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Author Topic: ARE THERE STILL PLACES WHERE HAM LICENSES CAN BE BOUGHT W/O TEST  (Read 41685 times)
K2ACB
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Posts: 64




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« on: November 25, 2011, 09:40:56 AM »

Many years ago I met in New York City a family of radio amateurs from a Central Ameican Country. The whole family had amateur radio licenses including the children. I asked the father how the whole family managed to get amateur radio licenses and he nonchalantly mentioned that he had purchased licenses for the whole family from the licensing authority,

This Cental American country had reciprocity  with the USA Today it is not diffiicult to obtain an amateur radio license in the USA. However you still must take an exam to get your license.


I have known one case where a foreign radio amateur came to the USA and got a technician amateur radio license here. He then went back to his home country and used his American license to get on the air from that country. The amateur radio exam was much easier here than in his home country. This case was probably very exceptional.

I recently spoke to a foreign radio amateur on echolink. He was using an American call sign. He told me he had never been to the USA. He had friends in the USA and he was able to use their address. There were American authorized VEC's in his country who gave him the US Tech examination. The exam in his home country was much more difficult than in the USA . At least with the American license he could get on echolink. He was studying for the license from his own country so he would be able to get on the air from his home country. 

I bring up these examples because rules and standards to obtain  amateur radio licenses vary from country to country. In some countries it is much more difficult to get an amateur radio license than in the USA. However the USA may have reciorocity with these countries. Today the CEPT reciprocal license structure of many European countries will not recognize US Tech or General Class licenses for reciprocity. CEPT claims the Trch and General class licenses do not meet their standards for getting a reciprocal license.

There also maybe other countries with reciprocity with the USA where it is still possible for an individual or family to buy there amateur radio license without having to take an exam. Then they can come to the USA and enjoy full priveleges here using a reciprocal license.

Are there any comments?
73
Alan-K2ACB
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M0HCN
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« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2011, 02:38:15 PM »

A lot of the European licensing is three tier like the US, and at least in the UK it is not unheard of to take the US tests, get a US license and callsign then reciprocal it to a UK advanced license.

The US extra exam has a published question pool and can probably be passed by rote learning, where the UK exam question pools are not published, and can be worded in very oblique ways sometimes. Further because the UK licenses have to be passed in sequence and the advanced exam is only held every two months, it can be more convenient (as well as very much cheaper) to finesse the thing by taking all three of the US exams in a day (They are offered at the RSGB convention) and then converting to a UK ticket.

CEPT generally only recognizes the highest class of license as being of the standard required (for most countries).

I do not know of anywhere with CEPT recognition issuing licenses as a straight payed license, but that does not mean that such places do not exist, or that the US may not have extra reciprocal arrangements outside CEPT.

Shrug, are there enough people doing it (and then breaking the license terms) for it to be a problem? I would guess not, and if not, then why worry about it? The exams are pretty noddy anyway, and even the US extra should only be seen as a starting point in learning about radio.

Regards, Dan.
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WC4V
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« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2011, 03:19:11 AM »

I personally witnessed a local VE, change two answers on a General license test so a guy would pass.  I tend to think if the money was right, he would just out-right sell you a license. 

WC4V
Steve
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KE4YOG
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« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2011, 03:52:19 AM »

First of all if you give me the question for a test and a couple of months I can pass any test. I used hamtestonline.com for my general upgrade. I studied for 8 hours over 3 weeks. Passed with no questions missed. It is not that hard. I am not willing to pay except for study material and the test session. How much "extra" would one have to pay for this treatment? This is a hobby primarally (is that a word?). Yes it is a hobby that in an emergency can provide an important communication in an emergency but still primarally (is this still a word?) a hobby. By the time I scrounge up the green stamps to buy an used HF rig, Kenwood TS-2000 and all the other goodies I "needed" for my station I have spent enough. I will not pay to get help on a test. All the grief that could cause is not worth it.
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N0FPE
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« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2011, 07:38:40 AM »

It really doesnt make any difference. In the US you can get your license without ever knowing anything about radio or electronics. As long as you spend the time to memorize the answers thats all you need. and while some will actually study and learn most will not. Just the way things are now days. And not just in the ham world but society in general. Ah heres wishing for the bad old days when even the begineers could install a PL-259 correctly!!   LOLOL!!!
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N2EY
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« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2011, 03:38:32 AM »

I bring up these examples because rules and standards to obtain  amateur radio licenses vary from country to country.

