CEPT: Using a US callsign in Germany?

Many thanks to Spencer (WD4AWD) who writes:

Hi Thomas,

[I] know you’ve operated abroad a number of times, in some cases with a country-specific call (UK, for example), but I was wondering if in your travels you have every operated or know someone who has with an American license in Germany.

I travel there for work occasionally and another trip is coming up in the next month or two and it has spurred me to study for my Extra license (I’m taking the exam remotely this Thursday with HRCC). I know that Germany is a CEPT country and to use the Germany-authorized full HF privileges (“Class A” license), I need to be an Extra (or else as a General, I would get a hybrid of a Technician and General band privileges).

In any case, I’m touching base to make sure I’m not oblivious of something out of left field. I know I need to carry the FCC document that indicates the international agreement, but is there anything else that I need to prepare or bring to operate over there? I understand that as an extra, my call would be DL/WD4AWD.

Just looking for some “proofreading” of my preparation from another traveler who is infinitely more experienced in operating abroad than I am. Thanks for any tips!

Thank you for reaching out Spencer! First of all, congrats on working on your Extra exam. It’s brilliant that your travels are inspiring you to bite the bullet!

Readers, I asked Spencer for permission to post his question here, because I’ve never actually operated in Germany (or any other EU country) with my American call. On those occasions, I was living in the UK, so used my UK call, M0CYI. I’m not sure if the procedure is the same.

In fact, I never even operated in the UK with my US callsign because almost immediately after moving, I obtained a UK license (which was, in fact, a very simple process).

If memory serves, I thought at one point there may have been an extra step: to register with the Bundesnetzagentur (BNetzA). I’m not sure if that’s required anymore or, in fact, if it ever was for CEPT. I do know that operating in a CEPT country is usually very simple and hassle-free.

Readers: if you have experience operating with a US license in Germany, can you please comment with any tips or additional information that would help Spencer? In addition, if you have tips about operating in other CEPT countries, please feel free to comment.

21 thoughts on “CEPT: Using a US callsign in Germany?”

  1. Spencer,

    Operating in CEPT countries is easy. Here is the TL;DR, feel free to email me if you want to chat further.

    – you can operate with your US license, but under the rules of the country you’re in.
    – you must have on your person a copy of 1) your official FCC license, 2) proof of citizenship (passport), 3) the FCC CEPT public notice document (link -https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DA-16-1048A1.pdf )

    The DARC (German ARRL) has a phenomenal guide for CEPT. Highly recommend you download it – https://files.darc.de/index.php/s/CKT38kZP6miK7xf

    Have fun!

    de K4ZSR

    P.S. Thomas, I haven’t forgotten about sending you a guest post about my Europe adventures last year. I’ve just been slammed with work, I’ll try and get it to you this month.

  2. You should operate as DL/ followed by your callsign. So, for example, I would operate as DL/M0WIV.

    In probably anywhere else in Europe you could get away without carrying the documentation (copy of licence etc) but I wouldn’t try this in Germany. They do love their rules – which I mean kindly having lived there for a few years and love the country.

  3. I have operated in Italy and recently Spain using my canadian callsign.

    I obtained my CEPT permit from Radio Amateurs of Canada or rac.ca for a small fee

    I carry that and my license in a plastic envelope with my radio bag

    I used I4/VE3IPS and E4 and EA7

    I was only asked once about what I was doing as I was deploying my antenna under a security camera and that drew attention. I showed my papers but he did not understand any english but the tour guide intervened. She told him I was a ham but in Spanish she used the term Iberico meaning I was a pig. He laughed.

    The ARRL website has more information. I would contact the german equivalent for their procedure as well.

    I am going to an island later this year and I understand there is a customs inspection process to review your equipment as part of the process

    They do not have that in the EU but your radio bag may require a security inspection if travelling by air or rail as standard. Wires, batteries and the such look odd on xray scanners that can trigger an inspection.

    Travellers got super annoyed by my delaying them as they scanned my carry on 3 times in three different ways before letting me through…..a physical inspection would have been easier I suppose.

    I was hoping to operate from Gibraltar but the contact at the radio club told me that day trip operations are not possible.

