ARRL

Vanity Call Signs

FCC's Vanity Call Sign Program

                        INFORMATION AND CALL SIGN AVAILABILITY

Vanity Call Signs

  • About the Program

    The FCC offers amateur licensees the opportunity to request a specific call sign for a primary station and for a club station. A call sign is selected by the FCC from a list of call signs requested by the licensee or license trustee. Military recreation stations are not eligible for a vanity call sign.

  • What is a Vanity Call Sign?

    A Vanity call sign is a special Amateur Radio call sign specifically chosen by a person or club who is currently an Amateur Radio licensee (similar in purpose to Vanity license plates on cars). Vanity call signs usually include alphabetical characters of personal significance (e.g., licensees initials, parts of names, hobbies, etc), or sometimes are simply chosen because they are shorter calls, or sometimes they have double or triple duplicate characters (e.g., W1WWW).

    A Vanity call sign is a call sign that the licensee wants assigned by the FCC for use in place of an existing call sign (or for an Amateur Radio club, it is a call sign assigned to replace the existing FCC-assigned club license call sign).

    Newly licensed individuals and newly licensed clubs cannot get a Vanity call sign as their first call sign. A Vanity call sign can only be obtained in exchange (traded in) for an existing call.

    There is a two year waiting period after the cancellation of a call sign before it is available to be applied for as a vanity call sign. However, there are exceptions to this two year waiting period. Please see "FCC Rules" section below.

    The FCC charges an annual fee for the Vanity call sign (payable up front for the entire ten year license term) FCC Regulatory Fee.

    For persons who have no interest in a special call sign, the FCC will issue, at no charge, a systematically assigned call sign (next one up in their computer system, with the type {group} of call sign and call area number determined by the FCC computer based on the applicant's license class and license address).
     

  • Choosing a Vanity Call Sign

    Whether you are applying as an individual or a club trustee, there will be some limits on the types of vacant Vanity call signs that may be available to you, depending on your license class or mailing address.

    First, the FCC does not limit the Vanity call sign choice numeral (0-9). For example, you can be a W1-land addressee, and have a W6 (California) type call if you so desire.

    Also, aside from a very few FCC-limited choices, Extra class licensees can choose virtually any vacant but valid US call sign -- FCC call sign Groups A, B, C or D. Although Advanced class licensees cannot seek the special 1x2, 2x1 or 2x2 (beginning with letter "A") Extra class type call signs, they can seek a 2x2 or 1x3 call sign (beginning with prefix N, K or W), or a 2x3 call sign (beginning with prefix letter K or W) -- FCC call sign Groups B, C or D. General or Technician class licensees can seek a 1x3 call sign (beginning with prefix N, K or W), or 2x3 call sign (beginning with prefix letter K or W) -- FCC call sign Groups C or D. Novice licensees also have access to the Vanity program. Novices can seek a 2x3 call sign (beginning with prefix letter K or W) of their choice -- FCC call sign Group D.

    Unless you have a mailing address specific to Alaskan, Pacific or Caribbean areas, you would not be able to obtain certain call signs where the second prefix letter is an L, H or P in conjunction with certain call area numbers (e.g., KL7??? is limited to Alaskan addressees only, KH6??? to Pacific Island addressees only, KP4??? to Caribbean addressees only, etc).

    Club call signs are limited per above and also are limited based on the class of license held by the trustee at the time of application. Should the club trustee change and the trustees license class is of a different qualifying class, the clubs’ call sign will not change.

    Even when a call sign does not appear on the FCC database, it may not be available for assignment.
     

  • Call Sign Choices Not Available

    According to the FCC's Vanity web page on Call Sign Availability, a call sign is normally assignable two years following license expiration, surrender, revocation, set aside, cancellation, void ab initio, or death of the grantee.  However, there are exceptions to this two year waiting period. Please see "FCC Rules" section below.

    Where a vanity call sign for which the most recent recipient was ineligible is surrendered, cancelled, revoked or voided, the two-year requirement does not apply.

    Refer to the Sequential Call Sign System for how call signs are sequentially assigned and the grouping and geographic region attributes of each call sign.

