZA-6ZZ Liberia (Republic of)
7AA-7IZ Indonesia (Republic of)
7JA-7NZ Japan
7OA-7OZ Yemen (Republic of)
7PA-7PZ Lesotho (Kingdom of)
7QA-7QZ Malawi
7RA-7RZ Algeria (People's Democratic Republic of)
7SA-7SZ Sweden
7TA-7YZ Algeria (People's Democratic Republic of)
7ZA-7ZZ Saudi Arabia (Kingdom of)
8AA-8IZ Indonesia (Republic of)
8JA-8NZ Japan
8OA-8OZ Botswana (Republic of)
8PA-8PZ Barbados
8QA-8QZ Maldives (Republic of)
8RA-8RZ Guyana
8SA-8SZ Sweden
8TA-8YZ India (Republic of)
8ZA-8ZZ Saudi Arabia (Kingdom of)
9AA-9AZ Croatia (Republic of)
9BA-9DZ Iran (Islamic Republic of)
9EA-9FZ Ethiopia (Federal Democratic Republic of)
9GA-9GZ Ghana
9HA-9HZ Malta
9IA-9JZ Zambia (Republic of)
9KA-9KZ Kuwait (State of)
9LA-9LZ Sierra Leone
9MA-9MZ Malaysia
9NA-9NZ Nepal (Federal Democratic Republic of)
9OA-9TZ Democratic Republic of the Congo
9UA-9UZ Burundi (Republic of)
9VA-9VZ Singapore (Republic of)
9WA-9WZ Malaysia
9XA-9XZ Rwanda (Republic of)
9YA-9ZZ Trinidad and Tobago

A unique international prefix[edit]

Beginning at the left of the call sign block, the country chooses one, two or three characters from within the range assigned by the ITU, enough to distinguish its call signs from other jurisdictions.

A "letter range" always first refers to the first letter of a block, meaning that in the letter range "AAA–ALZ", the "A" is the letter range-designator.

Factors for a country to consider when choosing within its assigned range:

  • When a 1-letter prefix is enough – This is possible only when the whole letter range is assigned to one jurisdiction. For example, KAA–KZZ is assigned to the United States. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) (the American national body) can assign a single letter ‘K’ prefix as the US is assigned the whole 'K' block. As numbers warrant the US can also assign prefixes 'KA', 'KB', 'KC' and so forth as needed. A single-letter prefix is also possible for block ranges beginning with B (China), F (France), G (United Kingdom), I (Italy), K (USA), M (UK), N (USA), R (Russia) or W (USA) as each are also assigned by the ITU to single jurisdictions
    • When assigning from the KAA–KZZ block, the FCC could assign three letter prefixes (e.g. KAA, KAB, KAC, etc.) but this produces cumbersome call signs, and one- and two-letter prefixes produce more than enough than needed as it is.
    • None of the B, F, G, I, K, M, N, R, and W ranges are issued with a numeral as a second character, so the first digit in a call in those ranges is always the separating numeral.
  • When 2-characters are needed – Two character prefixes are needed when the letter range is divided among two or more jurisdictions. For instance, AAA–ALZ is assigned to the USA; but Spain, Pakistan, India and Australia are assigned other portions of the 'A' block, so at least two characters from the left need to be assigned by each country to produce unique call signs. Letter-number prefixes 'A2' through 'A9' are also assigned to eight other jurisdictions, so a callsign prefix with a single 'A' does not uniquely distinguish any of them.
    • Korea has issued a special event callsign of D9K.[7] The 'D9' is the ITU prefix for South Korea, so they have issued a call with no separating numeral.
    • Bahamas issues call signs without a separating numeral. They are assigned the C6A–C6Z block, and the '6' is part of the 2-character prefix. Examples are as found on QRZ.COM (C6AFO, C6AGB, etc.).
    • Cyprus has issued H2T[8] as a special event call sign. Whereas Cyprus is assigned the H2A–H2Z block, there is then no numeral separator, just a one-letter suffix.
  • When a 3-character prefix is needed – This is an unusual situation and occurs with callsigs in the 3DA–3DZ block range. Fiji and Swaziland are assigned 3DN–3DZ and 3DA–3DM respectively, so they should choose also the third character from the left to produce unique call signs, but in practise do not.
    • Fiji has issued many call signs with a '3D' prefix and a '2' numeral separator. In theory this does not distinguish their call signs from Swaziland which is issued the 3DA–3DM block.
  • Jurisdictions frequently adopt one or only a few of the prefixes allowed to them within a block-range, reserving the others for other occasions. Canada has 24 possible, two-letter prefixes from its assigned ranges, but assigns only CY, VA, VE, VO, and VY for normal operation.

