The Radiocommunications Regulations
Establishing and Operating an Amateur Radio Station in New Zealand
(You should note the importance of this section SEVEN questions are asked - nearly 12% of the examination)
If this is your first time at this page, please scroll down and read all the information in this file below to get an overview.
Introduction And Overview
There are TWO important documents. These are:
1. A General User Radio Licence for Amateur Radio Operators. It can be viewed by anyone at an official government website and downloaded and printed.
(This G U R L permits the holder of a General Amateur Operators Certificate of Competency to operate an amateur radio station in New Zealand. This G U R L lists terms, conditions and restrictions, including a schedule of the amateur radio frequency bands.)
2. The General Amateur Operators Certificate of Competency. Amateur Radio Operators are qualified persons, they have each passed a written examination and each is the holder of an individual Certificate of Competency.
(Each operator's name, address and other information is entered and held in an official on-line database. The Certificate is downloaded and printed from this database and is kept in the possession of the individual operator.)
Each Certificate of Competency names the operator and lists an individual and unique callsign, unique to that individual operator. The callsign listed on the Certificate is used on-air by the named operator to identify that particular station.
You must know and understand more about: 1. the G U R L, and 2. the Certificate of Competency and callsigns.
The GURL: Here is the exact official version: Amateur Radio GURL
Here is the same document text, but laid out to make it easier to read and to study. Expanded GURL Print it and STUDY IT. It contains many issues that appear in examination questions.
The Certificate Of Competency
The Amateur Radio database records are held by the Ministry of Economic Development, Radio Spectrum Management Group's SMART - Spectrum Management And Registration Technology.
SMART is accessible on-line by anyone for viewing callsign and other information about a certificate holder.
With the aid of a supplied confidential Client Key and a Password, each amateur operator, i.e. each certificate and callsign holder, has live access to the personal contact details in the database and is required to keep the address and other contact details up-to-date.
If you don't have the facilities to do this on-line, an ARX (Approved Radio Examiner) can do it for you. An ARX is a person authorised to make new entries to the database for candidates who pass the Amateur Radio Examination and among other things, to arrange callsigns for newly-qualified amateurs.
The NZART Examinations Coordinator and General Secretary has ARX privileges and can attend to these matters for you.
There is a fee involved to cover the costs of these administrative services.
The Amateur Radio Examination requires a knowledge of the relevant national and international regulations, with an understanding of some basic radio theory and some radio operating knowledge. All of this is covered in this Study Guide.
This Regulations Page is to make you familiar with the Regulations that you need to know. As a radio amateur you need to be aware of many regulatory things and know where to find them in the various documents!
Operating a radio transmitter in the crowded radio frequency spectrum requires a good understanding of
what you are permitted to do,
what you are required to do, and
what you MUST NOT do.
There are many privileges and responsibilities to being a radio amateur:
Radio amateurs are not constrained to any fixed frequencies but may operate on frequencies of their own choosing within the frequency bands allocated to amateur radio distributed throughout the radio frequency spectrum.
Radio amateurs may use communication modes of their own choosing.
The equipment used by radio amateurs need not be type-approved like the equipment used by most other radio services.
Radio amateurs can construct and operate their own equipment on any of the many radio frequency bands.
Here is a two-page Regulations Summary Question-sheet aide-memoire (Print it double-sided.)
The TWO Radio Regulations
There are two Radio Regulations documents - the International Radio Regulations and our New Zealand Radio Regulations. You are expected to have an understanding of both of them. It is not necessary to learn them off in parrot-fashion! The important parts are here:
1. Extracts From The International Radio Regulations
2. Extracts From The New Zealand Radio Regulations
Here is Schedule 1 from the New Zealand Radiocommunications Regulations 2001.
Unfortunately all Regulatory documents seem to contain unnecessary words! To help your understanding, read the yellow highlighted words in this version of Schedule 1 and ignore all the other words.
(Note the reference to the International Radio Regulations in 1 and 2 of Schedule 1 to the NZ Regulations.)
Both the International and the New Zealand Radio Regulations give authority for the issuing of radio licences - but we don't need to go looking to find the exact regulations or to study their words.
Two important Amateur Radio definitions taken from the International Radio Regulations are:
1.56 amateur service: A radiocommunication service for the purpose of self-training, intercommunication and technical investigations carried out by amateurs, that is, by duly authorized persons interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest.
1.57 amateur-satellite service: A radiocommunication service using space stations on earth satellites for the same purposes as those of the amateur service.
Look at Question 1 in the list of Questions: List of Questions
Re-read the definition of the Amateur Service in 1.56 above. You're progressing.
