Getting a free Amateur Radio Vanity Call Sign

I have been getting a few questions about Vanity Call Signs. This should be a fairly complete doc on how to obtain your Vanity Call Sign. Please note you will have to already have a license and hence already have an FRN with the FCC. Much of this is a copy/paste from the site so it will not reflect changes made after this post date.

Instead of simply directing folks to the site I decided to compile the info into a single page. I think it is easier to understand in this format. Let me know. (The goal is to make things easier for people)

Anyone can change their call sign at any time as long as they hold an active Amateur radio license. 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. You can search for potential Vanity Call Signs Here. (TIP: putting in a partial call sign still yields results.)

On the application you may list up to twenty-five call signs in order of preference. The first available/assignable call sign on the list will be given and your original (current)  call sign will be removed.

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. If you let your call sign lapse and lost your call sign during the last 2 years and it has not been re-issued then you may be able to get it back.

The FCC Regulatory Fee was eliminated for Amateur Radio Vanity call signs in September 2015. There are no regulatory fees associated with FCC issued vanity call signs. However, non-FCC organizations may charge a processing fee for filing an application to FCC on your behalf. Around 95% of all vanity applications are filed online to speed up the application process.

IMPORTANT ! – If your license has expired or you have moved and need to file a change of address, you must submit the license renewal or address change BEFORE you submit the vanity application.

File Online:
Your FCC license record is password protected. 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 December 14, 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:
    1. 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.
    2. 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. An “in-law” is limited to a parent, stepparent, sibling, or step-sibling of a licensee’s spouse; 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.
  5. 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 which is not already assigned to another licensee.
    1. Please note there is an 18-20 day mandatory waiting period for the application before it will be complete. This is to allow time for manual entry (into the FCC computers) of mailed-in applications and ensure there are no competing applications.
    2. 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.
  6. After making your choice, click the Continue button.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. When ready to submit your application to the Commission, choose the Continue to Certify button.
  10. 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.
  11. From the ULS Confirmation screen, we recommend you print a copy of your application and/or the Confirmation screen itself from your web browser.

Many people want to know the progress of their application. To see this while logged into the FCC site you will click “My Applications”. The statuses are:

Received = Application is received by the FCC system
Pending = Status of an application that has been successfully filed in ULS and is awaiting FCC action.
Granted = Approved by the FCC.


File Manually (By Mail):
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, and the proper fee in a sealed envelope–must show this mailing address:
Federal Communications Commission
Wireless Bureau Applications
P. O. Box 979097
St. Louis, MO, 63197-9000

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

Call sign format:
The format of the call sign you qualify for is determined by your license class. The higher your license class, the shorter the call sign you are able to obtain. (For instance, Technicians and General Class amateurs also may select a new 1-by-3 call sign.) 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 1×2, 2×1 or 2×2 (beginning with letter “A”) Extra class type call signs, they can seek a 2×2 or 1×3 call sign (beginning with prefix N, K or W), or a 2×3 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 1×3 call sign (beginning with prefix N, K or W), or 2×3 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 2×3 call sign (beginning with prefix letter K or W) of their choice — FCC call sign Group D.

The following call signs are not available for assignment:

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.

General Rules

  • You must hold an unexpired amateur operator/primary station license grant of the proper operator class 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 renewal of your license is granted, 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 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 cancelled in the licensee database. See Section 97.31(a). This is accomplished by submitting a request that includes a death certificate or obituary that shows the person named in the operator/primary station license grant has died. Such a request may be submitted as a pleading associated with the deceased licensee’s license and sent to:
    1270 Fairfield Road
    Gettysburg, PA 17325-7245

Note that FCC no longer automatically prints and mails a copy of your license to you, because your true license is legally the data in the ULS (see FCC rules, US Title 47 CFR §97.5(a) & US Title 47 CFR §97.7(a)).

Have fun and 73’s,

Let me know what questions you want me to address or if anything is unclear. My email is



About K0FEY

I am a member of the Eden Prairie Radio club. This is a Minnesota Ham Radio Enthusiast club and we promote experimentation and learning through the Amateur Radio hobby. Come check into a net on Sunday with us or better yet meet us in person on the 3rd Thursday of the month.
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