A unique internal numeral and suffix[edit]

The jurisdiction then assigns a single digit (a numeral to separate prefix from suffix) as well as a suffix of from 1 to four characters (the last being a letter) and appends them in that order to their assigned prefix(es). The resulting call sign must uniquely identify a ham radio operator within that jurisdiction.

Sometimes the prefix plus separating numeral is together referred to as the prefix.

This produces internationally recognized, unique call signs to identify licensed operators.

General formats[edit]

In general an amateur radio callsign is of one of these forms where:

  • P – prefix character (letter or numeral, subject to exclusions below). Prefixes can be formed using one-letter, two-letters, a digit and a letter, a letter and a digit, or in rare cases a digit and two letters. There is no ITU allocation of digit-only prefixes. Letter-digit-letter prefixes are possible but there are no known cases of them being issued by national bodies.
  • N – a single numeral which separates prefix from suffix (any digit from 0 to 9). Often a cross-hatched Ø is used for the numeral zero to distinguish it from the letter O.
  • S – suffix character (letter or numeral, last character must be a letter). Digits are in practise used sparingly in suffixes and almost always for special events. This avoids confusion with separating numerals and digits in prefixes in regularly issued call signs.

Call signs almost always have one of the following forms:

  • PNS, 1x1 call sign
    • usually for a special event, the prefix is always a single letter character, as is the suffix. Can only be assigned in the B, F, G, I, K, M, N, R or W prefix range. (See discussion on the D9K call sign issued by Korea above – 'when 2 characters are needed'.)
  • PPNS, 2x1 call sign
    • prefix can be letter-letter, letter-digit, or digit-letter. A call sign composed of a letter, two digits, and one-letter is always a 2x1 call sign, meaning it has a letter-digit prefix and a single-letter suffix.
    • for all letter-digit-digit-letter callsigns, if the first character is other than B, F, G, I, K, M, N, R or W then it is a 2x1 call sign
  • PNSS, 1x2 call sign
    • prefix always a letter, suffix almost always two letters to avoid confusion with 2x1 call signs.
    • As a precaution, the ITU has issued no prefixes in the B, F, G, I, K, M, N, R or W block ranges with letter-number possibilities, meaning that the first digit would have to be the separating numeral anyway.
    • for all letter-digit-digit-letter callsigns, if the first character is B, F, G, I, K, M, N, R or W then it is a 1x2 call sign
  • PNSSS, 1x3 call sign
    • these have the same precautions as 1x2 call signs to prevent confusion with 2x2 format
  • PPNSS, 2x2 call sign
    • these have the same precautions as 2x1 call signs to prevent confusion with 1x3 format
    • confusion might seem to arise with letter-digit-digit-digit-letter call signs, however in that case the second digit would be the numeral separator. (see 2x1 above)
  • PPNSSS, 2x3 call sign
    • by far the most common format
  • PPNSSSS, 2x4 call sign, or more
    • four-character suffix (or more) assigned by some countries (e.g. Australia to designate operator class), or 5 or more characters for special events. In New Zealand the first character of the SSSS suffix is sometimes a digit for special events
  • PPPNSS or PPPNSSS, 3x2, 3x3 or more
    • assigned when two characters of the prefix are not enough to distinguish jurisdiction (eq. Fiji 3DN–3DZ and Swaziland 3DA–3DM)

Suffix assignment[edit]

Since suffixes can also contain digits, some countries issue suffixes (usually temporarily) beginning with enough digits to produce a number, usually associated with the special event (for example the number of years, see New Zealand below).

In normal call sign assignment, if a call sign has two digits (e.g. S59DSC or 2S4LGR – PPNSSS), the first digit is almost always a prefix character (e.g. S5 indicating Slovenia, or 2S indicating Scotland).

