Australian Amateur Radio in 2024

Welcome to the 21st Century. The administration of amateur radio in Australia has just gone through a massive change. It’s been as big a paperwork change that should be compared to the technological change from valves to transistors. First, a summery of what life was like before 2024. In that era an amateur operator required QUALIFICATIONS that allowed them to obtain a LICENCE to operate an amateur radio station with a CALLSIGN. The differences between these three elements were subtle and misunderstood. Those three elements still exist today.

Let’s go through their 2024 versions one by one.


Newcomers usually usually obtain their qualifications via an ACMA controlled assessment / exam process. It’s a reasonable process and we’ll explain it elsewhere along with education and assessment services provided by SARC. As at June 2024; ACMA assessments carried out by ACMA approved volunteer assessors are free.

There are rules covering existing amateur Australian radio operators. Operators with foreign amateur radio qualifications and others with qualifications that have not yet been assessed as being the equivalent an amateur radio qualification. Those rules are basically unchanged.


Amateur radio in Australia now operates on what is called a “Class Licence”. Currently, individual amateur radio operators don’t have individual licences. In the past each amateur radio station had an individual station licence. From the licensing point of view, amateur radio stations were dealt with in a similar manner to broadcast AM or FM radio and Television. Different licences with different rules and fees but still individual licences. In 2024 there is one amateur radio licence and it is held by by the Australian Government. There are many other types of class licence including CB. Pedantically and contrary to many individuals; CB is a licensed service. It’s just that, as a class licence, individual CB operators don’t have individual licences. CB is totally different to amateur radio. Hugely different rules and regulations, but they both operate under their own class licences.

As at June 2024 normal Australian amateur radio operators do not pay a licence fee.


The conditions for operating an amateur radio station in Australia include the mandatory use of a calllsign allocated by the ACMA. There are rules governing the allocation of a callsign and its use. As at June 2024 the allocation of an ACMA callsign attracts a once only fee.

What do I need to do?

Most people without some background in electronics or radio will start at the Foundation level. The knowledge and skills are at a basic level that anyone with a reasonable level of school education should be able to manage.

The usual, and recommended approach is to combine home study with a short course.

When you think you are ready, you sit for the assessment. Your completed exam paper and other documents are then sent away and you wait to find out the result. SARC can provide just the assessment, or a combined short course with assessment at the end.

What will it cost?

 There are certain set fees and charges involved. The ACMA administers amateur licensing and assessment and they set the compulsory fees. You can see the rates on their website here –

SARC charges a fee of $30 for the Foundation course, and $50 for the Standard and Advanced courses. This is to help cover costs we incur. Candidates may also make a donation to the club’s education fund.

What resources do I need for my home study?

There is a huge amount of amateur radio educational material available on the internet and it can be hard to know what to look for. It’s important to find material that will help you with the Australian exams, so we have provided a listing on our resources page here –

What is the syllabus?

The syllabus sets out the knowledge and skills that you will be assessed on. At first sight, it looks quite daunting, but the Foundation level is straightforward and not highly technical. Remember that the theory assessment is multiple choice, 4 choices each question, with a 70% pass mark. If you do the study, your chances are very good.

If you do one of our courses, SARC education can help with any areas that you might find challenging.

Links to the each syllabus for the 3 licence levels can be found here on the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) website. Simply click on the link that appears.