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 – a call sign – which you must use to identify yourself when transmitting.

Students studying at an amateur radio courseThe Foundation course

The Foundation course may take place locally in a radio club environment or online via one of several online training course providers. Courses are conducted by experienced radio amateurs

The underlying reasons for the Foundation level exam are to ensure that you are able to operate safely and without causing problems to other radio users. 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.

Depending on how you choose to learn, the course may be completed over a weekend or spread over a few evenings or weekends. If you choose to learn at home, then you can complete an online course or self-study with the available training books (www.rsgb.org.uk/shop) and work at your own pace.

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 – you have 60 minutes to complete.

The examination is normally taken online and you will be informed of your result at the end. If you are unable to sit the exam online for defined special needs then other arrangements are available (applications to the Examinations Dept are required for these in plenty of time to ensure that suitable arrangements can be made).

Bookings for the examination may be made online and payment is required at the time of booking. You will be able to choose from a list of available dates and times.

For the Foundation licence exam the fee is currently £32.50 (£35.50 from 1 May 2024)

What happens after the Foundation exam?

If you pass you will receive an official result sheet from the RSGB examination office within 10 working days. You will also receive a certificate a few days later.

Your pass result will be sent to the UK communications regulator Ofcom, who issue amateur radio licences.

You may then register and log on to the Ofcom licensing system to apply for your licence using the candidate number provided on your certificate.

If you apply for your Foundation licence on the Ofcom website, your licence is free of charge (there is a charge of £20 if you apply via post). Visit the Ofcom website to find out more.

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 able operate on all the amateur bands, without supervision, up to a power of 10 watts. You will find that 10W is plenty enough to communicate almost anywhere in the world.

To find out more call the RSGB Examinations Department on 01234 832 707.

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.