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Idle curiosity:

Are the call signs of amateur radio operators distinct from call signs in all other radio services, such that there can be no ambiguity even if the relevant license and band(s) of operation is disregarded?

If they are not distinct internationally, are they distinct in the United States?


I'm interested primarily in overlap not the result of an administrative dispute, and between amateurs and a different radio service.

To be accepted, an answer should be complete, even if this means repeating what has already been said. Citations would be nice, too.

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  • $\begingroup$ Interesting question! I remember seeing some time back, here on this site, information about possible overlap between Fiji and Swaziland, which have different prefixes, but local administration made problems there. Also there are countries that do not issue call-signs according to amateur numeration and instead issue general callsigns to amateur radio operators. For example H2T has no number, since H2 is a prefix. There was another, even worse, example given to a DXpedition, but I can't find it now. $\endgroup$ – AndrejaKo Jul 1 '15 at 4:51
  • $\begingroup$ I'm interested primarily in overlap not the result of an administrative dispute, and between amateurs and a different radio service. $\endgroup$ – Kevin Reid AG6YO Jul 1 '15 at 5:19
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for clarification. There's this document from ITU. From my interpretation of it, usually it shouldn't happen that stations from different services get similar callsign format, but right now I don't have the time to analyze of completely for any possible overlaps. $\endgroup$ – AndrejaKo Jul 1 '15 at 5:26
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In most countries, they are unique. But in the United States, there is an overlap between Aircraft (which are assigned N-numbers based on the "International Radiotelegraph Convention" in Washington in 1927) and amateur radio callsigns. See Wikipedia article:

"There is a unique overlap in the United States with aircraft having a single number followed by two letters and radio call signs issued by the Federal Communications Commission to Amateur Radio operators holding the Amateur Extra class license. For example, N4YZ is, on the one hand, a Cessna 206 registered to a private individual in California, while N4YZ is also issued to an Amateur Radio operator in North Carolina."

So the answer is: almost, but not 100%.

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Yes. In the U.S., for example, you won't find a callsign in another service with the same formats as an amateur radio callsign. While I'm not 100% sure for other countries, I'd guess it was the same there as well.

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I believe that all Amatuer Radio call signs are unique to the service and are not issued for use with another licensed service.

Saying that, there is nothing stopping you naming a boat "M0LMK" and using it as a call sign on the marine bands (if you hold a licence) but it won't be an official call sign.

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Haven't looked lately, but some years ago I did find an exception to "... you won't find a callsign in another service with the same format as an amateur radio callsign...". At that time, and perhaps yet, stations experimenting with "weird" propagation modes or which were in some other way unconventional were given callsigns in the series KA6Xxx, where xx ran from AA through ZZ.

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