As soon as I got my Amateur Radio Extra Class License, I started my search for my very own vanity call sign! There are a few easy steps to get your own vanity call sign. You can pay someone else $40+ to apply for it… or you can do it yourself for $21 on the internet!
You will have to determine what combination of prefix, call area, and suffix you might want, or what will fit your specific letters into it. I wanted to have “WV” somewhere in my call to represent the state of West Virginia (you can use your initials, etc.)… prefix or suffix. I needed an “8” for my call area… but that is no longer mandatory. As for a prefix, I wanted to be a little different than the standard K, N, A or W so that it would stand out during a contest and sound neat. Something that sounded cool when announced phonetically and that wasn’t too difficult to send with Morse Code. So I focused on a prefix combination starting with an A or W.
All the 1 X 2 call signs with a “WV” were already taken… N8WV, K8WV, W8WV, A8WV.
So I decided I would use a 2 X 2 call sign. I wrote down some possibilities that I thought would be cool… WT8WV, AF8WV, etc. I had about 8 different ones to check out on the RadioQTH webite… just type it in and hit enter! Is it available? If so, write it down in a list of call signs available to submit to the FCC! (More on this in a minute.) First, go to this website http://www.radioqth.net/lookup and search to see if the vanity call sign you would like to have is available. You will simply type in the call sign and it will tell you if someone else already owns it, or not.
You can also use the QRZ website… http://www.qrz.com/
You can also use the FCC ULS look up… http://wireless2.fcc.gov/UlsApp/UlsSearch/searchLicense.jsp
Now… once you have a list of call signs you can live with… you will need to put them in the order of your preferences, so they can be added to the FCC Form you will use to apply.
You will need your FCC issued FRN number off of your current Amateur Radio license to apply. If you don’t have your FRN handy, just search for your existing call sign and it will be displayed in the form. Copy it to your clipboard or write it down.
Go to this FCC web page and READ the directions. http://wireless.fcc.gov/services/index.htm?job=cft&id=amateur&page=cft_get_call_sign
It’s not hard and after reading the instructions you will go to this new web page to pay for and apply for the vanity call sign online. You will need to register… http://wireless.fcc.gov/uls/index.htm?job=home
Once you register you will arrange to pay the FCC their money, fill out their form, add your list of preferred vanity call signs, finish the form and submit it. You can check back daily to see if it has been issued. It will be in a PENDING status while the FCC does their own search. In about 18 days (Yes, I looked this up on the internet to see how long it takes… mine took… wait for it… 18 days.), you will know which of your preferred call signs has been assigned to you. If you did your call sign search well, you will probably get your first preference! You just saved yourself at least $20 by doing it yourself.