Reading Assignment

Read Chapter 7, Pages 7-16 to 7-21 in your text before you continue.

International Telecommunication Union

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is the leading United Nations agency for information and communication technology issues.

ITU was founded in Paris in 1865 as the International Telegraph Union. It took its present name in 1934, and in 1947 became a specialized agency of the United Nations.

Although its first area of expertise was the telegraph, the work of ITU now covers the whole ICT sector, from digital broadcasting to the Internet, and from mobile technologies to 3D TV.

An organization of public-private partnership since its inception, ITU currently has a membership of 193 countries and some 700 private-sector entities. ITU is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, and has twelve regional and area offices around the world.

ITU's Radio communication Sector (ITU-R) coordinates this vast and growing range of radio communication services, as well as the international management of the radio-frequency spectrum and satellite orbits. An increasing number of players need to make use of these limited resources, and participating in ITU-R conferences and study group activities - where important work is done on mobile broadband communications and broadcasting technologies such as Ultra HDTV and 3D TV - is becoming an ever-higher priority for both governments and industry players.

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), in its International Radio Regulations, divides the world into three ITU regions for the purposes of managing the global radio spectrum. Each region has its own set of frequency allocations, the main reason for defining the regions.

Region 1 comprises Europe, Africa, the Middle East west of the Persian Gulf including Iraq, the former Soviet Union and Mongolia.

Region 2 covers the Americas, Greenland and some of the eastern Pacific Islands.

Region 3 contains most of non-former-Soviet-Union Asia, east of and including Iran, and most of Oceania.

Contacts between amateur stations, located in different parts of the world, can be a basis for obtainment many awards or be used to classification in contests. For these purposes the World is divided in ITU Zones (called sometimes IARU Zones).

ITU is very important for radio communication services, including the amateur and amateur-satellite services. Every three or four years the ITU holds a World Radio communication Conference (WRC), usually in Geneva, to revise the international Radio Regulations. There is a lengthy preparatory process for every WRC. The ARRL participates in the domestic preparatory process in the United States and the IARU participates in the process at the international level.

International Operating

You are allowed to operate your amateur station in a foreign country when the foreign county allows it.

Amateur radio international reciprocal operating agreements permit Amateur Radio Operators (Hams) from one country to operate a station while traveling in another without the need to obtain additional licenses or permits. When no agreement exists between countries, amateur radio operators are often required to apply for a reciprocal operating permit or a full amateur radio license and call sign from the host country.



The Inter-American Telecommunication Commission (CITEL) agreement allows an International Amateur Radio Permit (IARP) to be issued, by a member-society of the International Amateur Radio Union (ARRL in the U.S.)

The (IARP) allows foreign operation within North and South American treaty countries without the need to obtain an additional license or permit.


European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT). CEPT License Member Nations of the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations all share the same amateur radio reciprocal licensing requirements. Amateurs are permitted to operate from most European countries without the requirement of obtaining additional licensees or permits.

The following countries outside of Europe also participate in CEPT: Australia, Canada, Israel, Netherlands Antilles, New Zealand, Peru, South Africa, and the United States.

CEPT member countries accept:US Advanced Class Licenses and US Amateur Extra Class Licenses.

Domestic Licenses

Citizens of the United States or Canada may operate in the other country as a domestically licensed station, as if their license had been issued in that country, without the requirement of obtaining any license or permission from the other government.

An American or Canadian amateur may allow third party use of his station and call sign, carry international third party traffic, serve as a temporary control operator for a repeater station, and identify themselves as a domestic station using the national call sign system, provided: 1. The Licensee has citizenship and a valid amateur radio license from the country for their residency. 2. The Licensee appends the local US/Canadian Zone(Region) to the END of their call sign when identifying their station. 3. The Licensee adheres to the operating powers, frequency (band) allocations, and laws pertaining to the country where they are currently operating.

International Waters

An FCC licensed amateur can operate from any vessel or craft located in international waters and documented or registered in the United States.

If the vessel is not a U.S. registered vessel, then amateur radio operators in international waters or airspace are subject to the reciprocal licensing requirements pertaining to the country under which the vessel is flagged. Permission by the vessels Captain, for on-board use of amateur radio equipment, is often a legal requirement.


International Communications incidental to the purposes of the amateur service and remarks of a personal character are permitted by an FCC-licensed amateur station.

