Amateur Radio License Plates

You studied.

Your forked over $13 to take the test (some VEs charge nothing… shop around). Perhaps you forked over another $13 for another chance… It happens.


You finally passed your amateur radio exam and you are off to the nearest candy store to get your first mobile.

Hey, congratulations… you deserve it.

After you get your mobile all set up in your vehicle you might be eager to head down to the local DMV to secure your very own call sign license plate. Before proceeding any further check out the ARRL web page summarizing each state’s rules on this.

OK great you have read the web page. Do you live in a state that requires you to maintain two-way radio equipment in your vehicle as a condition of having those plates? If you do, you might re-assess why you want these plates in the first place. Even if you don’t you should exercise restraint and read these…

Reasons to not get amateur radio plates:
  • The requirement to have two-way equipment in your car whether you always want it in there or not.
  • You and your car are spectacularly easy to identify as anyone can look up your call sign on the many call sign look up web sites. At least your long random plate number can only, I hope, be resolved to your name and address by police in most circumstances.
  • Your plates identify to would be thieves expensive, removable, equipment is inside your vehicle. However, I do admit ham gear is not as liquid as, say, GPS units. Thieves may initially not know the difference and take it anyway.

Still want the plates? That’s fine. Let’s examine some good reasons to have them…

  • You reach General and put HF mobile in your car. Any decent HF mobile antenna system looks lovely to us, but looks weird and maybe even nefarious to others. Your ham plates may reassure the suspicious you really aren’t some bumbling terrorist.
  • You volunteer frequently at some event that utilizes amateur radio. This is rare these days.
  • You want others to know you are an amateur radio operator…?

Perhaps you just want them for no reason at all. It is a free country, for the moment anyway, so go for it if you want to.

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