The Foundation licence is your gateway to amateur radio.
The course and exam that leads to the licence provides you with an exciting introduction to the hobby while requiring an acceptable minimum level of skill and experience.
Your Foundation licence is recognised by the UK communications regulator Ofcom, and entitles you to take a unique identifier called a callsign which will be used to identify you when you are transmitting.
The Foundation courses take place locally in a friendly and informal environment and are conducted by experienced radio amateurs, usually at a local radio club.
Most of the training is practical, there is a small amount of radio and electronics theory but only enough for you to appreciate things like using the correct fuses in your equipment and how to build an antenna to get the most out of your radio station.
Your course will take 10 to 12 hours to complete, and can be spread out over a few weeks or weekends.
Don’t be put off by the thought of having to do an exam.
The Foundation exam is very straightforward and consists of 26 multiple choice questions which you have 55 minutes to answer.
Your exam paper is checked by the invigilator straight after the exam so you will have a good idea if you have passed before you leave.
The formal marking is carried out electronically at the RSGB Examinations Department.
For the Foundation licence course exam there is a fee of £27.50.
What happens after the exam?
You will receive an official result sheet in the post from the RSGB Examinations Department. This takes at least six days working days from the of receipt of your exam paper at HQ.
If you have passed, you will at the same time receive a certificate and your candidate number. The examination office will upload your pass to the UK communications regulator Ofcom, who are responsible for issuing amateur radio licences.
You may then log on to the Ofcom licensing system at https://services.ofcom.org.uk to apply for your licence. Please make sure that you have your candidate number to hand, because you will need this to complete the process.
If you apply for your Foundation licence on the Ofcom website, your licence is free of charge.
Visit the Ofcom website to find out more about applying for an amateur radio licence.
Once you have your Foundation licence and have chosen a callsign from those available, you are ready to make your first transmission on the amateur radio bands; an exciting moment.
You are then free to operate on the most frequently used amateur bands, without supervision, up to a power of 10 watts.
This does not sound like very much power, but once you have acquired experience operating your radio you will find it is enough to communicate almost anywhere in the world.