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If, as an amateur radio operator, you're licensed in one country with a callsign, let's suppose, the US and you migrate to, say, Germany, will you have to reapply and obtain a new callsign?

  1. What if your migration is temporary, and you're only living there for a few years — can you continue using your old callsign?

  2. What if it's permanent?

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    $\begingroup$ Every country has its own amateur radio regulations, so the answer may vary by country. Do you want an answer for a specific pair of countries you're considering, or one covering general principles? Please edit your question to clarify this. $\endgroup$
    – Kevin Reid AG6YO
    Feb 19, 2019 at 2:39
  • $\begingroup$ Hi @KevinReidAG6YO, I'll clarify here instead because I think the question is clear enough. I was asking more in general and would've considered "your depends" as a valid answer as well since I had no idea if this were a country-by-country thing or an ITU thing regulated thing. $\endgroup$ Feb 19, 2019 at 22:15

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I have done exactly that.

I had a US amateur extra class license when I moved to Germany. As a legal resident of Germany, I applied for and received a reciprocal (no test required) German license with the call DJ0IQ. Yes, it was a requested/vanity call sign to match my US call. The good folks at DARC (the German equivalent to ARRL) helped me with that.

During the time I lived in Germany, I retained my US W9IQ license since the only requirement to do so was to have a valid US mailing address in my FRN profile with the FCC. I could have retained my US license indefinitely this way.

When I would visit the US, the FCC regulations required me to use my US call sign. When I was travelling outside of Germany and the US, I could use the call sign most suitable to the situation.

When I moved back to the US several years later, I again updated my mailing address in my FRN profile and resumed operating with my US call.

While living in Germany, look up your local ham radio club - DARC maintains a list. It is a great way to meet local hams and get into local ham radio activities. The are also a number of ham radio swapfests in Germany. Check out your local ham radio dealer as well. I lived within 30 minutes from WiMo so I was a regular in their store. They even casually offered me a position at one point because they needed someone with strong English skills to support their international growth.

A nice, technically oriented, monthly ham radio magazine in Germany is FUNKAMATEUR. You can pick it up in all book/magazine shops in Germany.

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More generally, anyone that can pass an authorized US amateur radio license exam may hold a US amateur radio license. There is no requirement to be, to become, or to ever have been, a resident of the US. You must, however, have a valid US mailing address in your FRN. Many non-residents simply use the mailing address of a friend, a colleague, or a mail forwarding service. I knew several European hams that held US amateur radio licenses under these circumstances.

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    $\begingroup$ Ha same situation for me as well, and I also work just 3 bus stops away from WiMo. By the way, the callsign situation in Germany is a bit simpler now. There's a list of issues callsigns here, so it's possible to check if a callsign is free, and there's a spot in the application form for the license where you can put a list of the preferred callsigns. Here's a link to the forms in English. $\endgroup$
    – AndrejaKo
    Mar 5, 2019 at 14:05

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