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Getting Started

Getting Started in Amateur Radio

What is amateur radio?

Amateur radio is a hobby that enables participants to experiment with and learn about radio and to communicate with other radio amateurs around the world. By international agreement, amateur radio is exclusively non-commercial. This same agreement also says that each country must ensure that its radio amateurs are operationally and technically competent.

How do I become a radio amateur?

A person who wishes to operate as a radio amateur in the UK or Crown Dependencies (Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man) must hold a Licence issued by Ofcom or qualify under the international arrangements. Ofcom issues three levels of Amateur Radio Licences – Foundation, Intermediate and Full. The licences grant additional privileges (for example greater power, more frequencies or operating farther afield) as the radio amateur progresses. To qualify for each Licence, applicants must pass an examination at the corresponding level, to demonstrate that they have the skills to use amateur radio at that level. The examinations are administered by the Radio Society of Great Britain (‘RSGB’), the principal representative body for radio amateurs in the UK.

Each level of examination builds on the last. To sit the intermediate-level examination, a candidate must first pass the Foundation examination. To sit the Full-level examination, the candidate must first pass the Foundation and Intermediate examinations.

However, there is no requirement for radio amateurs to hold each class of licence as they progress, as long as they pass the examinations. This means that a candidate who passes all three examinations at once (which some candidates do) may apply immediately for a Full Licence; there would be no need to apply for a Foundation and/or Intermediate Licence first.

Arrangements for foreign radio amateurs see.

How hard are the examinations?

The Foundation examination is multiple choice and tests the candidate’s knowledge of basic technology and the terms and conditions of the UK Amateur Radio Licence. This aims to ensure that anyone using amateur radio knows what is and is not permitted, so reducing the risk of the station causing interference to other users of radio.

The Intermediate examination builds on this. It is in two parts. The first is a practical assessment, which includes basic practical electronics (for example soldering a simple circuit), followed by a multiple-choice paper. Note: Due to the Coronavirus Pandemic the Practical Element has been dropped for the present time

Finally, the Full examination is a demanding multiple-choice test of radio and electronics theory.

When a candidate passes one of the amateur radio examinations, the RSGB issues a Candidate Number, which denotes the level of the exam that the candidate has passed. The successful candidate may then quote that candidate number, when applying for a licence at that level from Ofcom, via the licensing portal

The Ofcom portal includes instructions on how to register to use it, if an applicant is not already registered.

How do I study for and sit the examinations?

The Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB) is the principal representative body for radio amateurs in the UK. They administer amateur radio examinations and have published guidance for students ( It includes an interactive map to help find where the various courses are given and to locate the nearest examination centre.

Due to the Coronavirus Pandemic all exams are done on line and remotely invigilated.

 I used to be a licensed radio amateur but left the hobby. How do I reapply?

A radio amateur who passed an examination some years ago but surrendered their licence or allowed it to lapse may reapply for the same level of licence, without the need to take a fresh examination. Ofcom must be satisfied that the applicant has passed the examination at the level of the licence being applied for. This can be demonstrated by including a copy of an old examination pass certificate or an old licence. A radio amateur who held both the Class A and Class B licences before 2003 may apply for only one Amateur Radio (Full) licence today.

Cockenzie & Port Seton Amateur Radio Club (CPSARC) Training

At CPSARC we offer all three levels of training – Foundation, Intermediate and Full. Details of courses can be found on the website under the Training Tab. They are normally run over the Autumn/Winter period in the local Port Seton Resource (Community) Centre.
Our normal pattern is a Foundation Course followed by an Intermediate Course then another Foundation Course followed by an Intermediate Course and finally ending up with the Full Licence Course.

Due to the Coronavirus Pandemic the Training Program is not following this pattern due to the unavailability of the Resource (community) Centre plus unavailability to obtain paper exams from the RSGB.
To that end training is being done using ZOOM Meetings basically by working around what can be planned. If interested in any training courses contact me via the following methods and suitable arrangements will be made.

See our Training pages for more information

Tel:     01875 811723

Regarding the examination process, the Trainee Candidate must log onto the RSGB website and book a date and pay for exam

Full details of registration and remotely invigilated online exams can be found on the RSGB Website.

RSGB remotely invigilated exams FAQs

RSGB remotely invigilated exams Candidate instructions