If you are a new ham (or an aspiring one) you have probably noticed Radio Operator license plates (tags) on vehicles in your area and perhaps elsewhere.
According to a Wikipedia topic, “All U.S. states offer specialized license plates for licensed amateur radio operators, in many cases at no extra charge or at a discount compared to standard vanity plates. Among the stated reasons in various state statutes for providing special amateur radio plates are to recognize amateur radio operators for their service, and to enhance visibility of amateur radio operators in an emergency. The owner’s radio call sign is used instead of a standard-issue serial.”
In addition to the USA, many other countries also issue specialty vehicle registration plates to licensed amateur radio operators, purportedly to facilitate their movement during an emergency. Notably, ham plates are not issued in continental Europe; please advise if this is incorrect or has changed. One commenter from the UK has reported that they are available but expensive there.
Before you elect to get ham radio license plates for your own vehicle(s), consider the pros and cons of having them.
There are several advantages in having radio operator plates on your vehicle:
- A fun form of specialty plate and the number is easy to remember (your call sign)
- Helps other hams identify you
- Opportunity to discuss amateur radio with a curious public
- Possibly give you more credibility when driving into a disaster area
- Likely at lower-cost than any other form of vanity plate
And some disadvantages:
- Makes it easier for the public to locate you if they want to, if you are sensitive to this issue (alternative is to give the government a PO box instead of a street address)
- Negative publicity for ham radio if you are a bad driver
- Potentially makes vehicle contents more attractive to thieves
- You need to get new plates if you change your call sign
Interestingly, in Texas and at least three other US states, radio amateurs are permitted to have their call sign on the license plates of multiple vehicles that they own, in effect Continue reading