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Getting a transmitting license

Explains the license types available, and the purpose of the RAE (Radio Amateur Examination).

Written by: G0NZO ( Jules Smith ) Tuesday, 31 July 2007

The information below describes what is involved in getting licensed to transmit on the radio amateur bands.

  • Foundation Licence

    The entry Level is the Foundation licence. This is a new licence that was introduced in January 2002. The Foundation licence Is designed to get you involved in amateur radio as quickly as possible. But before you are allowed to transmit 'live' it is important that you know a little bit about how your radio works, the dangers of interfering with other radio users, how not to upset your neighbours or your parents (if you are a young person) and the rules and regulations of holding a radio transmitting licence.

    How do you learn these new skills? By taking the Foundation licence training course, which is an integral part of obtaining a Foundation licence. Most of the training is practical. There is a small amount of radio and electronics theory but only enough for your to appreciate things like using the correct fuses in your equipment and how to build an antenna to get the most out of your radio station.

    Don't be afraid of the thought of having to undertake a training course. The course are run in a friendly informal atmosphere by experienced radio amateurs. The course will take about 10-12 hours to complete at the end of which you will sit a twenty multiple-choice examination. Your exam paper will be marked on the spot and in the unlikely event of failing the exam you are able to sit it again after a short break and some reassuring words from your tutors. Courses are normally conducted at your local amateur radio club or if you're a younger entrant you may be able to take it at your school. Some clubs run the complete course over a weekend and some over a number of weeks. Once you have successfully completed the course you get your 'Pass' certificate and you are on your way! When you have been issued with your own individual M3 series callsign you will be able to operate on all bands with the exception of the 28MHz band without supervision but with a power restriction of 10 Watts. This is a fairly low level of power but with the experience you will quickly gain this will enable you to communicate around the world.

  • Intermediate Licence

    Once you have gained experience at the Foundation level we are sure you will want to take the next step up. This is the Intermediate licence.

    Intermediate licence gives access to all the amateur radio bands. The Permitted power levels are increased at the Intermediate level.

    To obtain the Intermediate licence it is again necessary to take a training course. This course is longer than the Foundation course and aims to teach many of the fundamentals of radio in a stimulating way by actually undertaking practical tasks such as soldering, building a small project and a variety of other exercises building on the experience you have gained as a Foundation licence holder.

    After completing the course candidates sit the Intermediate Radio Amateurs Examination. This is an internationally recognised examination. Again this examination is a multiple-choice test based on what was learnt on the course, covering the basic concepts of radio operating on the amateur bands and the licence conditions. With both of these successfully completed an Intermediate licence can be obtained.

  • Full Licences

    This is the highest level Radio Amateur licence that you can obtain..

    To gain this licence it is necessary to pass the Advance full licence Radio Amateurs Examination. This examination is more advanced than the Intermediate, it again covers radio theory and licence conditions but because holding a full licence enables you to use 400 Watts power output to your transmitter such subjects as Electro Magnetic Compatibility (EMC), antenna design and safety issues are covered in some depth. The licence allows access to all the amateur band allocations. Full power (400W) is permitted on most frequencies. There are some exceptions as noted in the licensing conditions.

    When studying for the Advance licence there is currently no requirement to take a formal training course, this is because the examination is theory based, with no practical training element in the syllabus. It is possible to study at home on your own if you so wish. However, many local amateur radio clubs and societies and technical colleges run courses specifically for the Advance licence examination.
    Also, many local radio clubs are RSGB registered examination centres where the Advance Radio Amateur Examinations are scheduled and conducted.


  • FRARS calender, showing current courses [Click here]
  • Ofcom information on amateur licences [Click here]

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