Call signs with more than one digit[edit]

Call signs with two (or more) digits in them can arise a number of ways. When the digits abut one another, it is important to distinguish which digit belongs to the prefix, which is the separating numeral, and which may belong to the suffix.

In every case (Bahamas being an exception), a jurisdiction assigned a letter-digit prefix by the ITU will have a second digit as their internally assigned prefix/suffix separator. An example is A33A, a Tongan call sign; the first '3' is the second character of the prefix and the second '3' is the numeral separating 'A3' from the single-letter suffix 'A'. There are no single letter prefixes allocated by the ITU with an 'A', so the first 3 must be part of the prefix.

Neither New Zealand's nor the Republic of Ireland's prefixes have numerals as prefix-characters. However, both allow a second numeral as the leading character of the suffix and is not to be confused with the sign's separating numeral. As the first character of the suffix, the two digits can be taken together; for instance, to represent a two-digit number of significance to the operator.

A New Zealand amateur who has been active for 30 years and currently is assigned call sign ZL1xxx can operate as ZL30xxx for up to three months.[9] Technically, the '3' is the separating numeral and the '0' is the first character of the suffix.

Similarly a club with call ZL4xxx which has been established for 23 years can operate as ZL23xxx for up to three months.

The New Zealand operator substitutes their identifying separating numeral with another, so long as a second digit is added to the beginning of their normal suffix. This may result in call sign confusion in the rare case of two amateurs in differing numeral-areas also both having the same number of years of operation and suffix.

Ireland also takes advantage of the ITU standard to allow digits as suffix-characters. The Irish Radio Transmitters Society operates as EI75IRTS celebrating 75 Years of incorporation – 1932–2007.[10]

Ofcom in Great Britain also allows numerals in special event call signs. For instance GB75RD was a special event sign for the 75th anniversary of the Reading and District Amateur radio club.[11]

Numerous other cases of multiple numeral prefixes exist. An example occurred in 1987 when the "200" was used in place of district numbers for the many stations that celebrated the bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution.

Exclusions[edit]

The 26 letters of the English alphabet and ten digits may be used to form call signs, accented letters excluded.

Letter combinations which can be confused with distress calls or which are reserved as abbreviations for radiocommunications services are excluded (e.g. Q codes).[12] The ITU Article 19 exclusions are those found in ITU-R M.1172.[13] In practise, no prefix begins with the letter 'Q', but 'Q' can be the second letter (eq. Malawi assigned the 7QA–7QZ block).

Double- or single-digit prefixes are excluded. A callsign with a leading digit in the prefix always has a second character which is a letter and in rare cases a third character which is also a letter.

Currently, no allocated prefix has 0 (zero) or 1 (one) as one of its characters as they can be confused with the letters O (Oscar) and I (India).

All ten digits from 0 to 9 are allowed to be used as a separating numeral at the discretion of national allocating bodies.

Secondary prefix or suffix types[edit]

Ancillary prefixes or suffixes further identify the location and/or operating condition of an amateur operator.

According to the Canada/United States Operating Agreement treaty[14] amateurs from one country operating in the other sign with their home call sign, but attach the call area prefix where they are operating to their call. For instance, an amateur from British Columbia (VE7 in Canada) operating in Washington State (K7 in the USA) would amend their home-call with a trailing /K7 (e.g. VE7xxx becomes VE7xxx/K7).

Radio amateurs from countries that apply the CEPT recommendation T/R 61-01[15] operating as a visitor in countries that apply the same recommendation are required to use the appropriate host country's prefix before their home call sign[16] (in the case of Peru, after the home call sign) and may use the appropriate operating suffix (see below). For instance a British (English) amateur holding a call of G3xxx operating in France would sign as F/G3xxx, a Swiss amateur operating from a car in Germany as DL/HB9xxx/m. Similar rules apply in cases when bilateral agreements on visitors licenses exist, or a visitor is permitted to operate without being assigned a local call sign.

When a country's separating numeral denotes a geographic area within, an operator from one region operating in another region can affix a secondary suffix indicating so. For instance an amateur from Queensland, Australia, operating in Tasmania can sign as VK4xxx/7 or VK4xxx/VK7.

