I’ve been on the fence about switching my current FCC Call Letters to a vanity call sign. Up until recently I just couldn’t justify spending the money. I had thought about it several times in the past. I knew the exact call sign that I wanted and would periodically check on it to be sure that no one else had taken it.
Way back (in the last century) on the day that I took my first exam, my exam administrator pointed out that my 6 letter last name could actually be converted to a call sign and that fact has stuck in the back of my mind since. At that time, the call sign he was referring to was in use. The ham that was using it passed away in 1998 and the call letters became available in the 2000. A recent trip to visit my out-of-state grandkids influenced me to take the plunge and grab that call sign. The FCC will hold a call sign for two years after the assignee passes away and a little part of me feels that, out of all our grandkids, at least one of them may become interested enough in radio to get their Amateur license.
The procedure is simple enough and can be taken care of with a visit to the FCC website. Using their ULS (Universal Licensing System) website, you can search out as many call signs as you’d like. You’ll need to make sure that the call letters you are asking for fit into the format that they require which is usually a 2 letter prefix, a number, and a three letter prefix.
If you’re fortunate enough to find that your selection is not being used you can then submit an application to modify your current license. If you don’t have an FRN number, you’ll have to get one before you proceed. You will be asked to enter the vanity call signs into the application form, you can enter as many as you like. In my case, I only wanted one and if I couldn’t get it than I would just stay with my original call.
The FCC won’t issue a vanity call unless the application fee has been paid so I paid with a debit card right there on the website as soon as the application was submitted. The FCC provided printable receipts for the payment and the application but my receipts did not show the actual call sign I was requesting so if you are thinking about applying be sure to print your call sign requests if you have more than one. The whole application and payment process took about ten minutes.
I submitted the app on a Saturday so the following Monday, December 2nd, I logged into my FCC ULS account and clicked the “My Applications” link on my account page. It showed that the application had been received and was “Pending”. Under the “Reason” column there was an MD… I was worried about what that meant so I checked into it and the MD just meant that I was requesting a MoDification to my license so it was nothing to worry about.
I had read on multiple websites that it takes the FCC 18 days to finalize the request. I checked my ULS account every other day and guess what… on December 20th I had the new call sign! So it did in fact take exactly 18 days from the time the FCC accepts the application until your call sign is modified. I don’t know why it took eighteen days, maybe someday the FCC will post that info on the website.
It took a couple days to get used to the new call letters. I caught myself starting to announce the old call letters a couple times. Anyway, I’m glad that I switched. It cost $16.00 to get a real nice call sign that will be handed down if I’m lucky.