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When an individual passes the initial licensing test, a call sign is issued by the licensing entity, such as the FCC. These are generally issued in sequence, and in the US, they contain a number corresponding to the area of the country the new Ham resides in. An initial number in the US might look like KJ4ABC. The "4" indicates the southeast US.

When a US amateur advances to the General class, he may elect to change his call sign by obtaining a "vanity" combination. General class operators may shorten their call sign by one digit, but must still have a number. There is much additional information on vanity call signs at this site:

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last modified: 2007-11-10 16:41:00