Radio Amateurs

This page provides information on the background for the Radio Amateur Services, the main CEPT deliverables for Radio amateurs as well on the current activities in Working Group Frequency Management's Radio Amateur Forum Group.

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1 Background and Definitions

The amateur radio service (amateur service and amateur-satellite service) is established by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) through the International Telecommunication Regulations. National governments regulate technical and operational characteristics of transmissions and issue individual stations licenses with an identifying call sign. Prospective amateur operators are tested for their understanding of key concepts in electronics and the host government's radio regulations. Radio amateurs use a variety of voice, text, image, and data communications modes and have access to frequency allocations throughout the RF spectrum to enable communication across a city, region, country, continent, the world, or even into space.

In the ITU Radio Regulations, Article 1.56, defines the amateur service as “A radiocommunication service for the purpose of self-training, intercommunication and technical investigations carried out by amateurs, that is, by duly authorized persons interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest”. The ITU Radio Regulations, Article 1.57, defines the amateur-satellite service as: “A radiocommunication service using space stations on earth satellites for the same purposes as those of the amateur service”. 
Certain minimum operator operational and technical qualifications are necessary for proper operation of an amateur or amateur-satellite station as specified by ITU Radio Regulations, Article 25.6, with basic syllabus provided by Recommendation ITU-R M.1544. Recommendation ITU-R M.1043 encourages administrations to facilitate the amateur and amateur satellite services to develop radio operator skills, exchange technical information and experiment with new technologies. ITU Radio Regulations, Article 25.9A, encourages administrations to take necessary steps to allow amateur stations to prepare for and meet communications needs in support of disaster relief. Recommendation ITU-R M.1042 encourages administrations to develop amateur and amateur-satellite service networks capable of providing radiocommunications in the event of natural disasters. Recommendation ITU-D 13 encourages administrations to reduce and remove barriers to the effective utilization of the amateur services for disaster communications and related training activities. Finally, Recommendation ITU-R M.1043 also encourages administrations to, where possible, alleviate or remove barriers to strengthen transborder cooperation between states in a way to facilitate the rapid deployment and effective use of telecommunication resources – including amateur service – supporting disaster relief operations. 

A significant number of about 400,000 radio amateurs are estimated to be located in CEPT countries. See numbers for CEPT (Survey numbers in 2010) here.

Amateur radio operators use various modes of transmission to communicate. The two most common modes for voice transmissions are frequency modulation (FM) and single sideband (SSB). FM offers high quality audio signals, while SSB is better at long distance communication when bandwidth is restricted. Modern personal computers have encouraged the use of digital modes. Fast scan amateur television has gained popularity as hobbyists adapt inexpensive consumer video electronics like camcorders and video cards in PCs. Linked repeater systems, however, can allow transmissions of VHF and higher frequencies across long ranges. Amateur radio satellites can be accessed, some using a hand-held transceiver, even, at times, using the factory "rubber duck" antenna. Hams also use the moon, the aurora borealis, and the ionized trails of meteors as reflectors of radio waves.

All countries that license citizens to use amateur radio require operators to display knowledge and understanding of key concepts, usually by passing an exam. In response, hams receive operating privileges in larger segments of the radio frequency spectrum using a wide variety of communication techniques with higher power levels permitted compared to unlicensed personal radio services such as CB radio or PMR446.

Amateur licensing is a routine civil administrative matter in many countries. Amateurs therein must pass an examination to demonstrate technical knowledge, operating competence and awareness of legal and regulatory requirements in order to avoid interference with other amateurs and other radio services. A series of exams are often available, each progressively more challenging and granting more privileges: greater frequency availability, higher power output, permitted experimentation, and in some countries, distinctive call signs.

There are three different amateur radio licence levels described in the CEPT: 

  1. The CEPT Recommendation T/R 61‑02 makes it possible for CEPT administrations to issue a Harmonised Amateur Radio Examination Certificate (HAREC). This Certificate shows proof of successfully passing an amateur radio examination that complies with the Examination Syllabus for HAREC. It facilitates the issuing of an individual licence to a radio amateur returning to his native country showing this document issued by a foreign CEPT Administration after passing an amateur radio examination in that foreign country.
  2. Due to the high level standard of the technical theory of the HAREC examination syllabus, ERC Report 32 describes a medium-level examination with a lower standard than required under the Harmonised Amateur Radio Examination Certificate (HAREC), suitable for the amateur radio novice class licence. A reason to establish this ERC Report on this topic has been the uncertainty of the establishing and/or the implementation of the novice class licence by several CEPT administrations.
  3. ECC Report 89 describes a third level, the ENTRY-CLASS, a lowest level of examination syllabus and its administration. 

