Can my license from the United States be used to operate while I'm in the United Kingdom?
Yes, with some extra paperwork. ARRL has most of the rules for international operating. In the case of a US operator in the UK, you'd be operating under CEPT. You'd need to be an Extra - General licenses are recognized in some countries, but not in the UK. You'd also need proof of license and US citizenship, and a copy of the FCC official notice. Of course, you'd be subject to local frequency range limits.
I hold an Amateur Extra licence from the United States and have moved to the United Kingdom. I sent an application to Ofcom for a Full reciprocal licence and received the following response.
I can operate for three months for free, then £20 each six months for an indefinite length. I plan on arguing my case as the United States does not issue Harmonized Amateur Radio Examination Certificates (HAREC) but there is past precedent for the UK issuing Full licences to US Amateur Extras.
Ofcom have not been able to issue you with an Amateur Full reciprocal because your licence needs to be part of the T/R 61-02 arrangement. You can certainly operate up to three months at a time the UK when visiting under the T/R 61-01 licence that you hold.
The options are to apply for a Temporary Reciprocal Licence which would cost £20 and would only be valid for 6 months with the requirement to renew each time at the administrative cost of £20
Therefore, if you are residing here for a while, it would seem a better option to simply sit the Amateur Full licence examination via the Radio Society of Great Britain and issue a licence free of charge online once you have passed.
The UK is a signatory of European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT) Recommendations T/R 61-01 or T/R 61-02.
Unfortunately, the Radio Society of Great Britain's page Operating for Visitors is Under Constuction which is not very helpful :(
However, there is some useful information of the OFCOM (the regulatory body) website
Simply put, you can operate here for three months using your own licence, or longer with a reciprocal licence.
The short answer is YES you can operate in the UK if,
1) you hold an U.S. FCC ADVANCED or EXTRA class license. These two FCC license classes are recognized as a national (US) license that is equivalent to the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT) Radio Amateur Radio license and can operate on all frequencies allocated to this license class. However, this equivalence and operating privilege is only valid for temporary visits. If you intend to stay longer than the typical "visitor or tourist" visa allows then you have to apply for a CEPT license.
The UK is a signatory to the CEPT agreement. If operating from UK England then you need to preface your call sign with the letter M. Isle of Man uses the MD call sign prefix. No Ireland uses MI.
T/he U.S. FCC general class license is only recognized as the equivalent of the C/EPT Novice Radio License and can only operate in the frequency bands allocated to the CEPT Novice class. It is also subject to the "temporary" Visa restriction.
Thus if you are not going to stay longer than a tourist / visitor Visa allows then you do not need to apply for a CEPT Amateur Radio License.
When operating temporarily in a CEPT country with a US FCC license you need to have in your possession, 1) a copy of the FCC public notice DA 16-1048 09/16/2016, 2) proof of U.S. citizenship (passport), and 3) evidence of your FCC license grant. It is good to also have a copy of the CERT agreement referenced below.
Why? Many authorities are not familiar with FCC & CERT regulations. Imagine getting stopped by UK Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) at the London Heathrow airport with hand held radios and other radio gear in your possession! It might raise some concern given security and safety concerns. Why do you have this equipment in your possession? Having your FCC license, passport, FCC notice and the CEPT agreement documents will go a long way to explaining why you are in possession of this radio equipment, especially with an administrative or law officer who is not familiar with Amateur radio.
More information can be found in ......
FCC Public Notice DA 16-1048 Sept. 16, 2016 AMATEUR SERVICE OPERATION IN CEPT COUNTRIES
"...When the privileges authorized by the FCC license grant are Advanced or Amateur Extra Class operator privileges, the U.S. citizen is granted CEPT Radio Amateur License privileges, in accordance with CEPT Recommendation T/R 61-01 (as amended). When the privileges authorized by the FCC license grant are General Class operator privileges, the U.S. citizen is granted CEPT Novice Radio Amateur License privileges, in accordance with ECC Recommendation (05)06 (as amended). Both recommendations are available on the internet at http://www.ero.dk/. "
REFER Also to document, CEPT Radio Amateur License, recommendation T/R 61-01 Approved NICE 1985: amended May 2016
Table 1 lists the countries that recognize a US (national) license as being CEPT license equivalent valid for "temporary" stays in the foreign country.
My comment: The amateur radio license requirement for Morse code proficiency was eliminated by the US FCC. Hence, the General class license only qualifies for novice privileges since some countries only allow CEPT Radio Amateur License privileges to licensees who have demonstrated the Morse code proficiency 13 WPM in an FCC exam, or hold the EXTRA class license. Many countries are reviewing this requirement.
(The FCC Advanced class license is no longer offered by the FCC but has been grandfathered. Holders of an advanced class license had to pass the 13 WPM Morse code proficiency test thus it is also granted full CEPT Radio Amateur License privileges. I have held the Advanced Class license since 1974. At the time, the Extra Class licensee was required to pass a 25 WPM Morse code proficiency exam. This requirement has been eliminated. As we all know, Morse code proficiency tests are no longer required by the FCC.)
W0JMO - Joe