The amateur radio exam in Switzerland

On this page you will find some information about the ham radio exam. Please note that we cannot give a guarantee for the information given, so please double-check with the official BAKOM/OFCOM documents. If you have any further questions don’t hesitate to contact us.

What can I do with the exam?

The amateur radio service is subject to regulations. Before being allowed to transmit on the air an exam has to be passed. In Switzerland, the OFCOM (BAKOM in German) is responsible for the amateur radio related issues and the organization of the exam. The exam certificate is also needed to request a personal unique callsign.

Bottom line: Don’t push the “transmit” button before having passed the exam :)

Exam, Callsign, etc… Now which one(s) do I need?

To transmit on the ham radio frequencies, a unique callsign is required. The exam allows requesting a personal callsign at the OFCOM.

However it is also possible to operate a radio without a personal callsign. Members of a radio club (like HB9ZZ), can use the club’s callsign when operating there, even if they don’t have a personal callsign. This makes it much easier to get into ham radio without having to spend money.

The exam is therefore a requirement for transmitting and valid for lifetime.

NB: In some countries, notably the US, a callsign is issued together with the exam certificate.

How expensive is it?

The exam fees are 125 CHF. A personal callsign costs 120 CHF per year, but is not required from the start (see before).

What are the differences in the exam categories?

The small exam (“Einsteigerausweis” in German) allows to request a callsign with HB3 prefix. The full exam (“Fähigkeitenausweis”, CEPT) allows to request an HB9 callsign. Compared to an HB3 callsign the license holder can operate on all amateur radio bands, use up to 1 kW power and build and use its own transceivers. This comes with a larger technical exam.

The holders of the small exam certificate can pass an additional test consisting in the full technical exam in order to upgrade their license to the HB9 level.

How is the exam structured?

The exam is multiple choice and consists of 2 individual parts. The regulatory stuff (20 min) and the technical part (75 min). Both parts have to be passed in order to get the exam certificate. Example questions are available from the OFCOM at http://www.bakom.admin.ch/themen/frequenzen/01576/01578/index.html?lang=de.

If someone does not pass one of the 2 parts, a new attempt can be made within one year.

What languages are available in the exam?

The Swiss exam can be taken in German, French or Italian. The amateur radio related documents are not available in English.

Is the exam accepted abroad?

Yes. Especially in Europe this isn’t much of a problem. When on vacation abroad, the Swiss callsign can often be used (of course with a prefix of the visited country) without any administrative hassle. When moving abroad, the Swiss exam certificate is often accepted to get a local callsign of the equivalent category. More information about this topic can be found in the regulations concerning amateur radio at http://www.bakom.admin.ch/themen/frequenzen/01576/01578/index.html?lang=de.

Where can I take the exam?

The best opportunity is probably right after our Fall term ham radio course each January at ETH. The OFCOM also has exam sessions all over the year in Biel: www.bakom.admin.ch/themen/frequenzen/01576/01578/03383/index.html?lang=de.