23 June 2023

Making amateur radio licences fit for the future

Ofcom has today proposed changes to amateur radio licences and policies to make sure our regulations meet the needs of current and future amateur radio users.

Amateur radio, sometimes known as ham radio, has been an important part of wireless communications for over a century. Every amateur radio user in the UK needs a licence from Ofcom, and there are more than 101,000 amateur radio licences on issue in the UK currently.

Ofcom’s changes are designed to provide radio amateurs with greater operating freedoms to reflect how the hobby has evolved. At the same time, we are seeking to make getting and using a licence simpler, as part of a broader effort by Ofcom to streamline, standardise and where possible further automate elements of our licensing work.

More than


amateur radio licences are on issue in the UK currently

To enable radio amateurs to undertake a wider range of activities we are proposing that in most frequency bands we would increase the maximum power that radio amateurs are allowed to use. We are also proposing to allow some low power airborne use and permit the operation of beacons, gateway and repeater equipment under the licence, without a specific licence variation being required.

Ofcom will maintain the current three tier lifetime licence approach but look to improve the process for revalidating licences online, which is currently required every five years.

With each licence we assign each user a unique identity, known as a call sign, which radio amateurs use in their activities. We have set out a number of changes to modernise and streamline our call signs policy.

For example, we will make it simpler for the amateur radio community to use special event call signs and allow licensees to change their call sign. We are also proposing that individual licensees should only hold a single personal licence and call sign at any one time, to ensure that the unique identity of a station is maintained.

Ofcom’s consultation is open until 4 September 2023. We will consider responses before publishing our decisions.

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