Vanity Call Signs and How to Get One


 

Quick Facts:

 

1.  You have to pay a fee for a Vanity call sign. 

 

2.  Vanity call signs are restricted according to your license class.  If you have a Technician license you may not apply for a call sign that is formatted for Advanced class or Amateur Extra class licenses.

 

3.  Vanity call signs are also restricted according to your mailing address.  If your mailing address is not in Alaska, the Caribbean or the Pacific areas, then you will not be granted a call sign with "L". "H" or "P" as the second letter in the call sign prefix (e.g. KL7IYI, NH6AC, WP4WD, etc).

 

4.  It will take 18-22 days (or longer) for your vanity call sign application to be processed and the FCC data base to be updated.  Be patient.

 

What is a Vanity Call Sign?

 

A vanity call sign is very similar to vanity license plates on the family car.  Vanity plates are very popular so you've probably seen lots of cars with them.  They can indicate membership in various organizations (fraternities, veterans groups, etc) or be abbreviated phrases, initials, or names (e.g., "RLR", "BRENDAS", "2COOL4U", "BOBS GTO", etc).  

 

A vanity call sign is a call sign that the radio amateur or club wants assigned to them by the FCC in place of their existing call sign.  The typical vanity call sign has some personal significance to the applicant (e.g., the applicant's initials, the former call of a deceased family member or club member, part of a name, etc). 

 

Sometimes we choose a vanity call because the combination of letters and numbers is shorter or because the new call will have a better sound on phone or CW.   Amateur Radio clubs can also get a vanity call to replace their FCC-assigned club license call sign.  For example, the Anne Arundel Radio Club call sign (W3VPR) could be changed to AA3RC if that call sign is available. 

 

A newly licensed radio amateur or a amateur radio club cannot get a vanity call sign as their first call sign.  However, once they have a call sign, the FCC allows amateurs and clubs to select specific call signs in place of their current call sign.  And just like vanity license plates, the FCC charges a fee for obtaining a vanity call sign.  The vanity call sign fee is payable up front and the new license is good for 10 years. 

 

On average, it takes the FCC about 18-22 days to process a vanity call sign application but it could take a couple days longer if there is a holiday weekend involved.

 

Vanity Call Sign Fees.

 

The FCC charges a fee for vanity call signs.  The current fee (as of September 2004) for vanity call signs is $20.80 which you must pay at the same time you apply for your vanity call sign.  You may pay you application fee by personal check, money order, bank draft/check, or by credit card.  For money orders, checks and bank drafts, the fee is made payable to "FCC".  No matter which method of payment you choose, you must complete Form 159.

Hams with vanity call signs must expect to pay the current fee (it can change annually) when they renew their vanity call sign.  

 

What Vanity Call Sign Choices are Available?

 

Pay attention to this section because a lot of people get confused in this area.

 

1.  It doesn't matter whether you are an individual or a club trustee, the vanity call signs that are available to you are restricted by your current license class and your mailing address. 

 

2.  Your call vanity sign choice may contain a number (0-9) that is different than the number assigned to the call area associated with your current call sign.  For example, you might live in Vermont (Vermont is in the first call area) but want a call sign from the sixth call area (California). 

 

3.  The call sign you want must have been canceled for at least two years and one day.  The original holder of tha call sign has first right of recall up to two years after cancellation of the call.  Adding a day is prudent.  The best place to look for call signs is the FCC web site where you can see if a call sign has been canceled and the date of cancellation.: www.fcc.gov/wtb/uls.

License class.

 

Your choice of a vanity call sign is limited to the format of your current license class or the license class below yours and within the limits of your mailing address (See the explanation below). 

 

Extra class hams can request any vacant (not assigned) call sign in any format within the limits of their mailing address.  Extra class call signs are formatted as 1x2 (N3MB), 2x1 (NV3G) or 2x2 beginning with the letter "A" (AA3RR). 

 

Advanced class hams can request any vacant (not assigned) call sign in any format except Amateur Extra, within the limits of their mailing address.  Advanced class call signs are formatted as 2x2 beginning with the letters "K" (KF9EB), "N" (NA1DX), or "W" (WW3ZZ).

 

General and Technician and Technician Plus class hams can request any vacant (not assigned) call sign that is formatted as a 1x3 call sign beginning with the letters "N" (N4GUN), "K" (K3RLR) or "W" (W1ING") or 2x3 call sign beginning with prefix letters "K" (KE3RLR) or "W" (WB2AMC) within the limits of their mailing address.