It has always been so. What you seem to forget is that most countries have requirements that are fairly similar, and meet the treaty requirements. A few bend or outright break the rules - but they are only a few.

Would you have it be different? The alternative would be for all countries to sign on to the same exact license structure, determined by whatever could get a majority vote.

In some countries it is much more difficult to get an amateur radio license than in the USA. However the USA may have reciorocity with these countries.

What's wrong with that?

Today the CEPT reciprocal license structure of many European countries will not recognize US Tech or General

Some CEPT countries don't allow reciprocity for Novice, Technician and General licenses. Others allow it for Generals, just not full privileghes. It depends on the country.

It should be remembered that in some countries amateur radio barely exists at all; either because people cannot afford it, or the requirements are too strict, or the government generally frowns on the idea of individuals having their own radio transmitters. In some places it is only the wealthy and influential who can be hams.

Fortunately it's not like that here.

It should be remembered that, many years ago, the USA had the Conditional class. It was the equivalent of the General but the tests were administered by a single volunteer examiner who was not part of any organized system other than having a license. To qualify to take the Conditional you only had to live beyond a certain distance from an FCC exam session, and from 1954 to 1964 that distance was only 75 miles. Also, from 1953 to 1968 the Conditional granted full privileges.

73 de Jim, N2EY




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K2ACB
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« Reply #6 on: November 28, 2011, 06:34:42 AM »

I personally question whether it is proper  for the US to allow foreigners the right to have American radio amateur licenses if they do not take the radio examination in the USA. I do not know of any other country where a foreigner can take that country's amateur radio examination outside of that country. However if VEC's are outside the US they can administer amateur radio examinations to foreigners. All the foreign radio amateur needs is a US address.

I can understand this being the case for US military personel overseas or for US citizens or permanent residents overseas who could be absent from the USA for sometime. Is it fair if I want a British, Indian ,Australian,etc call sign I have to physically go to that country and either by examination or via a reciprocal licensing agreement obtain the call sign from that country's licensing authority. I know their are some exceptionss where you can obtain a foreign radio license while you are still in the US if you are going to visit that country and the US has reciprocity with that country. However in many cases you are only allowed to use your American call sign /(portable) with the prefix being that country's call sign such as VE3/K2ACB. I am referring to obtaining an official call sign from that country such as if I wanted to go to the UK could I take the UK exam in the USA or get a UK call sign via reciprocity before I left the USA. To the best of my knowledge you cannot do this.

Yet foreigners who have no physical connection with the USA can obtain USA call signs from abroad if their are licensed US VEC's in their country. I would not mind this if their was reciprocity between the US and the other countries where US hams for whatever reason could take that countries amateur radio exam in the US under authorized circumstances.

I may be mistaken but I do not think you can take any commercial radio license exam outside the US unless their are special circumstances such as being on a US military base. I think these exams are still given by the US government.

Again foreigners should have the right to take US amateur radio exams if they have a US address but they should only be allowed to take these exams when they are in the USA and not in another country unless that country allows US radio amateurs to take their amateur radio licensing exams in the USA.
« Last Edit: November 28, 2011, 06:46:58 AM by K2ACB » Logged
N2EY
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« Reply #7 on: November 28, 2011, 12:28:32 PM »

I personally question whether it is proper  for the US to allow foreigners the right to have American radio amateur licenses if they do not take the radio examination in the USA.

