While any one can listen to the amateur bands, you need a licence to transmit on them. To obtain a licence you need to pass an exam; but do not panic, the entry level exam is really not that difficult.
Your first amateur radio licence will be the Foundation Licence
, which has been purposely designed as an easy-to-achieve goal to help the newcomer get on the air quickly. Some 10 hours tuition is all that is normally required to prepare for the assessment and examination. If you have existing knowledge of radio or electronics, the preparation time is likely to be much less.
There is no requirement to attend any formal training but you do need to gain sufficient knowledge to pass the RSGB written examination. The Foundation exam has 26 multiple choice questions to be answered in 55 minutes, requiring at least 19 to be answered correctly.
The Foundation Radio Amateur Examination is part of a structured suite of three examinations recognised by Ofcom
—the amateur radio license issuing authority—to give access to the amateur radio bands. All prospective radio amateurs must demonstrate a suitable level of competence and proficiency as a prerequisite to holding a licence.
The Foundation Licence is the entry level to amateur radio, intended to provide an exciting introduction to the hobby while requiring an acceptable minimum level of skill and experience.
The RSGB produces a very good booklet Foundation Licence Now!
detailing all the information needed to take the Foundation Licence practical assessment and examination.
Note that, wherever you take the examination, a fee
will be incurred, and some venues may charge a small fee to cover room hire, etc.
If youíre an Air Cadet preparing for your Communicatorís badge and have passed the ACO Equivalent examination, this will be accepted by Ofcom as the exact equivalent of the RSGB Foundation examination, and no fee is incurred.
There is no age limit for taking the examination, although candidates must be of an age where they are able to read and understand the training book, be able to recognise and use fractions and decimals, and be able to sit a formal examination.