Novice class hams can request any vacant (not assigned) call sign that is formatted as a 2x3 call sign beginning with the letters "K" (KE3RLR) or "W" (WB2AMC) within the limits of their mailing address.

 

Mailing address.

 

Certain call signs are restricted to specific geographical areas.  You must have a mailing address specific to Alaskan, Pacific or Caribbean areas, or you will not receive a vanity call sign where the second letter in the call sign prefix is an L, H or P in conjunction with certain call area numbers.  For example,  "KL7???" is limited to only hams with a mailing address in Alaska.  A call sign that contains "KH6" (KH6IC) is restricted to hams with a Pacific Island address only.  Only radio amateurs who have Caribbean mailing addresses may apply for call signs that begin with "KP2", "NP2"  "WP2" and  "KP4", "NP4", and "WP4", etc.

 

Where to Find Available Vanity Call Signs

 

The following sites may have information to assist you:

 

Vanity Headquarters    www.vanityhq.com

QRZ   www.qrz.com

WM7D  ..   www.wm7d.net/fcc/callsign.html

Sunnyvale VEC  ..  www.amateur-radio.org/vanity.htm

hamdata.com  www.hamdata.com

AE7Q .   http://amateur.mailpen.net

FCC ...   www.fcc.gov/wtb/uls

ARRL  ...........................   www.arrl.org/arrlvec/vanity.html

 

A word of caution.  The FCC will not reassign a call sign that is presently licensed to an individual or club, unless they receive a request to have the license canceled--or until two years have elapsed since the license may have expired. Only one person or club can hold a single call sign at one time.  You can verify the FCC has canceled the license by looking up the FCC license call sign data at http://fcc.gov/wtb/uls.  If the license has been canceled, the FCC will show the license STATUS as "CANCELED".  So check to see if the license has been cancelled and if the date of cancellation is longer than two years.

 

Applying for a Vanity Call Sign

 

Step 1

 

Make a list of desired call signs (up to 25 calls) in priority order keeping in mind the rules about your license class and mailing address described above.

 

Step 2

 

Visit one of the sites listed above and enter the call signs on your list to determine which, if any, of your choices are available.  Unfortunately, if your search indicates that the call sign is not assigned to someone and is therefore theoretically available, that doesn't mean that someone else hasn't already applied for your number one choice.  That's why you want to have more than one choice.

 

Step 3

 

After confirming the probability that one or more of your call sign choices is available, the next step is to complete and submit your application for a vanity call sign.  You can do this in one of two ways: 

 

(1)  File on-line via the FCC web site (http://fcc.gov/wtb/uls)

   

(2)  Manual Filing

You can download the required forms from the FCC web site as indicated below: 

Form 605 Main Formhttp://www.fcc.gov/Forms/Form605/605main.pdf  -  This form is submitted with your vanity call sign application (Form 605, Schedule D).  It tells the FCC who you are, where you live and your current call sign and the purpose of your application.  The form itself is two pages long but there are several pages of instructions.  Read them carefully.  

 

Form 605, Schedule D - http://www.fcc.gov/Forms/Form605/605d.pdf  - This form is used to apply for a vanity call sign, indicate your applicant status, and tell the FCC your specific preferences for a vanity call sign (up to 25 choices) in priority order.  Your choices must be consistent with your license class.  You must be specific in your request for a vanity call sign.  You cannot indicate that you want a "call sign ending in RR".  The FCC 605 Main Form must be filed in conjunction with this schedule.

 

Form 159 - http://www.fcc.gov/Forms/Form159/159.pdf  - The FCC charges a fee for vanity call signs and this form is used for making your payment to the FCC for your vanity call sign.  The current fee (as of September 2004) for vanity call signs is $20.80 which you must pay in advance.  You may pay you application fee by personal check, money order, bank draft/check, or by credit card.  For money orders, checks and bank drafts, the fee is made payable to "FCC".  No matter which choice of payment you choose, you must complete Form 159.

         

Complete and mail all three forms and your application fee to the address indicated in the forms listed above.

Refunds:  Hams who submit a vanity call sign application but are not successful in obtaining a vanity call sign may apply for a refund of their application fee.  Since the FCC does not automatically refund the fee when an application is dismissed, you must write to FCC to obtain the refund.   Be sure to include the Taxpayer ID Number (TIN) which was listed on the Form 605 application when seeking a refund.  Mail your request for a refund to: 

FCC

1270 Fairfield Rd

Gettysburg PA 17325-7245