2 Main ECC deliverables for Radio Amateurs

  • Recommendation T/R 61-01 CEPT Radio Amateur Licence
  • Recommendation T/R 61-02 Harmonised amateur radio examination certificates
  • ECC Recommendation (05)06 CEPT Novice Radio Amateur Licence
  • ERC Report 32 Amateur radio novice examination syllabus and amateur radio novice examination certificate within CEPT and non-CEPT countries
  • ECC Report 89 A radio amateur entry level examination and licence
  • ECC Recommendation (14)05 Amateur Radio Licence Examinations for Persons with Disabilities
  • ERC Report 25 The European Common Allocations Table provides information about radio service allocations for the radio amateur service and radio amateur-satellite service including notes, standards, etc. 


3 Current activities in the ECC on Radio Amateur Issues

  • The Radio Amateur Forum Group (RAFG) considers the radio amateur issues when they arise and be in direct contact with administrations inside and outside the CEPT with regard to radio amateur issues, in particular the CEPT Recommendations T/R 61-01 and T/R 61-02, ECC/REC/(05)06 and ERC Report 32 and other relevant CEPT Recommendations;
  • Subject to the endorsement by WGFM, develop Recommendations, Reports and views on radio amateur issues of importance to the radio amateur society;
  • Contribute, as appropriate, to the development of CEPT inputs to ITU-R Working Parties outside the scope of WRC preparations and in accordance with ECC working procedures;
  • Liaise with international organisations representing amateur radio service licensees on all relevant radio amateur matters.


In 2020 WGFM approved a questionnaire regarding proposals for harmonising electronic amateur licence and certification.  The 98th meeting of WGFM (February 2021) noted the positive questionnaire responses of the majority of respondents and agreed to move forward with a RA-FG proposal to scope out  a feasibility study in order to understand the detailed elements.  The WGFM Radio Amateur Forum Group were tasked with developing any possible Work Item to undertake this feasibility study.


4 Other activities in the ECC on Radio Amateur Issues


The revision of T/R 61-01 in 2016 was stimulated by an outstanding work item which was to finalise the harmonisation of ITU Region 2’s OAS/CITEL International Amateur Radio Permit with the CEPT Amateur Radio Licence. Unlike CEPT Recommendations, the IARP is a multilateral treaty between members of the Organization of American States requiring ratification. The IARP entered into force in June 1995. 11 States are party to the Treaty. In 2003 an additional Article was introduced in the IARP which indicated that on the basis of reciprocity amateur licensees from T/R 61-01 CEPT countries shall be entitled to the same rights and privileges as IARP holders provided that an IARP holder visiting a CEPT country would have the same rights as a visiting amateur utilising T/R 61-01 provisions. Only two OAS States have joined the 2003 protocol. Particular difficulties to achieve reciprocity between IARP and T/R 61-01 included:

    a) IARP difficult to amend as a treaty ratified by OAS governments,

    b)IARP Convention does not require explicit proof of equivalence with HAREC or equivalent,

    c)Changes in ITU regulatory framework since WRC-03 not incorporated into IARP,

    d)Individual OAS States responsible for the competence of their operators,

    e) Validity of IARP is 1 year,

    f) IARPs issued by contracting States IARU member societies against payment of an administrative charge.

It was concluded after a concentrated effort to discuss the above problems that the IARP Treaty inflexibility would remain a difficulty. However it was determined that a revision of T/R 61-01 would be attempted to incorporate one of the best features of the IARP, e.g. passing the responsibility for ensuring competency with HAREC requirements to a non CEPT administration wishing to join T/R 61-01 by requiring in future a Statement of Conformity from a non-CEPT administration seeking to join T/R 61-01. Once this had been achieved a natural progression was to make similar modifications to ECC Recommendation (05)06 concerning the CEPT Amateur Novice Licence.

WG FM decided then that subsequent to the process, ECO informed CITEL, other regional organisations and national regulatory authorities that CEPT considers that the work on attempting to harmonise the CEPT Amateur Licence (and Novice Licence) and the IARP had been concluded by permitting administrations outside CEPT to declare the conformity of their licensing regime with the requirements of T/R 61-02 (Last amended June 2020) and ERC Report 32 for the full and novice licence respectively.

In addition, ERC Report 32 was revised to be in line with T/R 61-01. ERC Report 32 deals with the syllabus for the CEPT Amateur Novice Licence.

The webpage of the Radio Amateur Forum Group (RAFG) of the Working Group Frequency Management can be found here.

Agenda Item 1.1 of the World Radio Conference 2019 considers an allocation of the frequency band 50-54 MHz to the amateur service in Region 1, in accordance with Resolution 658 (WRC-15). A secondary allocation of 50-52 MHz was made to the Radio Amateur service by WRC-19.


5 Additional information on Radio Amateur Issues

Information on Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) is available under FAQs.

CITEL Recommendation PCC.II/REC. 53 (XXVIII-16): Simplification of the administrative process for the Amateur and Amateur Satellite Service noting that the Inter-American Convention on the International Amateur Radio Permit (IARP) and CEPT Recommendation TR61/01 provide support for mutual recognition of amateur service licenses.

Two international radio amateur associations have partner status with the ECC:

International Amateur Radio Union Region 1

European Radio Amateurs' Organization (EURAO)


Updated: 08 February 2023, 10:23
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