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AMATEUR RADIO - OBTAINING 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 holds an Amateur Radio licensee (similar in purpose to Vanity license plates on cars). Vanity call signs usually include alphabetical characters of personal significance (eg, 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 (eg, 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).

A Vanity call sign can only be obtained in exchange (traded in) for an existing call. A new individual licensee or a new club cannot initially get a Vanity call sign as their first call sign.

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

Obtaining Vanity Call Signs
You can obtain a vanity call sign using either the Universal Licensing System or the document Forms 605 Schedule D and 159.

The FCC no longer charges a fee to applicants seeking a Vanity call sign. Once a vanity call sign is issued the old call is vacated and the new call becomes effective and remains effective until the end of the vacated call sign license expiration date. Vanity call holders must renew this license each ten-year renewal term following the same procedures as a normal call would need to be renewed. Amateurs renewing a vanity call sign may file via the FCC's Universal Licensing System.

There are up to three different request types for requesting vanity call signs, depending on whether the call sign is to apply to a primary or club station. The requester may list up to twenty-five call signs in order of preference. The exact prefix, numeral, and suffix must be given for each call sign. Requests stated in general terms such as, "Any call sign with my initials" or "Any call sign having the prefix (or suffix)______" will be dismissed. The first assignable call sign on the list for which the requester is eligible will be shown on the license grant for the requester's station and the original call sign will be vacated.

Objections to the assignment of requested call signs will not be entertained at the FCC. However, this does not hamper any party from asserting such rights as it may have under private law in some other forum. The FCC does not consider an individual to be a former holder where the call sign was originally obtained through bribery, fraud, favoritism or other improper means.

Call Sign Availability
A call sign is normally re-assignable two years following license expiration, surrender, revocation, set aside, cancellation, void ab initio, or death of the originasl grantee. Where a vanity call sign for which the most recent recipient was ineligible is surrendered, canceled, 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.

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 apparently vacant calls. The QRZ.com web site is one of those sites, which has been of great service to Amateur Extra class hams.

For Advanced, General, Technician Plus, 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. For such persons looking to develop their list of possible choices, the ARRL recommends 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 data bases to determine if your choices have already been assigned.
  3. For those (up to 25) choices that are not apparently assigned, arrange them in your desired order from most desired (#1) to your least preferred choice (#25).
For additional information on the availability of call signs, contact the FCC's duplicating contractor:

          Best Copy and Printing, Inc.
          Portals II
          445 12th St. S.W., Room CY-B402
          Washington, DC 20554
          Telephone: 202-488-5300
          Toll Free:   800-378-3160
          Fax:         202-488-5563
          Email:       fcc@bcpiweb.com

General Rules
  • You must hold an unexpired amateur operator/primary station license grant of the proper operator class, as described below, to request a vanity call sign for your primary station.
  • To request a vanity call sign for a club station, you must also hold an unexpired club station license grant listing you as the license trustee.
  • Your name and mailing address as shown on your current license grant must be correct.
  • If your license grant has expired you must first renew the license. After the grant, you may file a vanity call sign request. You can change your name or address at the time of your vanity call sign request, by filing FCC Form 605.
  • The call sign you are requesting may not already be assigned. Refer to the Universal Licensing System License Search for verification.
  • The license of the former holder now deceased must show a status of expired or canceled in the licensee database. This is accomplished by submitting a signed request for license grant cancellation accompanied by a copy of an obituary or data from the Social Security Death Index that shows the date of death, or a death certificate, to:

    FCC
    1270 Fairfield Road
    Gettysburg, PA. 17325-7245
The information for cancellation of a call sign must be submitted prior to filing the vanity application.

The autogrant system does not include review of any document, except a copy of your license, attached to Forms 159 and 605. Even where a call sign does not appear on the database, it may not be available for assignment.

To make the request, you can use either the Universal Licensing System or the document Forms 605 (edition date of July 2005 or later) Schedule D and 159.

Filing Electronically using the Universal Licensing System
Go to the Universal Licensing System, select Online Filing, and do the following:
  1. Login to the ULS License Manager with your FCC Registration Number (FRN). Note: Tax Payer Identification Numbers (TINs) can no longer be used to login to ULS, effective 14 December 2003.
  2. From your License At A Glance page, choose the Request Vanity Call Sign link on the right hand menu called Work on this License.
  3. Answer the Applicant Questions, and click Continue.
  4. Select Eligibility - Click in the radio button to the left of the eligibility requirement under which you wish to apply for a vanity call sign:
    • Former primary station holder - You are eligible to have the call sign which appears on your primary license displayed on your new vanity license if you are a former primary station holder.
    • Close relative of former holder - You may display the call sign of a deceased spouse, child, grandchild, stepchild, parent, grandparent, stepparent, brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, or in-law on your primary station license.
    • Primary station preference list - You may request one or more call signs that you provide in the correct Commission format in the order of your preference. ULS will validate the format of each call sign on your list in turn and select the first call sign in the correct format that has not already been assigned to another licensee.

    Note: You cannot receive a vanity call sign from a call sign group for which your operator class is not eligible. For example, if you are operator class T (technician), you can only receive call signs from groups C & D. If you request a call sign from groups A or B, your application will be dismissed by the Commission.
    After making your choice, click the Continue button.
  5. On the Licensee Information page, review and update all of your licensee information. Make any corrections that are necessary. You must keep your address of record current with the FCC. This address will be used to mail you all official correspondence including your license and related information. When ready select Continue.
  6. On the Summary page review the information you have entered. If you wish to make additional changes, click the Edit button next to the section of your application you wish to Edit. You will be able to return to that page of the application. Make the desired change(s) and select the Return to Summary button.
  7. When ready to submit your application to the Commission, choose the Continue to Certify button.
  8. After reading the certification, enter your first and last names and title if appropriate in the boxes at the bottom of the page. You MUST sign the application. When finished choose the Submit Application button.
  9. From the ULS Confirmation screen, we recommend you print a copy of your application and/or the Confirmation screen itself from your web browser.
Filing Manually
You can request forms 605 (edition date of July 2005 or later) and 159 by calling (800) 418-FORM (3676), download the form or call our Fax Information System at (202) 418-0177.

Your application package--completed documents Form 605 (edition date of July 2005 or later) and Form 159 in a sealed envelope --must show this mailing address:

Federal Communications Commission
Wireless Bureau Applications
P.O. Box 979097
St. Louis, MO. 63197-9097

If your application package is delivered by hand or courier, it must be prepared as described above and sealed within a second, outer envelope showing the following courier address:

Federal Communications Commission
c/o U.S. Bank
1005 Convention Plaza
St. Louis, MO. 63101
Attn: FCC Government Lockbox #979097,
         SL-MO-C2-GL