  4. I’ve operated in several EU countries other than the UK, such as Greece, Finland and Estonia. Before leaving, I sent an email to each country’s equivalent of the ARRL, & received very nice replies. Please note that the USA is not a signatory to CEPT, but we can operate under CEPT, following the statutes. The Greek Radio Union was very helpful, and even provided a copy of the Greece amateur radio statutes in Greek, that showed I could operate there, if questioned by the authorities, especially the Police at ancient sites.
    -ARRL has several helpful pages that detail operating in foreign countries: https://www.arrl.org/reciprocal-permit
    “The US is a Non-CEPT administration, but has agreed to the conditions contained in T/r 61-01, which allows US Amateur Extra and Advanced class licensees permission to operate under the agreement from CEPT countries.
    Under the CEPT Agreement, to activate this reciprocal operating authority, a traveler must carry credentials in English, French and German that the person, if a US citizen, and if a Commission-authorized amateur operator, is entitled to certain amateur station operating privileges in the specific countries that have implemented the CEPT Agreement. For US-licensees, that document is FCC Public Notice DA 16-1048 and is found here.” So, you also need to carry the FCC Public Notice, in addition to the other print-outs.
    -For both Estonia and Greece, my prefix needed the locator where we were staying. eg, SV3/K4RLC/P….(this call was “assigned” by the Greek Radio Union since I operating portable there in the Peloponnesian peninsula). In Estonia, the call was ES1/K4RLC, since we were operating in the capital city area of Tallinn.
    -Also, usual stuff about being courteous and not being a “bad American tourist.” Finland was very ham friendly. Estonia was wide open. Greece is rightfully protective of their ancient sites which also are SOTA sites.
    -This is so much better than having to obtain a license in certain countries that don’t participate. While Belize was very ham friendly for licensure (still have V31KR), St Lucia was horrible. If not for Frans J68DS, a local ham on the island, we would have never gotten a license . Another ham & I are applying for licenses on St. Kitts, and fortunately this is a much easier process.
    -So, to be safe, I would contact the German Radio Union and read all the info that ARRL has on operating in foreign countries. There are fine POTA & SOTA sites in Germany, so hope you have fun.

  5. For all European countries, please see this link:

    There is a link on that page to a PDF with all the band plans and limitations per country, provided by the DARC (German ARRL). Be sure to know if your licence compares to a novice or full licence and use the according columns in the table.

    As a general rule: You can use your own callsign, but prepend the proper country code in front of it.

    I was operating with my novice licence in Denmark last week, so I was operating as “OZ/PD0WSL” there. The fun thin was I suddenly was allowed on other bands than in my home country.

  6. A very timely post, Thomas. My wife and I have just arrived in Paris… but I doubt I’ll get on the air, as my beautiful wife shot me a glance, which in any language, could only mean “uh oh!”. It’s raining now anyways… au Voir 72 de FR/W7UDT.

  7. Spencer, WD4AWD, is correct in his assumptions. Just bring a copy of your license and take a copy of this public notice with you:


    Then just sign with DL/callsign in Germany. Just yesterday I returned from the Netherlands where I operated as PA/KR1ST using the same documentation.

    Also, do not worry about what gear you can take with you. I took quite a pile of gear with me, including HF and VHF antennas, and no one blinked an eye.

    Have fun operating from Germany!

  8. Operating in CEPT countries is easy. I operated from Iceland as TF/callsign and carried documentation. I upgraded to Extra class so that I can operate outside the US and activate parks.
    Have fun operating in Germany!
    de N7MEB

    1. Hi Harald –

      Does this application apply for CEPT countries for for non-CEPT? Looking at the CEPT-related documents others linked to, I didn’t see where this was required for countries that participate in CEPT.


  9. Thank you so much, everybody! Fortunately, I passed my Amateur Extra exam this evening so this thread will not have been in vain!

    1. Thanks Harald! It sounds like the only thing left for me to do is to figure out what and how to pack!

  10. I operated as M/K6PLI in England under CEPT recently. As mentioned above, note that there are sometimes regional identifiers, so if you were in Scotland you would be MM/CALL, Wales MW/CALL, etc. Operating under CEPT is a great reason to upgrade to Extra. Depending on the country, a General might have no privileges, or only very limited ones.

    If you operate FTx, note that the prefix may cause your call to be hashed, which can result in your grid square not being sent; this is normal. I found that FT8 20m from England was so crowded a QRP signal really struggled. FT4 was easier to get through on 20m.

    If you log with LOTW, QRZ, ClubLog, etc. you should check how to request a subaccount / additional logbook with your CEPT prefix/suffix. This was pretty easy for the three listed above.

  11. Spencer – First, congrads on the Extra. Great work.
    Second, there is some contradictory & incorrect information on here. Again, I suggest you go to the ARRL info I posted for correct information. And to contact the German Radio Union directly.

  12. Your call should be DL/US-Call that’s all.
    Carry a copy of your US license that’s it.
    I am holding a US extra class and a German A class
    Operating SOTA in Italy and France just using F/…… and I/……
    Have fun



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