The Secretary of our club passed away unexpectedly last week. With Field Day rapidly approaching in the U.S., the board is wondering if there is any legitimate way for the club to use the deceased member's call sign for Field Day operations.

We can get permission from his only surviving relative but I don't know if that is satisfactory.

Can a club use the call sign of a very recently deceased member for Field Day operations?

  • $\begingroup$ The relative has no authority to transfer a license. This should bring about some interesting answers. Have you tried contacting the closest FCC office? $\endgroup$
    – SDsolar
    Jun 21, 2018 at 2:35
  • $\begingroup$ No but I've talked to the ARRL and they know of no way to do it. I've started the process of recovering the call as an "In Memoriam" club call. We'll get it, but not soon enough for this year. $\endgroup$
    – Lance
    Jun 21, 2018 at 13:21
  • $\begingroup$ The FCC has authority to issue a STA pending the outcome of the application. Be sure to file quickly, with both. (STA: Special Temporary Authority) If I have ever heard of a case for it to be used in ham radio, this is it. Can you contact the local FCC office (or nearest) and try to make a friend there? A personal heads-up is always appreciated by them, and you could well find someone who sees this as a good cause. $\endgroup$
    – SDsolar
    Jun 21, 2018 at 16:46
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you! At the moment though, the license still hasn't been cancelled. It's been 2 weeks today since I filed the cancellation request. $\endgroup$
    – Lance
    Jun 21, 2018 at 20:36
  • $\begingroup$ I would still go the friendly FCC route. They may well decide there is not time to do the paperwork so might turn a blind eye, without giving explicit permission. Field Day is coming up fast, and I sure couldn't make the decision to use it with him SK. So get your PLAN B ready. If nothing changes between now and then, what will you do? Answer will be something like this: Swear in a new trustee and use theirs, but make a big deal about the main guy who can't be with you. That is the only totally legal way to handle this for now. So the follow-up question is: Can you get a quorum? $\endgroup$
    – SDsolar
    Jun 22, 2018 at 1:42

2 Answers 2


I am sorry for your loss and I can appreciate your desire to honor him or her in such a way.

Unfortunately, such designated control operator use of a call is not permitted. 97.103 (b) states:

The station licensee must designate the station control operator...

This is not possible posthumously and probably wouldn't be allowed even if granted ante mortem in written form.

Your club could go through the process of obtaining the call for your club station or a licensed relative could obtain the call and allow you to use it but I doubt either could happen in time for this year's Field Day. The FCC process involves manual inspection of documents which will likely sideline the application for too long of a period for you to obtain a grant by June 23rd.

If you are an ARRL member or your club is an ARRL affiliate, you may want to call the ARRL VEC desk and ask what their recent experience is with the processing time for club or near relative honorarium call requests. This will help you judge if it is even a possibility.


I too am sorry for your loss.

I presume that your club would like to obtain your deceased member's call sign as a "vanity" (not sequentially issued) call sign for the club. The procedure is to first notify the FCC that your member has passed away, and request that the license be canceled. The ARRL has a web page that summarizes how to do so; you'll need some sort of proof, such as a copy of an obituary printed in the newspaper, or a copy of the death certificate. The request can be submitted online, by fax, or by mail. That web page says that the FCC typically take one to two weeks to cancel the license. You can discover whether the license has been canceled by checking the FCC ULS database online.

Once the license has been canceled, your club may submit a "vanity" call sign application request to the FCC. A club call signs is assigned to a trustee, that is a person who is responsible for the club's use of that call sign. A club can have any number of call signs, but for new applications, a person is only allowed to be a trustee for a single club call sign. In other words, the person listed on the application as the potential trustee must not already be the trustee of a club call sign.

The vanity call sign request can be submitted online. The FCC's web site has instructions. The proposed trustee will need to have a high-enough license class for the call sign; in other words, if the call sign is a 1x2, then the proposed trustee will need an Amateur-Extra-class license. The license application can be submitted online; the proposed trustee will need an FRN (FCC registration number).

The license application should specify the "in memoriam" provision, which indicates that the request is for the club to assume the call sign of the former member. If the application doesn't include that provision, then the request will be rejected. It would be a good idea for the club to get written permission from the surviving relative. The proof doesn't need to be submitted with the application, but it should be kept on file in case the application is disputed. (People have tried to abuse the vanity call sign system, skipping the usual two-year wait, by fraudulently obtaining call signs with the "in memoriam" provision before.)

To process vanity call sign applications, the FCC first wait 17 calendar days. Then, on the morning after the first federal work day thereafter, the FCC process the applications received on that day. (Source) Once the FCC's online database shows that the club call has been transferred, then you may use it.

Field Day this year is on the 23rd and 24th of June, 18 days from now. Unfortunately there won't be enough time for your club to get the call sign canceled and the vanity application processed before Field Day. You might as well get the ball rolling though, so that you can use the call sign for next year's Field Day!

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You're welcome. If you find the answer informative, please consider up-voting it. If your question has been answered satisfactorily, please accept one of the answers; if you don't, the question will be bumped to the top of the list by a bot every few weeks until the end of time. $\endgroup$
    – rclocher3
    Jun 7, 2018 at 16:01

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