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To receive the amateur radio license Klasse A (HAREC) in Germany it is since 2005 not required anymore to pass a CW exam, due to a corresponding change in the Radio Regulations. However, the exam is still available as a voluntary addition to Klasse E or A.

If I can legally operate in CW without this 80€ exam, what exactly is the purpose of offering it, if not just as a personal 'proof of accomplishment'?

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There still are some countries where proof of the CW exam is necessary to be allowed to operate on HF. So when you visit those countries and you want to operate under the CEPT-system you need to prove you did the CW exam. In Belgium we are not required to do the CW exam anymore to get our HAREC licence but we also still have the possibility to pass it.

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  • $\begingroup$ Interesting issue - can you name a country or two where this exists? How do they know if my US Amateur Extra license was issued before or after the 20WPM test was dropped? And what does one do if their home country no longer offers any kind of official CW test? $\endgroup$ – mike65535 Nov 29 '18 at 13:58
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    $\begingroup$ Interesting point! Does that mean that the Harmonized Amateur Radio Examination Certificate in CEPT countries is actually not completely harmonized (yet)? $\endgroup$ – ahemmetter Nov 29 '18 at 14:15
  • $\begingroup$ yes probably... $\endgroup$ – ON5MF Jurgen Nov 29 '18 at 14:48
  • $\begingroup$ As far as I know France used to be a country where you needed to be able to prove you did a CW exam. But this info could be outdated now. It all depends on which version of the CEPT recommendation has been approved by the country you visit. $\endgroup$ – ON5MF Jurgen Dec 4 '18 at 9:45
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    $\begingroup$ @mike65535 Open the T/R 61-01 document and look in the footnotes. There are several countries which do ask for the exam and are listed there. Some also have different speed requirements. $\endgroup$ – AndrejaKo Dec 10 '18 at 10:41
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The original reason for the CW requirement was that there was no other mode. :) The reason that I was given in 1953 is that emergency/distress calls were often in CW. Nowadays, IMO tradition-inertia is the probable reason. It would be interesting to poll German hams to see how many have ever heard a CW distress call.

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  • $\begingroup$ no need to limit to German hams, I guess there are very little if any active hams that have ever heard a CW distress call. $\endgroup$ – ON5MF Jurgen Nov 29 '18 at 14:47

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