However, FCC-licensed amateur stations are prohibited from exchanging communications with any country whose administration has notified the ITU that it objects to such communications.


U.S. Call Signs

ITU_MapEach station is assigned a call sign which is used to identify the station during transmissions.

Amateur station call signs in the US take the format of one or two letters (the prefix), then a numeral (the call district), and finally between one and three letters (the suffix). The number of letters used in the call sign is determined by the operator's license class and the availability of letter combinations. The format of the call sign is often abbreviated as X-by-X where a number in place of the X indicates the quantity of letters, separated by a single digit of the call district.

There are 13 geographically based regions. The FCC has discarded the requirement that a station be located in the corresponding numerical district. At one time the call sign W1xxx would have been solid identification that the station was in New England (district 1), that is no longer the case, and W1xxx may be located anywhere in the USA.

A newly licensed amateur will always receive a call sign from the district in which he or she lives. The amateur may thereafter apply for a specific or specialized call sign under the Vanity Licensing program.


Vanity Call Sign

The vanity call as it is called in the United States is a special sign selected by the amateur. The FCC in the U.S. and Industry Canada permit hams to apply for a call that has special meaning to them.

For example, Rob might apply for the call KA6ROB because of his first name. You cannot choose from the class group if you are not eligible for that group of calls because of your class of license. There is a nominal charge for the vanity call. You can apply for a vanity call on the FCC website.

Portable or Mobile Operation

If an amateur operator is in a province, state or country other than his or her own then he/she is working portable. If he was in Florida then the call sign VE3BUC Portable W4 would be used. W5AX in New York would use W5AX/W2. Although a common practice for U.S. hams who have moved to a new state is to continue with their old call sign. Thus N2AB who moves to Texas might be using the same call without the portable indication. But he could sign N2AB/5.

In most areas of the world the portable prefix comes before the call. Thus if KQ6VP was active in Mexico the call would be XE2/KQ6VP pronounced XE2/KQ6VP or just XE2 KQ6VP.

When working mobile you would use a call such as NO6NO/M pronounced as "NO6NO mobile."

One or more indicators may be included with the call sign. Each indicator must be separated from the call sign by the slant mark (/)(also called slash or stroke) or by any suitable word that denotes the slant mark. If an indicator is self-assigned, it can be included before, after, or both before and after, the call sign. Importantly, no self-assigned indicator may conflict with any other indicator specified by the FCC Rules or with any prefix assigned to another country.

International Call Signs

International Call Sign Allocation: Prefixes beginning with both letters and numbers are allocated to countries around the world that have Amateur Radio licensing. For a complete list of these allocations Click on International Call Sign Allocation table.


Special Call Signs are used in many countries to commemorate a special event. These special event call signs usually have an unusual prefix so that the station using the call will be easily recognized. For example the calls M2000A and 7S2000M were heard quite often commemorating the year 2000. CI3O was used in 1996 for the Charles Island DXpedition.

They may commemorate the birthday of a famous person especially someone who contributed to radio or electronics, Tesla, for example. Many of these special events also have unique QSL cards that are well worth the effort to make the contact and to send for the card.

1X1 or one by one calls can be issued for a special event. Such as K1T for Kit Carson's Birthday. These events are usually of a very short duration.


A club station license allows members of an amateur radio club to have a station operating under a club call sign. The license is granted only to the trustee of the club. It conveys no operating privileges. To be granted a club station license, a club must have:

  • A name
  • A document of organization
  • Management
  • A primary purpose devoted to amateur service activities consistent with the FCC Rules
  • At least four persons
  • A license trustee designated by an officer of the club
  • Trustee must hold an amateur service operator license grant

A club may apply for a club station license grant by filing with a Club Station Call Sign Administrator (CSCSA), an amateur radio organization that has agreed to provide voluntary, uncompensated and unreimbursed services for processing applications. If you are an amateur radio operator and would like to obtain a club station license, contact a CSCSA such as the ARRL-VEC Department.


Your quiz will tell you what information you need to know. Pass the quizzes - pass the exam!

Tips on how to remember the correct answer are included.

You can take the quiz as often as you wish.

No one but you will see the quiz results.

Take Quiz 18

Recommended reading

Operating Tips for New Hams on HF

Review the Term Glossary in Chapter 10 of your Ham Radio License Manual

Practice Exams are available at and there are links to many other test practice sites also.