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The event I'm currently attending hosts Ham exams, and it's kind of likely that the student would pass on first attempt; would it make sense for him to take the exam? Can he just go home to China and use the license to transmit on amateur bands?

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A bit of Googling led me here: http://www.crac.org.cn/?p=1646

According to that page, a visitor to China would need to submit an application for an "AMATEUR RADIO OPERATOR’S CERTIFICATE FOR VISITORS", along with their foreign licence, their foreign passport and their Chinese visa.

The implication here is that if a Chinese national wants to get a US licence and then operate in China, they can not do that (since they have a Chinese passport and don't have a visa to enter China, obviously).

It sounds like they should take the exam in China to get their local amateur radio licence.

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This would depend on what if any reciprocity agreements are in place between the USA and China. If I (a US Amateur Extra license holder) were to travel to Europe as a tourist, I'd need to print a specific document and carry it with me, along with a printed copy of my license (and passport, but I should have that anyway). If I were to travel to most of Latin America, I wouldn't have to do anything special. There are places where I'd have to effectively get a local license (if they'd even issue one to a foreigner) to operate.

One might be able to find out with a call, email, or paper letter to a local Chinese consulate.

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    $\begingroup$ I thought that US licensees could operate in Europe under CEPT? $\endgroup$ – Scott Earle Sep 19 at 3:50
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    $\begingroup$ @ScottEarle They can, but you need a prior-issued certificate (as I recall) to operate under CEPT. It's not just "carry a printed copy of your license". No hoops to jump through, but you have to actually go to the right web site and print the certificate. $\endgroup$ – Zeiss Ikon Sep 19 at 11:13
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    $\begingroup$ According to arrl.org/cept the US amateur just prints out the rules, and takes with them their US licence and passport. So yes it is "just carry a printed copy of your licence. And this other document. And your passport, which you have with you anyway" $\endgroup$ – Scott Earle Sep 20 at 7:13
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The answer to this question is very simple.

No.

Unless a special arrangement has been made, Amateur licenses are generally valid only for operation in the country that the license was issued in.

You can't use a USA issued ham license in China.

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    $\begingroup$ You can, with a reciprocal permit. Most countries (with a few notable exceptions) allow foreign operators to get a reciprocal permit. But (relevant to this question) a Chinese national cannot get a US licence then go back home to China and operate as if they were a visitor $\endgroup$ – Scott Earle Sep 20 at 7:10
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As long they have a valid mailing address and are not representing a foreign government they can take the test, and if the pass get a US license and operate in the USA. There is a agreement with China for "visitors" to China to use their US license after approval, but I don't believe that would let a Chinese national or citizen to do so.

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