A license is not a right. It is a privilege.

However if VEC's are outside the US they can administer amateur radio examinations to foreigners. All the foreign radio amateur needs is a US address.

True - and access to a VEC.

The reason it's that way is because some years back (I'm not sure exactly when) the requirement for citizenship as a condition of FCC amateur licensing was removed.

What you're proposing is that non-citizens be required to travel to the USA in order to get a license, even though they provide a US address.

The question arises as to what "travel to the US" means. Is a territory or protectorate OK, or must it be the 50 states?

The FCC has consistently moved in the direction of simplicity for many years. Have a clean record, provide an address and pass the tests and get a license. Simple and straightforward.

Also consider that if the USA gets all fussy about its licensing, other countries can do the same in retaliation. Some countries simply don't allow noncitizens to operate, period, no exceptions. Since one of the goals of amateur radio is international good will, it might be a good idea to keep things as they are. Note that CEPT was created in part to make reciprocal licensing easier.

There's also the fact that in many if not most other countries the xams are given by the government and not by unpaid volunteers. For those countries to have a system such as ours, they would need to have government employees in the USA giving exams. That isn't likely to happen any time soon.

I may be mistaken but I do not think you can take any commercial radio license exam outside the US unless their are special circumstances such as being on a US military base. I think these exams are still given by the US government.

You are quite mistaken. Look up "GROL".

A commercial operator license does not require US citizenship any more. Nor are the exams given by the FCC or any government agency. They are all given by COLEMs, (google it), some of which may be outside the USA (I'm not sure on that point).

It has been  many years since FCC gave routine license exams for commercial or amateur operator licenses. The reason is simple: Money - it cost them serious $$ to run the exam system back-when. Getting unpaid volunteers or contractors to do the job saved them a bundle.

People say they want "small government" but then complain when they get it.

73 de Jim, N2EY
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WD8T
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« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2011, 08:28:18 AM »

You posted this as if you were asking a question yet told us about licenses being purchased.  Not sure I understand this. Are you a whistle bolwer looking for some validation or support?

VECs have been selling licenses and handing them out to their good buddies for years and years.  Nothing new there.

The fact that we still pretend an amateur radio license is even the least bit challenging and some special accomplishment is testiment to our ignorance of the state of our own hobby.      Pretty sad indeed.
« Last Edit: November 29, 2011, 08:32:36 AM by WD8T » Logged
M0HCN
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Posts: 473




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« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2011, 09:33:28 AM »

Yea, the licenses are all pretty noddy, but they only form a starting point, setting some very minimal baseline to get on the bands, no big achievement there.

I do not understand the whole pride in having a license thing, pride in being a good operator with a clean station I can see, pride in DXCC or whatever I can see (not something I am interested in, but it is a broad church), pride in having built some neat engineering I can see, but pride in having passed an easy test and gotten a callsign, not so much.....

Regards, Dan.
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W5DQ
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« Reply #10 on: November 29, 2011, 02:36:38 PM »

I personally witnessed a local VE, change two answers on a General license test so a guy would pass.  I tend to think if the money was right, he would just out-right sell you a license. 

WC4V
Steve

So did you turn him in to the responsible VEC for cheating? He and the applicant should both lose their licenses and be barred from ever applying for another. Angry  It's a sad state of affairs when some VE is willing to allow cheating on amateur radio test these days as they are practically given away anyhow!  Where were the other two VE's who are supposed to form a 3 person team witnessing all activities?

Gene W5DQ
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Gene W5DQ
Ridgecrest, CA - DM15dp
www.radioroom.org
AB2T
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« Reply #11 on: November 29, 2011, 11:05:23 PM »

A lot of the European licensing is three tier like the US, and at least in the UK it is not unheard of to take the US tests, get a US license and callsign then reciprocal it to a UK advanced license.