Other secondary operating suffixes can be attached such as /P (for portable operation), /M (for mobile operation), /AM (aeronautical mobile), /MM (maritime mobile), or /A (for operation from an alternative location that is registered with the licensing authorities). Depending on the jurisdiction, the use of these five suffixes may be required for these types of operation. Occasionally self-assigned operating suffixes such as /QRP for operation at low power are heard.

Some repeaters have automatic call sign transmission at regular intervals and use the secondary suffix /R at the call sign's end. Some jurisdictions discourage this practice on the grounds that it could be confused with an amateur from the repeater's location working portable in Russia. Similarly, some beacon stations use the self-assigned secondary suffix /B.

Ancillary Prefix Usage notes:
/<digit> VE7xxx/7 denotes operator in his/her own call area operating away from primary location
/P VE7xxx/P denotes operator in his/her own call area or country operating away from primary location
/<call area> VE7xxx/6, VE7xxx/VE6 operator in another call area operating away from primary location, but within national boundary
/<call area> VE7xxx/W7 operator in another call area operating away from primary location, but outside of national boundary
<call area>/ F/G3xxx operator in another country than that of the primary location
/M VE7xxx/M operator in a mobile setting (e.g. moving, or aboard a land vehicle)
/MM VE7xxx/MM operator in marine mobile setting
/AM VE7xxx/AM operator in aeronautical mobile setting
/A UR1xxx/A operator at a secondary location registered with the licensing authorities

Callsigns within a country[edit]

General issuing practices[edit]

Each national authority has some options in relation to the form of the prefix, as long as enough characters are selected starting from the left of their assigned block to produce a prefix unique to its jurisdiction.

Each country has authority over which numeral separates the prefix and suffix. The prohibition of the use of the digits 0 and 1 in land mobile stations does not apply to amateur stations. The ITU however does not issue prefixes with either a 0 or 1 as one of the characters.

Bahamas issues call signs without a separating numeral. They are assigned the C6A–C6Z block, and the '6' is part of the prefix. Examples are as found on QRZ.COM (C6AFO, C6AGB, etc.)

The suffix can be from one to four characters subject to ITU exclusions (above).[12] On special occasions, for temporary use, administrations may authorize use of call signs with more than four suffix-characters.

Allocation options within a country[edit]

Whereas for ITU purposes the prefix does not include the separating numeral, for country purposes often the separating numeral is included when the prefix is referred to. Thus for Canada VE6 or VA6 are the prefixes for Alberta, while VE2 or VA2 are the prefixes denoting Quebec.

  • The most common suffix has three characters. The ITU requires only that the last suffix-character be a letter, although with XE21 Mexico broke this rule in 1995, as did Spain in 2014 when it issued EF6 to commemorate the ascension to the throne of King Felipe VI, and Canada in 2017 with VX7150 to commemorate its 150th anniversary (the "7" indicated the operator was in British Columbia). In practice except for the U.S. suffixes are frequently composed of two or three letters. Australia requires its Foundation Class of operators to have a four-letter suffix. Portugal uses four-character suffixes for repeater stations. Long ones have also been used for commemorative events, such as Canada's VE9COAL.
  • Most countries select permanent or renewable calls from a narrow, specific range of possible assigned prefix alternatives. For instance The Philippines is allocated the DUZ–DZZ and 4DA–4IZ blocks – 12 possible two-character prefixes in all – but almost all Philippine amateur callsigns are issued with the DU prefix.
  • Some countries add or reserve an allowable second-character letter to the prefix to indicate the internal region of the operator – (e.g. G3xxx in England becomes GD3xx for the Isle of Man; or for KL6xxx, the L indicates Alaska).
  • Some countries reserve their separating numeral to indicate the internal region in which the individual operator resides (e.g. The United States: 6 – California, 4 – The Southeast, 3 – Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware, etc. although in the U.S. licensees can change districts and retain their original calls). Callsigns may also indicate where within a country a person is operating; thus a VE3 (Ontario) operator would add "/VE4" to the callsign when transmitting from Manitoba.
  • Some countries reserve the first letter of the suffix to indicate the internal region in which the individual operator resides (e.g. Argentina assigns LU#N to Santiago del Estero where # is any numeral, or Russia where the separating numeral plus the first letter of the suffix denotes the Oblast of the call sign).
  • Some countries issue call signs meant for use in Antarctica (e.g. South Korea assigns HL8 to stations at its Antarctic base).
  • Canada is the only jurisdiction which issues a call sign prefix for use in International Waters – VE0, although Panama has allowed "HP/" without a district number to be temporarily used by persons on cruise ships registered in that country.
  • Some countries reserve allowable prefixes to indicate the operating class of the amateur (e.g. China issues the BA prefix to 1st class operators).
  • Some countries limit 2- or 1-letter suffixes to operators with advanced privileges (e.g. The Republic of Georgia limits one-letter suffixes to “extra” class licenses). As noted above, beginning in 1977 this was generally the practice in the United States, and many operators holding the highest class license took 2x1 or 1x2 calls.
  • Some countries reserve allowable prefixes for foreigners licensed in their jurisdiction (e.g. Japan reserves the 7J prefix for foreigners).
  • Malta reserves the 9H5 prefix for VHF-use and up.
  • Some countries reserve amateur radio prefixes for shortwave listeners (e.g. Germany reserves the DE prefix for SWLers. 'DE' is also a Morse code abbreviation amateurs use meaning "from" when one station contacts another – e.g. VE7xxx de WB4xxx means, "calling station VE7xxx from my station of WB4xxx". Thus Germany has eliminated any potential confusion in the use of DE as a prefix as opposed to it as an abbreviation).
  • Belarus reserves some of its prefixes for WWII veterans.
  • Belarus reserves suffixes YAA–YZZ for female operators.

