My Path to a Vanity Call Sign

The trials and tribulations of applying for a vanity call sign.

On May 14 I passed my Extra class exam. On May 20 the FCC updated its ULS database with my new privileges so I immediately applied for one particular vanity call sign that interested me. It actually became available on May 20.

I had been following the availability of vanity call signs at radioqth.net which I recommend highly. It’s easy to use and you can quickly hone in on call signs that interest you.

I went the the FCC website and within less than a minute my application for a new vanity call sign had been filed with the FCC.

I will digress for a moment about organizations like W5YI. W5YI charges a $29.95 fee to process your application. But at the FCC site, the application is free of charge. Here is my rant about W5YI:

  • I can save the $29.95 fee and do it myself for free.
  • While the W5YI website does disclose that the FCC no longer charges a fee, they still try to convince you it’s better to pay their fee and let them do it for you. Really? I don’t think so. Why? Makes no sense to me.
  • If you do pay the fee to W5YI, you have to give them your FCC ULS site login username and password. I’M SIMPLY NOT TURNING OVER sensitive login information to any third party. Period. What if W5YI is hacked on down the road?
  • W5YI asserts on its website that once they’ve filed on your behalf and your new vanity call sign is subsequently approved by the FCC, you’ll receive your hard copy license by mail the next week. Huh? Since the FCC no longer mails new licenses by default, I don’t know how W5YI is going to pull that off.
  • Filing for myself was clearly faster and more timely than using W5YI.

Here are my closing two cents for you…

Apply for the vanity call sign yourself. It’s easy and fast at the FCC website. And you save yourself money. Simply go here to apply.

Update, May 31:  I am still awaiting the FCC to take action on my application. But I am NOT holding my breath. Unfortunately I found out that 33 other souls applied for the same vanity call sign on the same day — the date it actually became available. Contrary to popular belief, the FCC does not grant the vanity call sign to the first application received on a particular day. It uses a random draw for all applications received on a particular day. I only have about a 3% chance of being selected — obviously not very good odds.

My application is still stuck in the FCC’s red tape process. I check the FCC website daily for the good or bad news. Would just like to know one way or the other…~sigh

Update, June 7:  My road ended abruptly today. On the 18th day of FCC red tape, the FCC finally acted on my application. It awarded the call sign in question to another ham. Grrr… but I have found solace in knowing that changing my online identities in things such as QRZ.com, LOTW, eQSL, etc. would have been major work. I’ll have time to think that over though — there is another call sign I have interest in, but it won’t be available for another six months.