In the US, just after passing your exam for Technician, General and/or Extra if you didn't have a call sign to begin with, can you request a vanity one right away or do you have to wait until one is assigned and then change it?


You will have to be assigned a call sign first. To apply for a vanity, you will need an FCC Registration Number (FRN). The rule is that you cannot receive a vanity call sign from a call sign group for which your operator class is not eligible. For example, if you are operator class T (technician), you can only receive call signs from groups C & D. If you request a call sign from groups A or B, your application will be dismissed by the Commission. So, technically you must be licensed with a call sign first. The process is not instantaneous. It takes 18 days.

  • $\begingroup$ I need the FRN just to take an exam. Also, I'm trying to get the highest possible level I can on one sitting, hence, I could go from nothing to general or extra. But it's OK, I'll wait for the call sign and then request a different one. $\endgroup$ – pupeno - M0ONP ACI1DM LU5ARC Oct 14 '17 at 15:31
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    $\begingroup$ Whoops, my bad. I forgot you can get the FRN before exam date. Yeah, you'll have to wait because of the length of the process. They won't know that you passed immediately after you take the exam. Good luck! $\endgroup$ – Macuser Oct 14 '17 at 16:47

There is no requirement that you have a call sign to apply for a new one. The requirement is that you are of sufficient class to hold the call sign you apply for when the vanity application is processed.

It takes 18 days to process a vanity application and around 10 days to process a new license after you pass your test.

So yes, you can apply for your vanity call sign as soon as you know what license class you qualified for. As long as your license is processed in a timely fashion, you will have your license and original call sign by the time your vanity application is processed.

  • $\begingroup$ Why the down vote? What is wrong with my answer? $\endgroup$ – Lance Oct 15 '17 at 14:04
  • $\begingroup$ Could SOMEONE please explain what's wrong with my answer? $\endgroup$ – Lance Oct 16 '17 at 2:32
  • $\begingroup$ I don't know (and I didn't downvote it), but it would help if you added a link to back up your statement that "There is no requirement that you have a call sign to apply for a new one." $\endgroup$ – Mike Waters Oct 16 '17 at 2:50
  • $\begingroup$ @MikeWaters How can you prove a negative? If you follow the application process, there is no place in that process where an existing call sign is asked for. All you need is an FRN to apply. Also remember the timeline. By the time the vanity application is processed, the applicant WILL have a call sign already. The requirement is that the applicant have the appropriate privileges. $\endgroup$ – Lance Oct 16 '17 at 5:06
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    $\begingroup$ 97.19(a) states "The person named in an operator/primary station license grant or in a club station license grant is eligible to make application for modification of the license grant, or the renewal thereof, to show a call sign selected by the vanity call sign system." After OP has passed the exam elements, he doesn't have a license grant until he shows up in the FCC database and is issued a call sign. If you haven't got a call sign, you're not yet eligible to apply for a vanity call because there's no license grant to modify yet. That's my interpretation of the regulation anyway. $\endgroup$ – imabug Oct 16 '17 at 13:10

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