Applying for a Special Event Station

Radio amateurs with Red Arrows aircrew at a special eventApplications and Conditions

Applications for Special Event Stations (SES) should be made to Ofcom, the UK communications regulator responsible for managing amateur radio licensing. A Notice of Variation (NoV) will only be issued to individuals who hold a current UK Full Licence or a Full (Club) Licence. Applications for a standard SES can be made and issued via the Ofcom Online Licensing System.

An SES must be in support of an event which is of special significance, such as a celebration, anniversary or demonstration; and will be open to viewing by members of the public. The NoV will be valid for a maximum of 28 consecutive days.

Note that applications for ‘Specials’ (SSES) and ‘Permanents’ (PSES) cannot be made online, have additional criteria and require a separate Ofcom form (OfW287).

Things to Remember

Transmitting in a tent at a special event stationThe station may only be established and operated at one specified location. This must be the address stated on the application form, which must be detailed enough for anyone to find easily.

Only the person responsible for the station need sign the form, as the authorisation is by notice of variation to that individual’s licence or to the club licence. Additional operators need only sign and write their callsigns in the logbook.


RSGB will do its best to publicise your special event and its callsign by putting details into the Special Events table in RadCom, on GB2RS News broadcasts, and on the RSGB website, but you must help us to help you. On the second page of Ofcom’s SES NoV application form there is a Data Protection section. Unless you specifically tick the Yes box, Ofcom cannot tell RSGB about your event and we will NOT be able to promote it through the usual channels. (If you don’t tick either box, it’s automatically assumed to be ‘no’).

Reservation and Re-issue of Callsigns

Headquarters of Ofcom in London, UKIf you have not used the callsign before, you can avoid last-minute disappointment by first contacting Ofcom. They can then check that it is available and reserve it for you. A GB callsign may be reserved for up to six months in advance.

When a GB callsign has been used it will not normally be re-issued to another amateur for use at a different event for a period of up to 12 months.

Callsign Formats

Subject to availability, standard special event callsigns are available in the following formats:

GB0 + 2 or 3 letters
GB1 + 2 or 3 letters
GB2 + 2 or 3 letters
GB4 + 2 or 3 letters
GB5 + 2 or 3 letters
GB6 + 2 or 3 letters
GB8 + 2 or 3 letters

‘Special’ Special Events – SSES

In addition to regular SES there is a facility for ‘Special’ SES (SSES). These can use additional callsign formats (typically with extra digits – such as GB100XYZ). A SSES application needs to meet additional Ofcom criteria:-

  • It must be associated with a non-amateur radio event or commemoration
  • That non-amateur event must be of national significance
  • The organisers of that non-amateur radio event must agree to the amateur radio SSES being associated with their event

An example might be for a major centenary, with a letter of support from a museum. Applications for a ‘Special’ Special should use a separate Ofcom form (OfW287) and cannot be made via the online licensing portal. Suitable PDFs/scans can instead be emailed to Ofcom’s Spectrum Licensing team.

To find out more call the RSGB on 01234 832 700 and choose the option for Amateur Radio Enquiries. Our advisors will be pleased to answer any question you may have about licensing a special event station. Notices of Variation are issued by Ofcom,
The RSGB hopes your special event station is enjoyable and successful.