The amateur service is designed primarily to facilitate hobby radiocommunications and for technical experimentation and operates on specified frequency bands. Amateur radio operators communicate using transmission modes including, but not limited to, Morse code, telephony and data.
Anyone can listen to the amateur bands using a receiver, but to transmit, operator qualifications and a licence issued by the ACMA are required.
Existing arrangements for the way amateur radio qualifications are conferred are due to expire in early 2019. As a result, the ACMA is reviewing new approaches to amateur radio qualification arrangements and has released a public consultation paper. Comments on the approaches described in the paper are sought by COB 2 July 2018.
Amateur Licence Examinations and Certifications
An amateur apparatus licence is issued to authorise a station that:
- is operated for the purposes of self-training in radiocommunications; intercommunication using radiocommunications; and technical investigation into radiocommunications by persons who do so solely with a personal aim, and who have no pecuniary interest in the outcome of the operations of the station;
- is operated on amateur frequencies or amateur frequency bands; and
- may participate in the amateur-satellite service.
Persons wishing to obtain an Amateur Certificate of Proficiency, need to pass an appropriate approved examination. An agreement is in place between the Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA) and the ACMA for the provision of amateur examinations. The WIA has responsibility for providing examinations and overseeing persons or organisations assessing examination candidates.
The WIA issues all new Amateur Certificates of Proficiency. Candidates who successfully pass an amateur examination may apply to the WIA for the issue of a Certificate of Proficiency, appropriate to the level of examination.
Details of the administrative arrangements for examinations and issuing Certificates of Proficiency are set out in the WIA Business Rules for the management of Amateur Examinations, Certificates of Proficiency and Associated Administrative Service - Word (325 kb) or PDF (669 kb).
More information about examinations may be obtained from the WIA at www.wia.org.au.
Examination formats and grades of proficiency
There are three grades of Amateur Operator's Certificate of Proficiency. These are:
- Amateur Operator's Certificate of Proficiency (Advanced) (AOCP(A));
- Amateur Operator's Certificate of Proficiency (Standard) (AOCP(S)); and
- Amateur Operator's Certificate of Proficiency (Foundation) (AOCP(F)).
The WIA issues Amateur Certificates of Proficiency. The holder of a Certificate of Proficiency is then entitled to apply to the ACMA for an amateur licence. Table 1 details each type of Certificate of Proficiency and its various subject requirements.
Table 1 - Certificate of Proficiency Types and Requirements
||Requirement for each Grade of Certificate
Yes - Advanced Theory paper
Yes - Standard Theory paper
Yes - combined Foundation Theory / Foundation Regulations paper
Yes - Advanced / Standard Regulations paper
Yes - Advanced / Standard Regulations paper
See below for further information about the syllabus for each certificate type. More information may also be found on the WIA website www.wia.org.au
Examination formats and syllabi
The AOCP(A) syllabus and related examination reflects the knowledge, skills and experience required to safely assemble and operate an amateur station at the highest level without interference to other users and services. The AOCP(A) comprises a 50 question multiple choice examination in Theory, a 30 question multiple choice examination in Regulations and a Practical assessment.
The AOCP(S) syllabus and related examination reflects the knowledge, skills and experience required to safely assemble and operate an amateur station at an intermediate level without interference to other users and services. The AOCP(S) comprises a 50 question multiple choice examination in Theory, a 30 question multiple choice examination in Regulations and a Practical assessment.
The AOCP(F) syllabus and related examination reflects the minimum level of knowledge, skills and experiences required to safely assemble and operate an amateur station at an entry level, without interference to other users and services. The AOCP(F) comprises a 25 question multiple choice combined Theory/Regulations examination and a practical assessment.
Re-examination of qualified operators
The ACMA may re-examine a qualified operator if, at any time, it has reasonable grounds for believing that person will probably be unable to achieve satisfactory results in an applicable examination. The ACMA may give to the operator a written request that the operator submit himself or herself to an examination, or a further examination.
The request must set out:
- particulars of the examination in question; and
- the time and place of the examination in question; and
- whether the operator has refused or failed, without reasonable excuse, to comply with a request under the relevant section of the Radiocommunications Act 1992 (the Act).
The examination or further examination referred to above will be conducted by the ACMA.
Appeals and dispute settlement
Where the WIA and a candidate are unable to resolve a dispute in connection with the results of an amateur examination, the WIA will refer the matter to the ACMA. The ACMA may direct the WIA to take whatever action the ACMA considers appropriate.
The WIA should be contacted for more information on the appeals process.
Recognition for prior learning (RPL)
Under certain circumstances, the WIA may grant exemption(s) from one or more subjects in an amateur operator examination if a person holds equivalent, or higher, qualifications covering the appropriate portion of the relevant amateur syllabus. RPL is dependant upon a number of factors, including the type of qualification and the time it was conferred. The WIA will not issue a Certificate of Proficiency on the basis of RPL, unless the candidate has passed at least one part of an approved examination, and ordinarily two parts, namely the practical assessment and the regulations qualification.
Examination candidates should contact the WIA for more information on RPL.
There are no minimum age limits for Amateur Certificates of Proficiency. Australian Amateur Certificates of Proficiency will be issued by the WIA, on application, to any person who demonstrates, at examination, that he or she possesses the necessary knowledge and skills.