Far more information than is required for the examination is given on this Regulations page. This regulatory information is for background and for reference purposes.
Don't be put off by anything that may appear complicated! You will find that it all does fit together!
(For reference purposes: The New Zealand Radiocommunications Regulations 2001 and the Radiocommunications Act can be found at http://www.legislation.govt.nz. For amateur radio study purposes, the Radiocommunications ACT can be ignored.)
You should know about these INTERNATIONAL and LOCAL organisations
The international organisations are:
The New Zealand organisation for Radio Amateurs is
For regulatory purposes, the International Radio Regulations divide the world into three Regions. See the Map
Region 1 covers Europe, the old USSR areas, and all of Africa,
Region 2 is North and South America.
Region 3 is the rest of the world, including New Zealand.
The radio frequency allocations can differ between the three regions - but that does not concern your studies for this amateur radio examination.
How Does All This Fit Together?
Every two years or so, the ITU holds an international conference, at which the International Radio Regulations and other documents are discussed and modified. New Zealand is represented at these conferences by a delegation led by the New Zealand Ministry of Economic Development (MED), Radio Spectrum Management Group (RSM). An NZART member may sometimes be a part of the New Zealand Delegation to represent the Amateur Service. The MED RSM is the New Zealand Administration.
Each IARU Region holds a conference every three years and these are arranged in sequence, so there is a regional amateur radio conference held each year in one of the three regions. The 13th IARU Region 3 Conference was held in Bangalore in 2006. NZART has sent a delegation to all previous IARU Region 3 conferences and takes an active and leading part.
National Radio Regulations
Countries set additional local licensing conditions for their radio amateurs. These differ greatly in detail, but all should conform to the International Radio Regulations.
As stated earlier, the current document is the New Zealand Radiocommunications Regulations 2001. Those Regulations set many things a licence-holder must observe. Many of these are considered below.
How Do I Get An Amateur Radio Qualification?
So, how do I get started?
If you require assistance with your studies, or wish to attend a class, or when you are ready for an examination, you should contact your local NZART Branch or the Examination Supervisors in the local Branch.
You can obtain assistance from NZART Headquarters too. The NZART General Secretary is also the NZART Examination Coordinator and is also an Approved Radio Examiner (ARX) - approved by the Ministry of Economic Development, Radio Spectrum Management Group. The ARX will be pleased to provide any further information you may require.
A General Amateur Operators Certificate of Competency, in your name, with a callsign, is granted after passing a written examination.
This diagram shows the sequence to follow to obtain the amateur radio qualification:
NZART provides an examination service. There is a fee involved at various stages. These fees are to cover administrative costs and are usually once-only. Please refer to Fees Please read that document to learn about the administrative and procedure arrangements.
Your certificate is emailed to you as a part of the entering of your information into the official database. The certificate is printed and kept by you as your authority to operate with the listed callsign.
The Examination Process
(In New Zealand there is only one amateur radio examination and one grade of licence. Some countries have several examinations that must be attempted and passed in sequence - with several grades of licence too.)
The written examination comprises 60 multiple-choice questions covering Regulations and Theory in a single two-hour examination. This is conducted by appointment and held at a mutually-agreed place and time by volunteer Examination Supervisors from designated NZART Branches. Syllabus
The written test is computer-generated using questions the computer carefully selects from a 600-question public-domain question-bank. This STUDY GUIDE contains ALL those questions and some Sample Test Papers for you to try! A booklet with all the questions in the question-bank can be downloaded from the NZART website or a printed copy can be purchased from NZART.
The question-bank is the intellectual property of NZART and can only be used within NZART systems and procedures to ensure the integrity of the examination process is maintained.
A pass requires 40 correct answers. Your result is given to you on the spot. A successful Examination Result Notification (ERN) is recognised by the MED RSM for certificate/callsign application purposes. An ARX can enter the results of a successful candidate into SMART and set up another client radio amateur.
Variations To The Established Examining Process
The Radiocommunications Regulations 2001 Section 28 (2) provides, at the MED Chief Executive's discretion, for variation to the manner in which an examination is carried out. If there is need to vary the examination process for a candidate with a particular disability, the local Examination Supervisors should ensure the candidate is fully aware of the established exam procedure and is encouraged to state a preferred variation to the examination procedure as determined by personal circumstances. The Supervisors should approach the MED RSM Head Office with a recommendation for a variation to the examining process and obtain approval for that variation before the examination takes place. The Ministry will deal with each case as it arises and sees referral by a medical expert and use of a neutral reader/writer as its preferred option.
Receiving A Certificate
An Examination Result Notification (ERN) is issued on-the-spot after each examination supervised by NZART Examination Supervisors. A successful ERN is recognised for certificate-application purposes. The Certificate of Competency is emailed after the ARX has successfully put the entries into SMART.
