Operating Abroad

The European Conference of Postal and Telecommunication Administrations (CEPT) is a group with almost 50 European and eight other countries.

Amongst their many actions, they have agreed a common standard of amateur radio licence (T/R 61-01) so as to facilitate the temporary operation in a fellow member’s country. Once each member’s country has confirmed that their amateur radio licence conforms to the CEPT minimum standard, then its amateurs may operate in a fellow member’s country which has also confirmed the recommendation.

CEPT operation does not replace reciprocal licensing – rather it supplements it. Only temporary operation is permitted under CEPT rules, eg from hotel accommodation or mobile. Therefore, if you seek either long-term (over three months) residence or additional facilities, you still need to apply for a reciprocal licence. Operating under CEPT regulations means that you are restricted by the regulations of the foreign country.

To operate under CEPT regulations, you need to have with you your UK licence validation document, a copy of the UK licensing regulations (Section 2 of your licence) and a copy of the foreign country’s licensing regulations. You will need to contact the foreign country’s licensing administration to obtain a copy of the latter. Details can be obtained via their national society. For more information, see your UK licence or ERO Document Recommendation TR61-01.

Reciprocal licensing 
A reciprocal licence is a licence issued by a foreign country to you because that country recognises the standards of the UK licence. Some countries do this unilaterally, others require a two-way recognition – a reciprocal licence. The callsign issued is sometimes your own callsign with the foreign country’s suffix or prefix. In other countries it is a callsign allocated in their normal series of callsigns.

At the moment not all countries have followed the UK by abandoning the Morse test requirement for an HF licence. If you held a Class-B Full licence, you would be well advised to check that you will be able to operate on HF in any country you are travelling to.

Due to overseas post and administration delays, it is generally best to allow at least two to three months for your application to be processed – longer if it is a developing country where amateur radio is not so sympathetically regarded. Airmail does help!

Reciprocal agreements and CEPT operation do not apply to Foundation or Intermediate licences.

National societies
Most countries have a national society which looks after the well being of that country’s amateurs. A list may be found at http://www.iaru.org/iaru-soc.html. Few are of the size of the RSGB – indeed many are staffed entirely by volunteers. Nevertheless, they will all give you as much assistance as they can. If you require information about band plans, repeaters, local clubs, or have difficulty in obtaining a reciprocal licence, please contact that country’s national society.

Customs
There is usually little problem with customs. It certainly helps to be able to show that the equipment was purchased abroad and is not being exported. Unfortunately, neither a reciprocal licence nor operation under CEPT regulations is deemed an exemption from customs formalities.

If in doubt, you should seek additional advice about importing/exporting equipment. Information is available on 020 7202 4227.

For an up to date list of countries that have implemented CEPT T/R 61-01 please see ERO website.