    The following call signs are not available for assignment:

         1.  KA2AA-KA9ZZ, KC4AAA-KC4AAF, KC4USA-KC4USZ, KG4AA-KG4ZZ,
              KC6AA-KC6ZZ, KL9KAA- KL9KHZ, KX6AA-KX6ZZ;
         2.  Any call sign having the letters SOS or QRA-QUZ as the suffix;
         3.  Any call sign having the letters AM-AZ as the prefix (these prefixes
              are assigned to other countries by the ITU);
         4.  Any 2-by-3 format call sign having the letter X as the first letter of the suffix;
         5.  Any 2-by-3 format call sign having the letters AF, KF, NF, or WF as the prefix
              and the letters EMA as the suffix (U.S Government FEMA stations);
         6.  Any 2-by-3 format call sign having the letters AA-AL as the prefix;
         7.  Any 2-by-3 format call sign having the letters NA-NZ as the prefix;
         8.  Any 2-by-3 format call sign having the letters WC, WK, WM, WR, or WT
              as the prefix (Group X call signs);
         9.  Any 2-by-3 format call sign having the letters KP, NP or WP as the prefix
              and the numeral 0, 6, 7, 8 or 9;
       10.  Any 2-by-2 format call sign having the letters KP, NP or WP as the prefix
              and the numeral 0, 6, 7, 8 or 9;
       11.  Any 2-by-1 format call sign having the letters KP, NP or WP as the prefix
              and the numeral 0, 6, 7, 8 or 9;
       12.  Call signs having the single letter prefix (K, N or W), a single digit numeral
              0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and a single letter suffix are reserved for the
              special event call sign system. 

    Even when a call sign does not appear on the FCC database, it may not be available for assignment.
     

  • Locating Available Call Signs

    For Extra class licensees seeking the rare 1x2 or 2x1 Extra class type call signs, some on line databases exist that attempt to list the potentially vacant calls. These web sites are of great service to Extra class hams.

    For Advanced, General, Technician or Novice class amateurs, the number of possible choices (in the tens of thousands) is so great that it has been impractical for a data base to attempt to provide all of the possibly vacant call signs available to these amateurs.
             ____________________________________________________________

          Several databases can be found on the World Wide Web to assist you.

                        RadioQTH                    AE7Q                    FCC

                    Even when a call sign does not appear on the FCC database, 
                                  it may not be available for assignment.
              ____________________________________________________________

               For individuals looking to develop their list of possible choices,
                                 we recommend the following approach:


         1.  Write down the types of suffixes, the call area number(s) and the
              prefix types you may desire;
         2.  Assemble some call signs using your desired components and
              then check on line databases to determine if your choices have
              already been assigned;
         3.  For those choices that are not apparently assigned (FCC accepts
              up to 25 call sign choices), arrange them in your desired order
              from most desired (#1) to your last choice (#25).
     

  • FCC Rules

    The complete list of FCC Part 97 Amateur Radio Services Rules and Regulations may be viewed here on the ARRL Web.

    Exceptions to the Two Year Waiting Period

    • Former Holders of the Call Sign: A former holder of the call sign is exempt
      from the general rule that a call sign shown on an expired, surrendered,
      revoked, set aside, canceled or voided license is unavailable to the vanity
      call sign system for two years.
    • “Close Relatives” of the Licensee: The term “in-law” includes “only a parent,
      step-parent, sibling, or step-sibling of a licensee’s spouse; and the spouse
      of a licensee’s sibling, step-sibling, child, or stepchild; or the spouse of a
      licensee’s spouse’s sibling or step-sibling.” The other “close relatives” are
      the deceased former holder’s spouse, children, grandchildren, stepchildren,
      parents, grandparents, stepparents, brothers, sisters, stepbrothers, stepsisters,
      aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews.
    • “In Memoriam” Call Signs: One exception to the two year waiting period
      applies to licenses for club stations who request the call sign of a deceased
      licensee when the club station trustee has the written consent of a close relative
      of the deceased. The FCC codified that the decedent’s club membership need
      not be current at the time of his or her death, as long as the decedent was a
      bona fide
      member of the club at some time during his or her life.

    Availability of Call Signs Assigned to Stations of Deceased Licensees

    • The FCC has codified that a signed request for license cancellation
      accompanied by a copy of a death certificate, an obituary or data
      from the Social Security Death Index [SSDI] that shows the date of
      death is necessary to cancel the license of a deceased amateur.
    • The FCC clarified the rules to provide that the two year waiting period
      starts on the licensee’s date of death.
    • A call sign that is canceled due to the death of a licensee more than
      two years earlier, or within 30 days before the second anniversary of
      the licensee’s death, will remain unavailable to the vanity call sign
      system for 30 days following the date the staff takes action to cancel
      the license.

    Ineligible Applicants

    • When a vanity call sign for which the most recent recipient was ineligible
      is surrendered, cancelled, revoked or voided, the two year requirement
      does not apply; however, the call sign will not be made available to the
      vanity call sign system for 30 days after information regarding the
      acknowledgement or determination of ineligibility is posted to the license
      in the Commission’s licensing system.