RSGB letters of authority

Packet radio systems and beacons: replacing RSGB 'Letters of Authority'

In past years, a number of variations were issued to individual Amateur Radio licensees via the Radio Society of Great Britain (“RSGB”). The letters that the RSGB sent suggested that it was the RSGB who was authorising the use of radio apparatus.

The principal legislation under which we regulate the use of radio is the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006. This says that only Ofcom may grant or vary Amateur Radio licences. The 2006 Act replaced the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1949, which said that only the Secretary of State (including the RA) could grant or vary Amateur Radio licences. To place it beyond question, therefore, any authorisation not clearly issued by the spectrum regulator (for example letters of authority issued by the RSGB) must now be replaced with a formal variation, issued by Ofcom.

When we authorise a packet system it is published on and when we authorise a beacon, it is published on If you cannot find your system amongst those listed on these websites, then you should assume that your letter or clearance is not valid.

If you are listed and received a variation from Ofcom that was simply processed by the RSGB, you do not need to do anything, as it is clear that those variations were granted by the spectrum regulator.

However, if you have an older variation that was contained in a letter from the RSGB, you should apply to us via the renewals gateway service on to exchange it for a formal variation issued by Ofcom. This even includes RSGB letters that include text such as

“On behalf of the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry”

To obtain your replacement Ofcom variation, the process will require you to confirm:

  • that you wish us to vary your licence for this purpose
  • your name
  • your personal amateur radio call sign and licence number
  • that your personal amateur radio licence remains valid
  • the type of facility that was authorised by the RSGB letter (eg packet radio system or beacon)
  • the call sign and frequency of the facility authorised by the RSGB letter
  • that the facility authorised by the RSGB letter remains active
  • that the authorisation contained in the RSGB letter has not been withdrawn, eg by its expiry or by subsequent variation of the licence
  • current contact details for persons who can switch off the beacon or packet radio system.

If you still have scans of old authorisation letters these would also be helpful.

We shall then assess your request. We shall not replace any RSGB letter that has expired or been cancelled or that varied a licence that has subsequently been surrendered or revoked.

If you believe that you were authorised under a letter from the RSGB but cannot now find it (but you continue to use the facility that it authorised), you should reapply for a variation as if doing so from scratch.

If you had a letter of authority but you no longer use the facility that it authorised, please also notify us via the service, with your name, licence number and personal call sign, together with the call sign of the facility that was authorised by the letter of authority. This will make the assigned frequency available for reassignment.