Foundation Licence

The Foundation licence is your gateway to the world of amateur radio

The course and exam that leads to the licence provides you with an exciting introduction to the hobby while requiring an acceptable minimum level of skill and experience.

Your Foundation licence is recognised by the UK communications regulator Ofcom.

It entitles you to have a unique identifier called a call sign which is used to identify you when you’re transmitting.

The course

COVID-19 has restricted Foundation courses that take place in local radio clubs.

There are online courses such as those available via Essex Ham and GM6DX It’s all about DXing.

Other clubs are starting to offer online training, so please check with your local club to find out what training and support they can offer, before and after the exam.

  • Essex Ham*
    Essex Ham’s Foundation Online is a free regular training course that’s helped over 4,000 people to prepare for their Foundation exam. The course makes use of a virtual classroom, handouts, slides, video presentations, quizzes and mock tests, as well as live webinars with the tutors, to prepare you for the UK’s entry-level exam. The course works from any web browser as well as tablets and smartphones and allows students to chat with tutors and other students during their study. Sign up free at hamtrain.co.uk
  • GM6DX It’s all about DXing*
    The Foundation course consists of 58 lessons which include PDFs, videos and quizzes. All material is written in a way that is suitable for all age groups. The course contains five mock exams where the questions are in a format that represents a realistic exam question.
    As the course is online, material is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can self-enrol at any time. The platform which hosts the course is a professional online course platform called Thinkific. The course is 100 percent free and is tailored to suit the current syllabus. This course can be accessed at gm6dx.thinkific.com

Once government advice allows it, you can use our Course and Exam Finder to find a club that will provide the Foundation course near you.

Some of the Foundation training relates to the practical elements of getting started as a radio amateur. There is a small amount of radio and electronics theory but only enough for you to understand how to safely assemble your equipment, adjust an antenna, make your first contacts and then get the most out of your radio station. Usually you would take a practical assessment as part of gaining your licence but we have suspended this temporarily due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Your course should take around 10 to 12 hours to complete and can be spread out over a few weeks or weekends.

The exam

Don’t be put off by the thought of having to do an exam.

The Foundation exam is very straightforward and consists of 26 multiple choice questions which you have 60 minutes to answer.

Usually the exam may be taken online or on paper at an RSGB registered venue, but during the current situation with COVID-19 you can only take your exam online with a remote invigilator.

You will be given your result immediately after you complete the online exam, together with detailed feedback regarding your performance.

For the Foundation licence exam there is a fee of £27.50.

What happens after the exam?

You will receive an official result notification in the post from the RSGB Examinations Department. This takes around six working days from your exam date.

If you have passed, you will also receive a certificate and your candidate number. The Examinations Department will upload your pass to the UK communications regulator Ofcom, which is responsible for issuing amateur radio licences.

You may then log on to the Ofcom licensing system to apply for your licence. Please make sure that you have your candidate number to hand because you will need this to complete the process. If you apply for your Foundation licence on the Ofcom website, your licence is free of charge.

Visit the Ofcom amateur radio pages to find out more about applying for an amateur radio licence.

Once you have your Foundation licence and have chosen a call sign from those available, you are ready to make your first transmission on the amateur radio bands – an exciting moment!

You are then free to operate on the most frequently-used amateur bands, without supervision, up to a power of 10 Watts.

This does not sound like very much power, but once you have acquired experience operating your radio you will find it is enough to communicate almost anywhere in the world.

To find out more call the RSGB Examinations Department on 01234 832 700.

We will be pleased to answer any question you may have about obtaining a Foundation licence.

The RSGB wishes you the best of luck on your journey to becoming a licensed radio amateur.

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* This information is supplied by the training provider—please check directly with them for full up-to-date information