What to do Next

Instructor supervising student operating a radio transmitterGetting started in Amateur Radio: the Foundation Licence

The Foundation licence is your gateway to 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, and entitles you to take a unique identifier called a callsign which will be used to identify you when you are transmitting.

Students studying at an amateur radio courseThe Foundation course

The Foundation courses take place locally in a friendly and informal environment and are conducted by experienced radio amateurs, usually at a local radio club.

Most of the training is practical, there is a small amount of radio and electronics theory but only enough for you to appreciate things like using the correct fuses in your equipment and how to build an antenna to get the most out of your radio station.

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

Students sitting an amateur radio examThe Foundation 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 45 minutes to answer.

Your exam paper is checked by the invigilator straight after the exam so you will have a good idea if you have passed before you leave.

The formal marking is carried out electronically at the RSGB’s examination office.

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

What happens after the Foundation exam?

If your pass is confirmed you will receive an official result sheet from the RSGB examination office within 6 days of receipt of your exam paper.

You will also receive a certificate a few days later.

The examination office will upload your pass to the UK communications regulator Ofcom, who are responsible for issuing amateur radio licences.

You may then register and log on to the Ofcom licensing system to apply for your licence.

If you apply for your Foundation licence on the Ofcom website, your licence is free of charge. Visit the Ofcom website to find out more.

Once you have your Foundation licence and have chosen a callsign 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 all the 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.

Our advisors 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.