Does this mean that if I move to Britain on visa I can get a UK advanced call simply by mailing a photocopy of my Extra license to Ofcom?  I wonder if the same would be true with my Canadian Advanced license.  I'm covered twice over for CEPT on trips, even though I've never had the opportunity to operate while in Europe, for example.  

As a resident alien in Canada, I had to take all the Canadian tests.  There's no reciprocity with the US tickets, surprisingly.  I could've operated with my American ticket, but I wanted a Canadian call (collect 'em all!)  

It should be remembered that in some countries amateur radio barely exists at all; either because people cannot afford it, or the requirements are too strict, or the government generally frowns on the idea of individuals having their own radio transmitters. In some places it is only the wealthy and influential who can be hams.

I strongly suspect that the "station fees" in many developing countries are outrageous even from a developed nation citizen's perspective.  Also, I've often wondered if some of the more to most rare DX stations are operating quasi-illegally.  The stations might not be licensed by examination but are permitted to operate by national authorities, perhaps for a bribe.  Not to cast aspersions, but this is a long-held suspicion of mine.  If the ARRL is willing to recognize certain countries and their operators as valid entries for DXCC, then this issue is the League's business and not mine.    

I personally question whether it is proper  for the US to allow foreigners the right to have American radio amateur licenses if they do not take the radio examination in the USA.

The American ham radio licensing system is one of the most efficient and aboveboard systems in the world even after privatization.  If I were a ham in a developing country, I would prefer to hold an American license as this license would signify that I have passed a series of standardized examinations proctored by Americans who can be held accountable for testing irregularities (e.g. permanent cancellation of license as a penalty for examination fraud).  At the very least, an American ticket would lend some credibility to an operator in a nation without a testing system or with a corrupt testing system.

73, Jordan  
« Last Edit: November 29, 2011, 11:10:15 PM by AB2T » Logged
M0HCN
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« Reply #12 on: November 30, 2011, 06:42:10 AM »

Does this mean that if I move to Britain on visa I can get a UK advanced call simply by mailing a photocopy of my Extra license to Ofcom?  I wonder if the same would be true with my Canadian Advanced license.  I'm covered twice over for CEPT on trips, even though I've never had the opportunity to operate while in Europe, for example.  

I think you have to fill in a form and send a paper copy to Ofcom, and it costs about £20, but yea, your extra pass certificate is valid as proof of having passed the tests and can be used to obtain a UK callsign.
You will need to obtain a "Harmonised Amateur Radio Examinations Certificate", I don't know how you do that in the States.....

Details are Here: http://licensing.ofcom.org.uk/radiocommunication-licences/amateur-radio/faq/759498

Regards, Dan.
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M0HCN
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« Reply #13 on: November 30, 2011, 10:23:13 AM »

Granted, I am rather unimpressed by the modern tendency to 'multiple guess' exams (Especially ones with typically 4 options and a 60% pass mark, means you don't really have to know much).

Still our advanced exam (which I must get around to taking sometime), does NOT have a published question pool and has some fairly tricky questions. I still think that a proper written paper would be a far better test of radio knowledge (For all that it would be more expensive to mark). 

Regards, Dan.
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AB2T
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« Reply #14 on: December 01, 2011, 02:34:38 PM »

Still our advanced exam (which I must get around to taking sometime), does NOT have a published question pool and has some fairly tricky questions. I still think that a proper written paper would be a far better test of radio knowledge (For all that it would be more expensive to mark). 

Why is the UK Advanced test only offered once every two months?  Are your exams still administered by government ministry employees? 

I could see hams in the UK getting the American Extra and then "flipping it" to a full UK license simply because the UK Advanced exam is only offered six times a year.  That's not very convenient for most people.

Is there an online syllabus or sample "similar questions" for the UK Advanced exam?  I'd be interested to see what's on the exam.  Other British hams I know have said the same thing -- there are some 'trick' questions on the UK Advanced that are in fact rather simple questions in disguise. 
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