Rare ITU prefixes/DXCC Entities[edit]

A country can consist of many DXCC entities depending on its geographical make-up. Some islands which are separate DXCC entities are uninhabited and can only be worked when a DXpedition travels there. The following are countries and/or entities which appear perennially on various listings of rare countries:[17]

Countries which are rarely heard, roughly in this order:

  • North Korea – The ITU-issued P5 prefix is rare, as North Korea does not issue amateur call signs to its citizens, and very rarely to foreign nationals.
  • Yemen – The ITU-issued 7O (note: letter O) prefix is rare as Yemen does not issue amateur call signs to its citizens, and rarely to foreign nationals.
  • Eritrea – E3 prefix.
  • Myanmar – XZ prefix.
  • Bangladesh – S2 prefix.
  • Iran – EP prefix.
  • Nauru – C2 prefix, an island nation in Micronesia in the South Pacific.
  • Equatorial Guinea – 3C prefix.
  • Somalia – T5 prefix.
  • Nepal – 9N prefix.
  • Bhutan – A5 prefix.

Islands which are rarely heard DXCC entities:

  • Bouvet Island – 3Y/B, uninhabited Antarctic volcanic island in the South Atlantic Ocean, Norwegian dependency.
  • Navassa Island – KP1, uninhabited island in the Caribbean Sea, claimed as an unorganized unincorporated territory of the United States, Haiti also claims the island
  • Prince Edward Islands – ZS8, Antarctic islands of South Africa. The only human inhabitants of the islands are the staff of a meteorological and biological research station run by the South African National Antarctic Programme on Marion Island.
  • Heard Island or Macquarie Island – VK0, Australian possession, among the most remote places on Earth between Australia and South Africa, but closer to Antarctica.
  • Île Saint-Paul – FT5Z, part of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands in the Indian Ocean.
  • Timor – 4W prefix, belonging to the state of East Timor.

Prefix reassignment[edit]

As political boundaries change through treaty or warfare, sometimes call sign prefixes are reassigned by the ITU to the new controlling government, or are reassigned by national governments for other reasons.[18]