You can feel really proud and hang a certificate on your wall to recognise your achievement.
You have a qualification that has international recognition.
The ARX will set up your callsign at the time when your personal and examination result details are first entered into SMART.
The arrangements and the format for the ARX to follow when generating an amateur radio callsign are given in the Ministry's public information brochure Approved Radio Examiners (ARX) Manual - Radio Operator Certificate and Callsign Rules document PIB46. This Brochure is to be available from the Ministry of Economic Development, Radio Spectrum Management Group.
More can be learned about callsigns by investigating the MED RSM website and by checking existing and yet-to-be-allocated callsigns using the SMART on-line facility.
Find some not-yet-allocated ones! Your callsign selections should fit the regular broad patterns: ZL1, ZL2, ZL3 or ZL4, with a two-or-three-letter suffix.
It is recommended that you provide your choice of three callsign selections, in priority order, to the ARX with your ERN and Radio4A form, all completed and legible, at the time you make application to be come a radio amateur. Note the procedure and the fees.
Use the SMART button at http://www.rsm.govt.nz/cms to reach the SMART facility.
An operator can request the address to be withheld for privacy reasons - but remember that some stations worked prefer to post their QSL cards direct to you and will require your address. Let your address be seen.
Applications For A New Callsign
Candidates wishing to sit the amateur radio examination are requested to present a passport photo ID complete with a witness' signature confirming the identity of the candidate. For a successful candidate, this will later be placed electronically on the Certificate of Competency.
Application form Radio 4A must be completed by the applicant and sent together with the passport photo ID and the blue ERN (Exam Result Notification) form to the NZART Examination Coordinator. The NZART Examination Coordinator has ARX privileges -- a Ministry of Economic Development, Radio Spectrum Management, (MED RSM) Approved Radio Examiner.
Form Radio 4A can be found here
Please ensure that ALL the information entered on these forms is accurate, clear and READABLE!
Where an e-mail address is provided by the candidate, upon completion by the ARX of processing a new amateur's details on-line in SMART (RSM's Spectrum Management and Registration Technology), a copy of the certificate will be sent direct to the candidate by e-mail.
If all the information above is not provided at the processing time, or if the information provided is illegible, the application will be delayed and a callsign cannot be issued.
Existing Callsign Holders
In November 2005 existing callsign holders received a special Client ID and password from the RSM Office giving on-line access to their records in the Ministry's new SMART system.
The callsign holder can make change-of-address, amend other contact details and request a replacement certificate on-line. There are no fees to access your own information or to make any amendments yourself. A hard-copy certificate, in colour on card, can be requested posted from the NZART Examination Coordinator (ARX) for a fee.
NOTE: You are required by the Radio Regulations to make updating changes to your permanent address within 7 days or get an ARX to do it for you.
Should your Client ID and password have been misplaced, reactivate it by contacting the RSM Processing Centre in Christchurch, Freephone: 0508 776 463.
Amateur Radio Operating Conditions
The amateur radio qualification does not permit operation for commercial or business purposes, or for pecuniary gain (i.e. for making money). (See the definition of the Amateur Service given above.)
A General Amateur Operators Certificate of Competency entitles the holder to operate transmitters in the bands of frequencies designated for amateur radio use in the GURL. ( See the Frequencies detail in this Study Guide too).
Please note that the GURL and the Certificate do not specify any transmission mode to be used on any amateur band. That is the licensee's choice. (Note too the details about Band-planning discussed below.)
Note that radio amateurs are permitted to use the designated industrial, scientific and medical (ISM) band at 27.12 MHz for telecontrol and telemetry operation only. It is not an amateur band but all amateurs are permitted to use it.
Amateur stations may communicate with other amateur stations only. Amateurs may not communicate with commercial or other stations operating legally or illegally either inside or outside the designated amateur bands.
The only exception to this is under emergency conditions. This approval is specified in the International Radio Regulations (see RR 4.9). If safety of human life is at risk, communication on any frequency by anyone is permitted. Very occasionally a distress call has been received by an amateur operator. If no official station replies, an amateur may make contact and should also immediately alert the NZ Police. If an official station does reply, all other stations are obliged to clear the frequency.
All Amateurs must comply with the conditions permitted by the licence. A visiting amateur should use his own callsign if in control of a station visited. If the owner is present and in control, it is permitted to use the owner's callsign.
Regulatory information undergoes frequent revision and circumstances change, so you are advised to check the MED RSM web site from time-to-time to check for later versions of the GURL and documents. http://www.rsm.govt.nz/cms.