If an Amateur Certificate of Proficiency is lost, defaced, destroyed, or a change of name has occurred, the certificate holder may obtain a replacement by making a written application to the WIA.
More information on replacement certificates may be found on the WIA website www.wia.org.au.
The ACMA will issue replacement certificates for those originally issued prior to 2 February 2009, including certificates for the following proficiencies:
- Amateur Operator's Certificate of Proficiency (AOCP);
- Amateur Operator's Limited Certificate of Proficiency (AOLCP);
- Novice Amateur Operator's Certificate of Proficiency (NAOCP); and
- Novice Limited Amateur Operator's Certificate of Proficiency (NLAOCP).
The Amateur licence information paper details Certificates of Proficiency requirements for amateur licensing options.
Cancellation of certificates
Under subsection 124(1) of the Act, ACMA may, by written notice given to a qualified operator, cancel an amateur operator's Certificate of Proficiency. The notice must include the reason for the cancellation. Subsection 124(3) of the Act specifies the matters to which the ACMA must have regard in deciding to cancel a certificate.
Cancellations of Amateur Certificates of Proficiency are reviewable under Part 5.6 of the Act.
Reciprocal licensing arrangements between countries result from comparative assessments of each country's qualifications and licences, and include the establishment of a formal reciprocal licensing agreement. Table A lists the countries with which Australia has reciprocal licensing arrangements and details the overseas qualifications/licences and their Australian equivalents.
Arrangements for participation in European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications (CEPT)
Australia's AOCP, AOLCP and AOCP(A) qualifications are recognised under CEPT Recommendation T/R 61-02 which makes it possible for participating administrations to issue amateur qualifications that are mutually recognised. This is underpinned by a common qualification arrangement known as the Harmonised Amateur Radio Examination Certificate (HAREC).
This benefits Australian amateurs because, by the establishment of the T/R 61-02 agreement with CEPT, other participating countries recognise Australian amateur qualifications, without the need for Australia to establish and maintain bilateral reciprocal licensing arrangements.
From October 2005 until March 2008, while the Advanced examination syllabus was being approved by CEPT, the Amateur Operator's Certificate of Proficiency (Advanced) did not have HAREC endorsement. Replacement certificates with the HAREC endorsement may be obtained from the ACMA or the WIA (depending on the original issue date).
Australia's amateur licence (amateur advanced station) is recognised under CEPT Recommendation T/R 61-01. Amateurs holding that licence may operate in participating CEPT countries during short visits without having to obtain a licence from those countries. Operating conditions are those of the country visited and not those applicable to the amateur licence (amateur advanced station).
Amateur licences (amateur advanced station) issued from 4 June 2008 include an Advisory Note in English, French and German that indicates that the licence accords with the CEPT Recommendation T/R 61-01. Amateurs holding licences without that Advisory Note may apply for a replacement licence.
Other equivalent overseas qualifications
Some overseas qualifications or licences have been recognised by the ACMA as being equivalent to an Australian qualification or licence. Table B lists those countries from which equivalent qualifications or licences have been recognised and details the overseas qualifications/licences and their Australian equivalents.
Circumstances where no equivalent overseas qualifications exist
Australia has implemented licensing arrangements that accommodate overseas amateurs visiting Australia who do not hold a qualification or licence recognised by Australia. It is a matter for individual countries to decide whether an Australian amateur qualification is acceptable for the purpose of operating in that country. Licences, if they are issued, may be issued with conditions.
Further information about amateur licences may be found in the documents entitled Amateur operating procedures and Amateur licence information paper. If you have any additional queries relating to examinations and certification, please contact the WIA:
Wireless Institute of Australia
PO Box 2042
Bayswater VIC 3153
Certificate of proficiency and callsign arrangements
On 28 January 2009, the ACMA contracted the Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA) to issue amateur certificates of proficiency and manage amateur callsigns, in addition to the provision of amateur examinations. The WIA provides these services to the amateur community as the ACMA's authorised delegate.
The WIA also issues callsign recommendations to amateurs wishing to be issued an amateur licence. This includes amateurs who wish to vary their licences (where there is a change in callsign).
Details of the administrative arrangements for examinations and issuing Certificates of Proficiency are set out in the WIA Business Rules for the management of Amateur Examinations, Certificates of Proficiency and Associated Administrative Service - PDF (669 kb).
Further information may be obtained from the WIA via their website www.wia.org.au.
The following pages provide additional information relating to amateur licensing:
- Amateur aparatus licences - Provides a summary of most matters pertaining to amateur licensing in Australia.
- Amateur examinations and certification - Provides a summary of how to become a qualified operator for the purposes of being issued an amateur transmitter licence. Examination and certification services are provided by the WIA, a delegate of the ACMA. Links to the relevant syllabi may also be found on this page.
- Amateur callsigns - The provision of amateur callsigns is managed by the WIA, a delegate of the ACMA. Further information relating to callsigns can be found on the WIA website.
- Operating procedures - Provides a summary of amateur operating practices, including some conditions relevant to the operation of amateur stations in Australia. Links to the legislation governing the operation of amateur stations in Australia may be found on this page.
- Overseas amateurs visiting Australia - Provides a summary of the licensing arrangements pertaining to overseas visitors, including a class licence that authorises operation for up to three months, subject to the conditions of the licence.