  • the block range VRA–VRZ (Hong Kong) was reassigned to China from Britain in 1999 following the end of the UK's lease over the territory.
  • VTA–VZZ once was a range meant for use in the British Empire – now VTA–VWZ is assigned to India, VXA–VYZ to Canada, and VZA–VZZ to Australia. Because of the influence of Great Britain throughout the Mediterranean, Middle East and Pacific regions, there have been many call sign adjustments since WWII.
  • In 1947 the Soviet Union was assigned the whole U-block (UAA–UZZ). Upon the USSR's break-up in 1991 the block was reassigned – UAA–UIZ (Russian Federation), UJA–UMZ (Uzbekistan), UNA–UQZ (Kazakhstan), and URA–UZZ (Ukraine).
  • prefix 8Z used to be used for the Iraq/Saudi Neutral Zone (8Z4) and the Kuwait/Saudi Neutral Zone (8Z5), both of which no longer exist so the prefixes were withdrawn.
  • San Marino dropped prefix 9A and M1 and was assigned T7.
  • Sikkim used to use AC3 (an American prefix) but when the country became a state of India in 1975 it adopted VU.
  • East Timor under Portugal used CR8 or CR10; when part of Indonesia had the prefix YB9; and, as noted above, as the independent state of Timor-Leste has the prefix 4W. 4W (or 4W1) was formerly allocated to the Yemen Arab Republic before its 1990 merger with the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen to form the Republic of Yemen.
  • The Canal Zone in Panama used NY1, NY2, K4 or KZ5 when it was a territory of the United States, but now uses a Panama prefix based on HO or HP.
  • US Military personnel in Greenland used to use prefix KG1 and XP1, but now use OX.
  • Americans at Guantánamo Bay Naval Base used to use prefix NY4, now use KG4, followed by a two letter suffix (one or three letters indicate regular US callsign allocations)
  • For various nations the Amateur radio call signs of Antarctica are frequently differentiated from those used in their parent countries. For example, American stations in Antarctica are assigned the prefix KC4, and suffix blocks of three letters beginning with "A" or "U".
  • The Territory of New Guinea used to use VK9 and now uses P2.
  • British Honduras used to use VP1 and now uses V3 as Belize.
  • VX9 used to designate both Sable Island (now CY0) and St. Paul Island (now CY9) in Canada.
  • YZA–YZZ and 4N–4O used to belong to Yugoslavia before its break-up in 1992, Serbia is now YT–YU and other successor countries have their own prefixes.
  • Canada inherited the Dominion of Newfoundland VO prefix on April 1, 1949 when Newfoundland and Labrador joined Canada. The Canadian government continues to assign VO1 and VO2 to Newfoundland and Labrador.
  • After their annexation in 1940 the Soviet Union inherited the respective prefixes of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, LY, YL, and ES. Following their independence fifty years later these countries resumed these calls.

Call signs used in unassigned ITU block ranges[edit]

QSL card from a station in Chechnya using unofficial prefix "1X".

Some call sign block ranges are unassigned by the ITU, e.g. the 1AA–1ZZ block. Any call sign used by an amateur in these unassigned block ranges usually had it assigned to them by a group with an unrecognized national claim. Unless otherwise noted, they have no value for DXCC awards.

  • 1A is used by the Sovereign Military Order of Malta a Roman Catholic order based in Rome, Italy.[19] This entity is recognized by ARRL for the DXCC program.
  • 1B is used by the pseudo-state -Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, a de facto country recognized internationally only by Turkey. The ITU has not authorised any 1x and Qx series callsigns. Therefore entities such as 1B (North Cyprus), 1S (Spratly Archipelago) etc, which may be heard, may not be recognised for DXCC purposes, nor valid under UK license conditions. [20]. Anyone who makes contact with a "1B" callsign on the air is in violation of PARTS 97 of the FCC rules [97.111] (for those USA Hams).
  • 1C and 1X are occasionally used by separatists in the Chechnya, a federal subject of Russia.[21]
  • 1L is being issued by Liberland Amateur Radio Association and is referred to as temporary prefix of Liberland.[22]
  • 1S is sometimes used on the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, as the islands are the subject of international dispute over ownership. Without taking a position on the claims involved, this entity is recognized by ARRL for the DXCC program, although prefixes from claimant nations are often used instead.[23]
  • 1Z has been used in Kawthoolei, an unrecognized breakaway region of Myanmar.
  • D0 and 1C were used in 2014, allegedly from the unrecognized Donetsk People's Republic.[24] D1 has also been used on occasion.[25]
  • O19 was used in 2015 by an operator (Khussar Iryston) showing a license from unrecognized South Ossetia.[26]
  • S0 is a prefix used in the Western Sahara – note that the unofficial issuer has used 0 as a prefix-character contrary to ITU practice.[27] Without taking a position on the claims involved, this entity is recognized by ARRL for the DXCC program.
  • S1A is used by the Principality of Sealand six miles off the eastern shores of Britain.[28]
  • T1 has appeared as a callsign from Transnistria, a breakaway region of Moldova.[29]
  • T0, as well as 0S, 1P, and T89, have occasionally been used by operators in the Principality of Seborga, an unrecognized micronation.
  • Z6 was chosen by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of the Republic of Kosovo as an international prefix in September 2012. The assignment is not currently approved by the ITU.[30]

In addition, during their period of independence from the Republic of South Africa, which lasted in some cases from 1976–1994, the Bantustans had prefixes not recognized by the international community. These were:

DXCC entities and IOTA[edit]

Amateur radio call sign prefixes almost always locate an operator within one of the 300+ DXCC entities in the world.

