What is a “Special Event”

NOTE: This page was last revised in July 2023. It is possible that subsequent changes to the licensing system and structure may make some or all of this information incorrect, you are advised to check the current position with OfCom.

There are, technically, 3 types of Special Event Callsigns:

  • A “normal” Special Event Station (SES). Typically in the format GB followed by 1 digit (0-8) and two or three letters, e.g. GB0SBM
  • A “special” Special Event Station (SSES). These are allowed to have a different format, often having more than a single digit to reflect a particular anniversary and in some cases additional letters, e.g GB80AGBB.
  • A “permanent” Special Event Station (PSES). Similar to a regular SES both in callsign format and purpose the primary difference between a PSES and a SES is that the former isn’t time limited and can be used at any time.

Normal Special Event Station (SES)

An SES must be in support of an event which is of special significance, such as a celebration, anniversary or demonstration; and will be open to viewing by members of the public. The NoV will be valid for a maximum of 28 consecutive days.

A Notice of Variation (NoV) will only be issued to individuals who hold a current UK Full Licence or a Full (Club) Licence. Applications for a normal SES can be made and issued via the Ofcom Online Licensing System and, provided that the requested callsign is available, the process is more or less instantaneous if the Licence that is being varied is in order.

The station may only be established and operated at one specified location. This must be the address stated on the application form, which must be detailed enough for anyone to find easily.

Special Event call signs are reserved to a licensee for two years from the NoV end date.

Special Special Event Stations (SSES)

A SSES application needs to meet additional Ofcom criteria:

  • It must be associated with a non-amateur radio event or commemoration,
  • That non-amateur event must be of national significance, and
  • The organisers of that non-amateur radio event must agree to the amateur radio SSES being associated with their event.

An example might be for a major centenary, with a letter of support from a museum.

Permanent Special Event Station (PSES)

A permanent special event station (PSES) is one that is usually set up at a fixed venue or recurring event and because of that is given a callsign of its own that always stays the same.

Many of these permanent special event stations are set up in museums or other historical sights of amateur radio interest which can be visited.

For those who are interested, the RSGB have a list of PSES’s.

At the moment both SSES’s and PSES’s have to be applied for using a form, only SES’s can be applied for on-line.