Getting my old 2 by 3 call sign back

Discussion in 'Becoming a Ham - Q&A' started by M0AGP, Jun 15, 2021.

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  1. M0AGP

    M0AGP Ham Member QRZ Page

    I was WB9WFJ from about 1975 and after moving to the UK later, I assumed I had to stop renewing the US license when I didn’t live in the US, so the license lapsed. Coming back to ham radio in the UK, I now see many non-US hams with US call signs after they took US exams.

    I am also aware that hams can request call signs they used to have - but is this maybe only true for hams residing in the US?

    So my question is this: if I were to pass the Extra class exam out here in the UK, could I get my old 2 by 3 US call sign (WB9WFJ) back?

    A related question: as this must be a pretty unusual case, is there a contact email address where I can ask about this? I didn’t find anything apart from super high-level, general question type phone numbers - you can imagine getting mis-directed all over the place starting from there…
    KO4ESA likes this.
  2. K7MEM

    K7MEM Ham Member QRZ Page

    I don't see a problem here. You might also have to pass the Tech and General class exams. I'm not sure how the remote testing works. But if you pass the US Extra class exam, you are pretty much entitled to any call sign that is available. The FCC only requires that you supply a address, and now maybe a e-mail address, where they can get in touch with you. They try not to use snail mail any more.

    Most US hams are looking for 1x2, 2x1, and maybe 2x2 call signs. Your old 2x3 call sign doesn't look like something that hams are seeking. You should have no problem getting it back.

    I applied for my call sign back when they were getting ready to drop the Morse code requirements. I could see it coming and realized that I better apply for a call that I liked, before there was a deluge of new Extras. I looked at all the 1x2 and 2x1 but didn't like them. So I picked the 1x3 I have now. I have even relocated from Zone 7 to Zone 8, but have no intention of changing my callsign.

    You might want to check with KB1WSY on Eham. He is moving back to England and is up on the subject. He is resurrecting a 30 year old British license that he had, but then allowing his US license to expire.
    KO4ESA and M0AGP like this.
  3. M0AGP

    M0AGP Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks for the info. I read that extras can get 2 by 3 calls if the form Kx#xxx but not Wx#xxx. That is, 2 by 3 calls starting with K are available but not starting with W.

    I wonder if there is a way to get definitive info on this? I would only be getting a US call to get my old one back, but if it isn’t actually possible I wouldn’t put in the time and effort.
    KO4ESA likes this.
  4. KU4X

    KU4X Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Hi Michael,

    Yes, you can apply for your old call sign via the vanity program once you have a current US license.
    If you can show proof of your previously-held General license, you will only need to take the Technician exam. You will need to check with the exam team to see what proof is acceptable to them. If you desire the Amateur Extra license, you will have to sit the exam for that.
    You will also need to provide your FRN (available via lookup on the FCC if you don't have it in-hand), a valid United States mailing address where you can receive mail (in case the FCC decides to contact you that way) and a valid email address. This holds true even for those living outside the United States of America.

    Once you have passed your exam(s) you will be issued a sequential call sign, based on the mailing address you provide on your license application.
    If you get credit for your previous General license, you will be issued a 2x3 call starting with 'K'.
    If you get credit for your previous General license and pass the Amateur Extra exam in the same sitting, you will be issued a 2x2 call starting with 'A(*)'
    (With some exceptions; the '4' US call district is issuing 2x2 'K' calls...the 'A(*)' calls ran out some time ago.)
    Using today's info and your old Arizona address as an example, for a General license you would be issued KJ7ZHD; for an Amateur Extra license you would be issued AI7HX. (Info courtesy of AE7Q:

    Once you have your US license in-hand, you may apply for your old call via the vanity program.
    Referencing your later post, I think you were just slightly confused about the availability of call signs, re: the 'K' call sign vs. the 'W' call sign.
    The 'K' 2x3 (Group D) call signs are the ones being sequentially issued to newly licensed Technician and General license holders. The 'W' 2x3 call signs are no longer being sequential issued, but are availability for vanity issue.


    Re: contacting the FCC: this is pretty dicey right now, as they are not back up to full staffing due to Covid-19. Contacts are listed in the resources above; just be prepared to expend a lot of patience.

    Good luck!

    KO4ESA and M0AGP like this.
  5. M0AGP

    M0AGP Ham Member QRZ Page

    Bruce thank you so much for your help and for the references! Very much appreciated!
    KO4ESA likes this.
  6. WI9LL

    WI9LL XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    As far as availability, you have a lock on the callsign for 2 years after you drop it where no one can take it unless you pass and a family member assumes it I believe. After that it's mostly a matter of whether or not it's been taken or systematically re-assigned. The latter is not very likely, and the former is not very likely unless it was someone's initials or something. Even then they typically try for a 1x3. Good Luck getting it back, you shouldn't have much of an issue.
    KO4ESA and M0AGP like this.
  7. KO4ESA

    KO4ESA Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hopefully you pass the test and get the callsign you want.
    M0AGP likes this.

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