Technician, General, Amateur Extra are the license classes for which new licenses are currently available from the FCC. (T1C13) You may operate a transmitter on an amateur service frequency after you pass the examination required for your first amateur radio license as soon as your name and call sign appear in the FCC’s ULS database (T1C10). Ten years is the normal term for an FCC-issued primary station/operator amateur radiolicense grant (T1C08).
When the FCC issues an amateur radio operator license, it also issues a station license. The call sign of that station consists of one or two letters, followed by a number and then one, two, or three letters. W3ABC is an example of a valid US amateur radio station call sign (T1C02).
After you pass the test, the FCC will assign you a call sign sequentially from the pool of available call signs. If you do not like this callsign, you can apply for a vanity callsign. Any licensed amateur may select a desired call sign under the vanity call sign rules. (T1C12)
The callsign you select must not only be available, it must have an appropriate format for the class of license you hold. Extra class licensees are the only ones who may hold 1×2 or 2×1 callsigns. K1XXX is, therefore, is a vanity call sign which a Technician class amateur operator might select if available. (T1C05) A Technician class amateur radio operator may not choose the callsigns KA1X or W1XX.
Two years is the grace period following the expiration of an amateur license within which the license may be renewed. (T1C09) If you don’t renew your license before it expires, or within the two-year grace period, you will have to take the test again to get a new amateur radio license. If your license has expired and is still within the allowable grace period, transmitting is not allowed until the ULS database shows that the license has been renewed (T1C11).
Amateurs that set up stations at special events, such as a community fair or fundraising event, can request a special callsign specifically for that event. A special event call sign is the type of call sign that has a single letter in both the prefix and suffix (T1C01). An example of a special event callsign is W8P.
Clubs may apply for a station license for their club station. The club may even apply for a vanity call sign. At least 4 persons are required to be members of a club for a club station license to be issued by the FCC. (T1F12) Only the person named as trustee on the club station license grant may select a vanity call sign for a club station. (T1C14)
When you get your first license, you must give the examiners a mailing address. Should you move, you must inform the FCC of your new mailing address. Revocation of the station license or suspension of the operator license may result when correspondence from the FCC is returned as undeliverable because the grantee failed to provide the correct mailing address (T1C07).
You are allowed to operate your amateur station in a foreign country when the foreign country authorizes it (T1C04). Sometimes countries have reciprocal licensing agreements, and you can operate from that country without any specific authorization. For example, I could operate my station in Germany by simply using the callsign DL/KB6NU. There are restrictions on your operating privileges, depending on the country from which you plan to operate, and you should investigate these before you get on the air.
You can also operate your station while aboard a ship in international waters. An FCC- licensed amateur station may transmit from any vessel or craft located in international waters and documented or registered in the United States, in addition to places where the FCC regulates communications (T1C06).