How to Lookup Ham Radio Call Signs – Try It Now!

Rick Brandt Written By:
Rick Brandt
Andy Klugman Fact Checked By:
Andy Klugman
How to Lookup Ham Radio Call Signs

If you just obtained your ham radio license, you’re likely wondering how to lookup ham radio call signs, right? Well, it’s not a hard nut to crack, but as a beginner, I know it can be tricky, but I am here to help you.

I, however, want to believe that you’ve successfully done the test and the paperwork forwarded to the VEC, and now want to know how to look up the callsigns, right?

Firstly, you can choose a callsign for your ham radio by considering the group they’re in out of the four available, which is determined by the class of the authorized license. It’s easy to determine a (2 by 3) callsign as it has an area code followed by a suffix (3 letters).

You get to know the number of suffix and prefix letters based on the group (more on this later). It takes FCC about 18 days to complete vanity callsigns application processing.

Read further for more details.

The Format Of Ham Radio Call Sign

A sequential call sign system is used to assign callsigns sequentially. The three parts of a call sign include a letter (prefix), which is followed by a second letter, and then a number. This is why they’re often known as ‘2×3’ or ‘2-by-3’ call signs.

Normally, a call sign consists of one letter, for example, N, W, and K. This is called a prefix. Otherwise, it could have a prefix with two letters; NA-NZ, AA-AL, WA-WZ, and KA-KZ. A call sign also has a suffix, and could be one letter, two, or three, and is separated by a numeral that starts from 0 to 9. It’s the numeral that shows your geographical location.

The image below shows an example of a ‘2×3,’ if you like, ‘2-by-3’ call sign.

Format Of Ham Radio Call Sign


How to Lookup Ham Radio Call Signs

You can search the radio call signs from online licensee information databases. However, it’s safer to look up the (Federal Communications Commission) FCC as it’s the only trustworthy one. The FCC database is called Universal Licensing System (ULS).

As a licensee, you get a Federal Registration Number, abbreviated as FRN. FCC uses the number as your identification.

Procedures to lookup ham radio call signs

Procedures to lookup ham radio call signs

Once the page loads, scroll down and click on ‘Amateur.’

Step 1: lookup ham radio call signs


Upon clicking it, Amateur License Search will load. Enter your name (your last name) and zip code. Undoubtedly, so many people also have the same last name as you. So, there may be a couple of them on the search results living within the same zip code as you.

Step 2: lookup ham radio call signs


Next, click the search button on the bottom right-hand side.

Step 3: lookup ham radio call signs


You may have to wait a few seconds before the page loads for the results to appear. Here are the results for the above search.

Step 4: lookup ham radio call signs


Search the available ham radio call signs on the results page.

Sometimes the results may take up an entire page, making it difficult to see the callsigns. In this case, click the ‘Query Download’ link to compile the results into a single text file.

Please note that submission of your application identifies you as a licensed ham. It also gives details of where the station is located physically and permanently.

Unlike your personal information, which is protected through a password, information such as callsigns, FRN, and who has a ham radio license is available to the public when they search it.

There are many ways of looking up the database; for example, you could search by county and state using other databases, like,

Below, I’ll explain how to do that. Keep reading.

Ham Radio Call Sign Lookup By County

On the database, click the arrow beside ‘Type’ to see the options available.

Ham Radio Call Sign Lookup By County

Choose ‘By county’ from the list, type your county on the ‘Lookup’ search option, and click the ‘search’ option to load results.

Please note that you must be logged in to see the results.

Ham Radio Call Signs Lookup By State

Go to the Universal Licencing System.

After scrolling, you’ll see the ‘license search,’ click it so that the page can load.

Next, click on ‘Amateur.’ You have to scroll down to see it.

On the licensee section, look up the radio call signs by state. To do this, type the name of your state.

Ham Radio Call Signs Lookup By State

You can use the drop-down arrow to choose the name of your state. Next, click on ‘Search’ to see the results.

Vanity Call Signs: What Are They?

The CC selects the vanity call sign from the available list of call signs that the licensee trustee or the station licensee requests.

If available, you have the privilege of choosing the call sign from the call sign program. Your new call should be a 2 by 3 (as discussed above). Nevertheless, call signs can have unique structures. Of course, except for the Extra Class Licensee, who can request call signs from their preferred groups.

Which groups are these?

Group A: The call signs in this group are only usable by the Amateur Extra Class. These call signs are easier to remember. Why? They are shorter. Consequently, they’re also easy to send and receive.

You identify them easily by their structure, which is 2-by-1 and 1-by-2. A good example of these call signs is AB0X and W1AW. 2-by-2 call signs start with A.

Group B: Initially, the call signs in this group were assigned amateurs after they had successfully passed their Advanced class exam. These callsigns start with W, K, or N, and they’re 2-by-2. An example of this group call sign is KB6NU.

Group C: The call signs are 1-by-3 and are assigned amateurs in technicians plus, general, and technician classes. They start with W, K, or N. W8ABC is an example of a group call sign.

Group D: The call signs in this category start with W or K. These 2-by-3 call signs are assigned club, military recreation station, and novice. If you’re a new licensee in the Technician class, this is the callsign you’ll get.

What To Do If You Cannot Find Your Callsign

If you don’t see the call sign, you shouldn’t fret if it’s barely a week after completing the test and submitting the paperwork to the VEC. Better still, wait at least two weeks. This rarely happens, but that’s not to mean it’s impossible.

So, if you still cannot find it, here are two things to do:

  • Get in touch with the exam session leader and inquire if VEC has approved your paperwork. If so, was it forwarded to the FCC? If all went as planned, the FCC could have taken longer to accept the results. Wait a little longer.
  • If paperwork approval was successful, but you still can’t find the sign call ten days later, contact the session leader. Ask him to inquire about the paperwork since the VEC has the ability to trace the applications submitted to the FCC.

Parting Line

How to lookup ham radio call signs has always been easy! A little help is all you need. So, head to the ULS site and scroll down to the ‘License search’ option.

Load the page by clicking on it and clicking on the ‘Amateur’ option. Head to the ‘licensee’ section and search the call sign by state, city, or any other method, and then click on search to see results.

I hope this help.

5/5 - (4 votes)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *