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.

Ham Radio Modes

There are many different modes that amateur radio operators, or “hams,” can use to communicate with each other. Here are a few examples of modern ham radio modes:

  1. Voice: This is the most common mode, and it involves using a microphone and radio to transmit and receive audio messages. Ham radio operators can use voice mode to communicate with other hams around the world, or simply to chat with friends in their local area.
  2. Digital: Digital modes allow hams to transmit and receive text and other data using their radios. Popular digital modes include RTTY (radioteletype), PSK (phase-shift keying), and JT65 (a type of digital voice mode). Digital modes are often used for long-distance communication, and they can be more efficient and easier to use than voice mode.
  3. Satellite: Hams can use their radios to communicate via satellite using specialized equipment. This can allow them to communicate with other hams around the world, even if they are in remote or inaccessible locations.
  4. High-frequency (HF): HF bands are radio frequencies that are used for long-distance communication. Hams can use HF bands to communicate with other hams around the world, even if they are thousands of miles apart.
  5. Low-frequency (LF): LF bands are radio frequencies that are used for very long-distance communication, often across continents or even around the globe. Hams can use LF bands to communicate with other hams around the world, although these frequencies can be more challenging to work with due to atmospheric conditions and other factors.

There are many other ham radio modes and techniques, and hams are always exploring and developing new ways to use their radios. Whether you are just starting out in amateur radio or you are an experienced operator, there is always something new to learn and explore in this exciting hobby.

Over the past few decades, there has been a significant evolution in the use of digital modes in amateur radio, also known as ham radio.

Voice Mode

Voice mode has been an important part of amateur radio, also known as ham radio, since the earliest days of the hobby. In voice mode, ham radio operators use a microphone and radio to transmit and receive audio messages with each other.

In the early days of ham radio, voice mode was the only way for hams to communicate with each other, and it remains a popular and important mode to this day. However, the evolution of technology has led to the development of many other modes, such as digital modes, which allow hams to transmit and receive text, data, and other types of information using their radios.

Despite the growth of other modes, voice mode remains an important part of amateur radio and is still widely used by hams around the world. Voice mode is often preferred for casual conversations and for making contact with other hams, particularly when working with less experienced operators or in emergency situations.

As technology continues to evolve, it is likely that voice mode will continue to play a vital role in amateur radio, and hams will continue to use it to communicate with each other in a variety of situations.

Digital Mode

In the early days of ham radio, most communication was done using voice mode, which involved using a microphone and radio to transmit and receive audio messages. While voice mode is still very popular, the development of digital modes has allowed hams to transmit and receive text, data, and other types of information using their radios.

One of the main advantages of digital modes is that they are often more efficient and easier to use than voice mode, particularly for long-distance communication. Digital modes also allow hams to transmit and receive information using computer software, which can make it easier to share and organize messages and data.

Here are a few of the digital modes that have been gaining in popularity amongst radio operators.

  1. FT8: This is a digital mode developed by Joe Taylor, K1JT, that is designed for fast and efficient communication over long distances. FT8 has become very popular in recent years, and it is widely used by hams around the world.
  2. WSPR: This is a digital mode developed by Joe Taylor, K1JT, that is designed for low-power communication over long distances. WSPR is often used by hams to test propagation conditions and to make contact with other hams around the world.
  3. JT65: This is a digital voice mode developed by Joe Taylor, K1JT, that is designed for efficient communication over long distances. JT65 is widely used by hams around the world, and it is particularly popular for making contact with other hams in distant locations.
  4. D-STAR: This is a digital voice and data mode developed by the Japan Amateur Radio League (JARL) that is used by hams around the world. D-STAR is popular for its high-quality audio and other advanced features, and it is often used for local and regional communication.
  5. DMR: This is a digital voice and data mode that is used by hams around the world. DMR is popular for its high-quality audio and other advanced features, and it is often used for local and regional communication.

These modes are used by hams around the world to communicate with each other, and they have helped to make amateur radio a more accessible and convenient hobby for many people.

As technology continues to evolve, it is likely that digital modes will continue to play an important role in amateur radio, and hams will continue to develop and use new and innovative ways to communicate with each other.

Satellite Mode

Satellite communication has played an important role in the evolution of amateur radio, also known as ham radio.

In the early days of ham radio, most communication was done using voice mode, which involved using a microphone and radio to transmit and receive audio messages. While voice mode is still very popular, the development of satellite communication has allowed hams to communicate with each other from virtually anywhere on the planet.

To use satellite mode, hams need specialized equipment and antennas that are capable of sending and receiving signals from satellites in orbit around the Earth. Many amateur radio satellites have been launched over the years, and they provide a convenient way for hams to communicate with each other, even if they are in remote or inaccessible locations.

In addition to providing long-distance communication, satellite mode has also helped to make amateur radio more accessible and convenient for many people. With the right equipment, hams can use satellite mode to communicate with each other from almost anywhere, even if they are traveling or on the go.

As technology continues to evolve, it is likely that satellite mode will continue to play an important role in amateur radio, and hams will continue to develop and use new and innovative ways to communicate with each other via satellite.

HF mode

High-frequency (HF) mode has played an important role in the evolution of amateur radio, also known as ham radio. HF bands are radio frequencies that are used for long-distance communication, and they are often preferred by hams for making contact with other operators around the world.

In the early days of ham radio, most communication was done using voice mode, which involved using a microphone and radio to transmit and receive audio messages. While voice mode is still very popular, the development of digital modes has allowed hams to transmit and receive text, data, and other types of information using their radios.

HF mode has also benefited from advances in technology, and hams can now use a variety of digital modes and techniques to communicate over HF bands. These modes are often more efficient and easier to use than voice mode, particularly for long-distance communication, and they have helped to make amateur radio more accessible and convenient for many people.

As technology continues to evolve, it is likely that HF mode will continue to play an important role in amateur radio, and hams will continue to develop and use new and innovative ways to communicate with each other over long distances.

LF Mode

Low-frequency (LF) mode has played a role in the evolution of amateur radio, also known as ham radio, although it is not as widely used as some of the other modes. LF bands are radio frequencies that are used for very long-distance communication, often across continents or even around the globe.

In the early days of ham radio, most communication was done using voice mode, which involved using a microphone and radio to transmit and receive audio messages. While voice mode is still very popular, the development of digital modes has allowed hams to transmit and receive text, data, and other types of information using their radios.

LF mode has also benefited from advances in technology, and hams can now use a variety of digital modes and techniques to communicate over LF bands. These modes are often more efficient and easier to use than voice mode, particularly for very long-distance communication, and they have helped to make amateur radio more accessible and convenient for many people.

However, LF bands can be more challenging to work with due to atmospheric conditions and other factors, and they are not as widely used as some of the other ham radio modes. Despite this, LF mode is still an important part of amateur radio, and hams continue to explore and develop new ways to use it to communicate with each other over long distances.

UHF, VHF, HF and LF

In amateur radio, also known as ham radio, UHF (ultra-high-frequency), VHF (very-high-frequency), HF (high-frequency), and LF (low-frequency) refer to different radio frequency bands that are used for communication.

UHF bands are radio frequencies that range from 300 MHz to 3 GHz, and they are often used for local or regional communication. UHF bands are popular among hams because they can provide good coverage over short to medium distances, and they are often less crowded than some of the other frequency bands.

VHF bands are radio frequencies that range from 30-300 MHz, and they are often used for local or regional communication. VHF bands are popular among hams because they can provide good coverage over short to medium distances, and they are often less crowded than some of the other frequency bands.

HF bands are radio frequencies that range from 3-30 MHz, and they are used for long-distance communication, often across continents or even around the globe. HF bands are popular among hams because they can be used to communicate with other hams around the world, and they can often be used to bypass local interference or other obstacles.

LF bands are radio frequencies that range from 30-300 kHz, and they are used for very long-distance communication, often across continents or even around the globe. LF bands are less commonly used than HF bands in ham radio, as they can be more challenging to work with due to atmospheric conditions and other factors. However, they can be useful for certain types of communication, such as during emergencies or when other modes are not available.

In general, hams use a variety of frequency bands and modes to communicate with each other, and the choice of frequency band and mode will depend on the specific needs and goals of the communication. Some hams may prefer to use UHF or VHF bands for local communication, while others may use HF (high-frequency) or LF (low-frequency) bands for long-distance communication.

What is Ham Radio?

Ham radio, also known as amateur radio, is a hobby that involves using radios to communicate with other people over short or long distances, without the use of the internet or commercial phone networks.

Ham radio operators, or “hams,” use a variety of equipment and frequencies to communicate, including voice, text, digital modes, and even images. Some hams use portable or mobile radios to communicate while on the go, while others set up permanent stations in their homes or other locations.

To become a ham radio operator, you will need to obtain a license from your country’s regulatory authority. This typically involves passing a written exam to demonstrate your understanding of radio theory, regulations, and operating procedures.

Once you have your license, you can start using ham radio to communicate with other hams around the world. You can participate in local or international ham radio clubs and organizations, or simply use your radio to chat with other hams in your area. Many hams also enjoy using their radios to assist with emergency communication efforts, such as during natural disasters or other emergencies.

Ham radio has a long and interesting history in the United States. The first amateur radio stations were established in the late 19th century, and the hobby has continued to grow and evolve over the years.

One of the early pioneers of amateur radio in the United States was Hiram Percy Maxim, who founded the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) in 1914. The ARRL is now the largest organization for amateur radio operators in the United States, and it serves as a clearinghouse for information, resources, and support for hams across the country.

During World War II, amateur radio operators played a vital role in providing communication support for the military, and many hams continue to provide emergency communication services during natural disasters and other emergencies.

In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, advances in technology have made it easier for amateur radio operators to communicate using digital modes and other techniques, and the hobby has continued to thrive and evolve. Today, there are over 750,000 licensed amateur radio operators in the United States, and the hobby is enjoyed by people of all ages and backgrounds. Ham radio can be a fun and rewarding hobby, and there are many resources available to help you get started, such as local ham radio clubs, online communities, and instructional videos.

Ham Radio Quick Links

ARRL Links http://www.arrl.org

Decibels (dB) Tuturial: Link
Frequency Band Charts: Band Chart: Link; Technician only Band Chart: Link

CHIRPhttps://chirp.danplanet.com/projects/chirp/wiki/Download

CHIRP is a piece of software used to program your baofeng (and similar) radios. It may not be the most user-intuitive, but once you figure out how to use it (hint: plenty of videos on YouTube) it makes programming all of your desired frequencies into your radio super easy.

EARCHIhttp://www.earchi.org/

A shout out to my local area’s club, the Emergency Amateur Radio Club – Hawaii (EARCHI).

EchoLinkhttps://secure.echolink.org/

This is a great way to connect with other Hams around the world. EchoLink is only available to licensed hams, and you have to verify your license before you are able to use it. It essentially a way to tie the analog radio world together with the digital computer world. You can use your smart phone or computer to connect directly to other hams or connect to digital repeaters (for lack of a better name) and participate in nets anywhere in the world.

Ham Studyhttps://hamstudy.org/

This is, IMHO, the best site for studying for your Ham radio exams. They provide a study mode and a random quiz mode that make it feel just like sitting the real exam. They include the entire question pool for all three classes of licenses. The website is well designed and modern. They have companion apps on iOS and Android that make it easy and convenient to study anywhere you go, no need to be connected to the internet. Best of all – It’s FREE!
I’m not sponsored for this endorsement, but the company behind this site (SignalStuff.com) does make and sell some great antennas for your handheld radio that are made in America and come with a lifetime guarantee.

Ham Academyhttp://www.hameducation.org/2020/

This is another site to help you with studying and taking practice exams. This site is entirely free and is run by EARC.

Radio Referencehttps://www.radioreference.com/

Look up frequencies in use by local government agencies and businesses in your area.

RepeaterBookhttps://repeaterbook.com/index.php

RepeaterBook is Amateur Radio’s most comprehensive, worldwide, FREE repeater directory. It also offers free iOS and Andriod apps for your smart phone too.


Stay tuned! More stuff to come….

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