Operating Amateur Radio Overseas

This page was created following a request for information from one UK-based Essex Ham member:

“I’m off to the US on a business trip tomorrow. I have my radio packed and full license printed, but I’m trying to find concrete proof that I can operation in the US.”

The answer is “yes”, and we’ll explain why.

Out first port of call to double-check was the RSGB’s Operating Abroad page, which did contain some useful information, but not a concrete answer. This page will hopefully fill in some of the gaps:

Operating under CEPT

CEPT is a European organisation dealing with telecommunications. They are responsible for the document that allows UK amateurs to operate overseas – This is called “CEPT Recommendation T/R 61-01

The UK is a member of CEPT, as are quite a number of European countries. T/R 61-01 allows a full licence holder to operate in a CEPT country, subject to conditions. You can find a list of CEPT countries in the PDF here: CEPT Recommendation T/R 61-01

CEPT Operating Rules

  • CEPT TR 61-01 allows for temporary use whilst visiting (typically a maximum of 3 months).
  • You must have a copy of your UK licence (bearing the CEPT logo) with you when operating
  • You must adhere to the licence conditions (power, band plan, etc) of the country you’re visiting
  • You must start your callsign with the country prefix listed in the CEPT document – So, operating in France, you would call as “F stroke M0QQQ”

Operating in the US

Ahh – But the US is not a CEPT country!

Some countries, outside CEPT, have agreed to the T/R 61-01 conditions, in the interest of harmony with other radio amateurs. The following note is found in the Ofcom Guidance for Licencees PDF:

“Some countries that are not members of CEPT have also agreed to apply Recommendation T/R 61-01. All of the countries that have agreed to apply Recommendation T/R 61-01 (whether or not they are members of CEPT) are listed on the CEPT website.”

The CEPT site can be found here: CEPT website – This is a list of countries, and the page also contains a PDF of CEPT T/R 61-01

Confirmation from the US ARRL

The US equivalent of the RSGB, the ARRL, gives some solid guidance on their Foreign Licenses operating in the US page:

“Foreign amateurs who wish to operate in the US and are not US licensees or citizens may do so in one of three ways:”

Holders of a UK Full licence are covered under the first point:

“If the country of which you are a citizen and an amateur licensee has entered into a multilateral operating agreement with the US, CEPT or IARP, no additional permit is required – simply bring your CEPT or IARP documentation when you visit the US. Identify your station by the US call district identifier, such as W3/G1ABC. Use “W” and the number of the FCC call letter district in which you are operating followed by a slash and your home call sign (plus any other CEPT or IARP requirements). Amateurs must be a citizen of the country in which they are licensed. Check these links for a list of the US call districts shown graphically or for a text listing. And make sure to check the current information with the FCC. This is intended for short visits.”

 

Permanent Overseas Licence

We’ve been asked by a resident in Spain how they can get a UK licence to use in Spain.

The only way to operate overseas on a UK licence is to get a Full UK licence. This requires you to pass the Foundation, Intermediate and Full exams (in that order). The Foundation & Intermediate exams include practical sessions. There are options to do all 3 exams in one day, notably at the annual RSGB conference, otherwise, it’s a case of using local UK clubs to do the practicals and take the exams.

Once all three are passed, you’re issued with a Full UK licence. A UK Full licence holder can then operate temporarily whilst visiting overseas in CEPT countries, or if the country is a CEPT member, you can apply for a reciprocal licence using something called a UK HAREC (Harmonised Amateur Radio Examination Certificate). The HAREC proves that the person has completed the required exams to qualify for a licence in other CEPT countries. The UK Full licence includes a HAREC by default. You’d use a UK HAREC to ask the overseas regulator to issue you with a licence.

 

Other Guidance

  • Citizenship: We’ve read that it’s advisable to carry proof that you are a citizen of the country from which you got your licence. A passport would do nicely.
  • Customs: The RSGB site notes: “There is usually little problem with customs. It certainly helps to be able to show that the equipment was purchased abroad and is not being exported. Unfortunately, neither a reciprocal licence nor operation under CEPT regulations is deemed an exemption from customs formalities.”
  • Bands Plans & Licence Conditions: See www.iaru.org/member-societies.html for a list of bodies in each country – Copies of paperwork can be obtained from the national society in the target country

 

Hopefully, that helps. Any comments or suggestions, please add them below.

 

One Comment

  1. Avatar Andy G4XNG 24 June 2020 Reply

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