German Ham License under SOFA

If you are a licensed American Ham, then you can use your ham license throughout Europe, and specifically Deutschland, under the CEPT agreement. This works out to be fine for most folks, as they are simply traveling through a country and not staying for extended periods (up to three months).

However, if you are an American who is working for the US Government (possibly as a civilian, a contractor, or you are simply just a dependent) in Deutschland, then you are probably in-country for an extended period (greater than three months). You probably also have SOFA status.

For those who don’t know what SOFA is, it is simply a “Status Of Forces Agreement” between the US and Germany. It allows US personnel the ability to enter/exit the host nation and exempts them from having to register with the local authorities. The US has these types of agreements with many different countries.

Super exciting, right? Well, the good of that is since you are now living in Deutschland and have your SOFA status, you can request for yourself an actual German amateur radio guest license. Now that is cool!!! To make the most of this privledge, you will probably want to work towards elevating your US Ham license to the Amateur Extra level, so you can be unrestricted on their airwaves.

Okay, okay, well I’ve blabbed on about this. So how do you apply for and get your license?

As of the end of January 2024, here’s what you need to do…

  1. Obtain your FCC Ham License.
    • Honestly, aim for your Extra class ticket. Even if it takes a little longer as you work towards it, in the end, it’ll be worth it. You will have a better experience when you have what Germany calls their class ‘A’ license and you are not having to memorize band plan allocations.
  2. Read and understand the German Amateur Radio Service Regulations.
    These regulations are conveniently available from the Bundesnetzagentur or the Deutscher Amateur Radio Club (DARC) website.
  3. Complete the reciprocal German amateur radio guest license application.
    • It is important to use both, your military mailing address (APO) and your local German mailing address on the application form. The German authorities will only send your new license to your German mailing address.
  4. Make sure that your application has all of the following supporting documents. Failure to include everything will cause delays.
    □ 1) signed original reciprocal German amateur radio license SOFA application.
    □ 2) photocopy of your valid FCC amateur radio license.
    □ 3) photocopy of the SOFA card placed inside your passport.
    □ 4) photocopy of your official military or Government orders or another official document that clearly shows that you are stationed or working in Germany.
    □ 5) photocopy of the front side of your military ID card. The date on your ID card is used to determine how long to initially issue your license.
  5. After you have completed all of the above you are ready to submit your packet. Send the completed application and all of your supporting documents via mail or email to:

    Bundesnetzagentur Außenstelle Dortmund
    Alter Hellweg 56
    D-44379 Dortmund
    Germany

    E-Mail: Dort10-Postfach@BNetzA.de
    Tel: +49 (0)231-9955-260
  6. The Bundesnetzagentur will notify you of any license fees due. If you wish to follow-up on the status of your application you can contact the Bundesnetzagentur via email or phone.
    • For SA, the current fee at the time of me writing this is €70,00.
    • The German license will typically be valid until the expiration date on your military ID.
    • You will need to resubmit your application and repay your fee to renew your German license.

I hope this helps any American Hams stationed in Germany to get their reciprocal guest license and stay on the air while in Germany. -73

Reference: https://www.arrl.org/sofa-agreement; https://www.darc.de/der-club/referate/ausland/english-version

CEPT Agreement

Do you have your US ham license? If you answered “yes” then you can operate in places all over Europe…

Okay, that was a dramatic oversimplification, but it is true. European countries allow American ham radio operators to operate within their borders through reciprocity.

The CEPT is the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations, and it consists of 46 member countries. The CEPT agreement is a way for people who like to use radios to talk to each other across different countries without having to get a new license every time they travel. A license is permission from the government to use a radio. Normally, each country has its own rules and tests for giving licenses to radio users. However, with the CEPT agreement, some countries decided to accept each other’s licenses and make it easier for radio users to visit and communicate with each other. The CEPT agreement also helps radio users to learn new skills, share information, and help in emergencies.

To operate a ham radio under CEPT, you need to meet the following requirements:

  • You must have a valid amateur radio license from your home country that grants you CEPT privileges.
    • In the U.S., this means you must have an Advanced or Extra class license or a General class license with some limitations2.
  • You must carry and provide upon request your passport, your original FCC license document, and a copy of the FCC Public Notice DA 16-10483.
    • This notice serves as your CEPT license and contains information in English, French, and German.
  • You must follow the regulations and operating conditions of the host country, such as frequency bands, power limits, and station identification.
    • You must use the prefix of the host country followed by a slash and your home call sign, for example EA8/KH9ABC in Spain.