Any country or ITU prefix assignment can have many entities within it. For example, in the United States Hawaii (with 'H' as the second character of the prefix and '6' as the separating numeral) and Alaska (with 'L' as the second letter of the prefix) are considered different DXCC entities, as are Sable Island and St. Paul Island in Canada.

The DX Century Club (DXCC) is an amateur radio operating award given by the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) to operators making contact with 100 or more geographic entities around the world. As such, the ARRL keeps a list of DXCC entities (not necessarily a country) for this purpose.[32] This list includes deleted entries and prefixes and the dates in which contacts with them will be counted towards the award.

The DXCC List is based upon Clinton B. DeSoto's landmark 1935 QST article defining a "country" as a discrete geographical entity.[33] A geographical portion of one country can be a separate DXCC entity if it is non-contiguous with or significantly distant from the main part of the national entity.

IOTA is a radio amateur abbreviation for "Islands on the Air". It refers to a list of saltwater islands worldwide maintained by the Radio Society of Great Britain, which assigns a unique code to an island or group of islands, like EU-005 for Great Britain, OC-001 for Australia etc.[34][35] IOTA codes are not part of the callsign, although some callsign blocks correspond uniquely to an IOTA code, like EA6: EU-004 – Balearic Islands, SV5: EU-001 – Dodecanese Islands, etc. In many other cases there is no direct relation between the callsign and the IOTA code.

Vanity call signs[edit]

Ham radio operators in the United States may apply for a specific callsign, including calls from other zones, so long as they have the appropriate license class for the desired callsign format.[36] The callsign must conform to the prefix standard assigned to that area. In Canada, a "2 x 3" call (a format with two letters, a number, three letters, like VE1ZZZ) may be freely requested from a list of available calls; the shorter "2 x 2" call has a waiting period in many provinces.

The U.S. (unlike most other jurisdictions) also ties callsigns to license class. An Amateur Extra might have W0OL (which is a "1 x 2" call), but a General-class licensee could not, because 1 x 2 calls are reserved for the Amateur Extra class. Likewise, a ham on the mainland could not get a callsign beginning with the KH6 prefix, which is assigned to Hawaii, although a radio amateur who moves to a different call sign district within the same country is able to keep his or her original callsign.

Individual amateurs may want a callsign with their name or initials embedded, callsigns that had been held by family members or friends, or callsigns that they themselves formerly held (and gave up for whatever reason). Some people want a callsign that is shorter, or easier to pronounce, or just "fits their personality" better. CW (Morse code) operators might want a callsign that "sounds good" or is short when sent in Morse. (This is referred to as "CW weight".)

Radio amateur clubs will sometimes request specific callsigns in memoriam of deceased members (silent keys); G5RV is held by a British club in memory of the inventor of the G5RV antenna. Some request callsigns which reflect specific interests or modes of operation (such as VE3QRP for a low-power radio club in Ontario). The USS Batfish, a museum ship in Muskogee, Oklahoma, has callsign WW2SUB; the USS Oklahoma is commemorated as WW2OK.;[37] The Battleship USS Missouri has the call sign KH6BB; VO1MCE the callsign of the Irish Loop Amateur Radio Club at the Myrick Wireless Interpretation Centre in Newfoundland, commemorates Cape Race Marconi station MCE as the first point of radio contact in the New World for Titanic. The National World War I Museum and Memorial , at the Liberty Memorial, in Kansas City, Missouri, has the call sign WW1USA.

Various "special event" callsigns are issued for periods ranging from a day to a month, either for individual radio contest days or commemoration of specific current or historic events. GB100MGY commemorated the 100th anniversary of the sinking of Titanic (Marconi station MGY);[38] 2O12 and 2O12L commemorated the 2012 Olympic Games in the United Kingdom.

Occasionally, a radio club will obtain a shorter callsign for a day; the U.S. FCC issues calls as short as 1 x 1 (with "K1D" being a popular choice) for individual events. These callsigns are not permanent and are quickly reassigned to other stations for subsequent events.[39]

A well-known short callsign is JY1, which belonged to Hussein of Jordan, who served as that nation's king.

Callbooks[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Amateur Radio (Intermediate) License (A) or (B) Terms, Provisions and Limitations Booklet BR68/I". Ofcom.org.uk. Retrieved 2007-06-02.
  2. ^ "ARTICLE 19 Identification of stations, Section III – Formation of call signs" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-06-21.
  3. ^ "Common Filing Task: Obtaining Vanity Call Sign". FCC.gov. Retrieved 2007-06-02.
  4. ^ "Vanity Call Sign Fees". ARRL. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
  5. ^ Rarely, amateur call signs end in digits. For example, the call sign 9XB954 was issued in Rwanda in 2016. See http://www.m0oxo.com/. Chile has also issued similar call signs, for example CD5846. See http://gel.federachi.cl/index.php?uid=&modulo=busqueda/bus_indicativo/.
  6. ^ International Telecommunication Union country call sign assignments
  7. ^ Korea Contest Club, world's longest seawall
  8. ^ H2T at QRZ.COM
  9. ^ "PIB46" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-23. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
  10. ^ Irish call book
  11. ^ GB75RD at QRZ.COM
  12. ^ a b "ITU-R M.1172". Life.itu.ch. Archived from the original on 2011-07-06. Retrieved 2010-06-21.
  13. ^ "Miscellaneous abbreviations and signals to be used in radiotelegraphy communications in the maritime mobile service". Life.itu.ch. Archived from the original on 2011-07-06. Retrieved 2010-06-21.
  14. ^ "Canada/United States Operating Agreement". Rac.ca. Archived from the original on 2010-10-05. Retrieved 2010-06-21.
  15. ^ "Recommendation T/R 61-01" (PDF). CEPT ECC. 1985–2003. Retrieved 2014-07-10.
  16. ^ "Lifetime Sample Amateur Radio Licence (including Terms and Conditions) - reduced file size for quicker printing" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-06-21.
  17. ^ The 100 most wanted DXCC entities archive
  18. ^ "Amateur radio prefixes". Homepages.tesco.net. Retrieved 2010-06-21.
  19. ^ "Sovereign Military Order Of Malta - 1A4A". Hamgallery.com. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
  20. ^ [http://rsgb.org/main/operating/licensing-novs-visitors/international-prefixes/ | title=International Prefixes}
  21. ^ QSL card from Chechnya using unofficial callsign 1X5AA
  22. ^ Liberland radio prefix – 1L
  23. ^ "Spratly Islands - 1S1RR". Hamgallery.com. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
  24. ^ New pirate stations in Ukraine conflict
  25. ^ D0, D1 - Donetsk People's Republic
  26. ^ O19VB
  27. ^ "Western Sahara - S07U". Hamgallery.com. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
  28. ^ "Unverified Operation - Principality of Sealand - S1AD". Hamgallery.com. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
  29. ^ QSL n'ayant jamais été créditées au DXCC
  30. ^ Recommencement of Amateur Radio Services in Republic of Kosovo and the assignment of country call sign – Z6
  31. ^ S8 Transkei (Entité DXCC ayant changé de préfixe)
  32. ^ "www.arrl.org/country-lists-prefixes DXCC Country list". Arrl.org. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
  33. ^ "DXCC rules". Arrl.org. Archived from the original on 2010-05-11. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
  34. ^ Balsiter R. and Telenius-Lowe S., ed. (2011). IOTA directory. Bedford, UK: Radio Society of Great Britain. ISBN 9781905-086696.
  35. ^ "RSGB Islands on the Air". Rsgbiota.org. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
  36. ^ "Rules and Availability". U.S. Federal Communications Commission.
  37. ^ http://ww2sub.org/
  38. ^ "{title}". Archived from the original on 2015-02-23. Retrieved 2015-02-23.
  39. ^ List of N1R special event stations, various.

External links[edit]