The MED RSM will give sympathetic consideration to requests for reasoned variation to individual amateur operating conditions. An example is the temporary use of higher-power for moon-bounce experiments.
Other Important Points
There is no upper or lower age limit.
Your certificate can be inspected by an authorised officer from the MED at any time.
If you change your residential address, you must change your contact information on the Ministry's database within 7 days. If you cannot do this yourself, ask an ARX to do it for you.
To replace your lost certificate, you yourself can download or get a new one downloaded by an ARX from the MED RSM's SMART.
All amateur stations, regardless of the mode of transmission used, must be equipped with a reliable means for determining the operating radio frequency.
You must announce your callsign at least once in 15 minutes when operating.
It is important to note that radio amateurs are not broadcasters. The transmission of music and entertainment by radio amateurs is not permitted. There is a separate ITU definition for broadcasters: Broadcasting Service: A radiocommunication service in which the transmissions are intended for direct reception by the general public ... etc. You are not permitted to make broadcasts.
When First On The Air
On receiving your certificate and callsign you are permitted to operate on the bands below 5 MHz and on the bands above 25 MHz. After experiencing three months of practical operating and with 50 or more contacts in your log book, you are then permitted to operate on all the amateur bands. You must keep the log book and produce it on request. See paragraph 3(3) in the GURL.
You are required to keep a station log book to log at least 50 contacts when you are first qualified. This is the only regulatory requirement for a log book. However, it is recommended that radio amateurs keep a log book for at least two important reasons:
First, it is a record of your operating and may be a useful record and protection for when a neighbour reports interference to broadcast or television reception. Were you actually operating at the time claimed?
Second, it is an important document for amateur radio contests and awards - and for keeping track of each QSO and its QSL card actions, noting the cards sent and the cards received.
A suitable station log book with columns for the appropriate entries can be purchased from NZART. ORDER FORM Contact: NZART Headquarters, P.O. Box 40-525, Upper Hutt, fax: 04 528 2173, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Going to the NZART Booklist you can find a log sheet in PDF format and you can print your own.
Third Party Traffic
Other people (third parties) may pass brief personal messages using an amateur's station only if the owner/operator is present and in control of the station. They should not manipulate the transmitting controls of the station. Under no circumstances may an unqualified person operate an amateur's station. To assist you, NZART has developed: Guidelines to Third Party Traffic
New Zealand permits third party traffic with any other country. But BEWARE! Other countries may not be permitted to handle third party traffic with you. Many countries have country-to-country diplomatic agreements for amateur radio third-party traffic. New Zealand is not a party to any such agreement. This situation can only be changed by the other country, it is not New Zealand's problem. So make sure that the station you work is permitted to handle third-party traffic with you before doing so. Don't put your certificate or the certificate/licence of the distant station at risk.
The internet is now frequently used for station linking. Be sure that unlicensed persons cannot get access to amateur radio spectrum. To assist you, NZART has developed Guidelines to The Internet and Amateur Radio
Mobile And Portable Operating
A separate licence/qualification and callsign is not necessary when operating mobile or when operating portable. Use your home station callsign and call/P or call/M when using CW and callsign Mobile, or callsign Portable when away from home for short periods.
No Secret Codes
Amateur radio communication is NOT permitted to use secret codes at any time. Encryption of messages for the purpose of hiding the contents from other amateurs or listeners is illegal.
The only exception is for licensees of repeaters and beacon stations and for satellites to carry out control functions. A different licence is issued for a repeater station and for a beacon station. Establishing a repeater or beacon station is not permitted under the amateur operator GURL.
Some modes (for example packet radio and PSK31) do use forms of encryption, but these are legal because the decoding protocols are public knowledge and can in principle be decoded by other amateurs and by monitoring stations. The Q-Code is public knowledge!
Overseas radio amateurs visiting New Zealand
The amateur radio GURL provides for overseas radio amateurs who intend to visit and to operate their own station in New Zealand.
Refer to the appropriate page on the MED RSM web site for information
The location for the above link is http://www.rsm.govt.nz/cms/pdf-library/licensing/gurl-amateur.pdf. Search fot gurl-amateur should you find the link broken or not available.
In effect, the overseas visitor can walk down the gangplank and commence operating immediately upon arrival in New Zealand! A General User Radio Licence (GURL) is a licence that provides for a given class of radio transmitter to be used without requiring a licence in the owner's own name.
(A knowledge of the documents referred to in the GURL para 4 (1) is not necessary for the New Zealand Amateur Radio Examination but are provided here for reference
New Zealand Radio Amateurs Travelling Overseas
New Zealand amateur radio qualifications are widely recognised overseas. Reciprocal licensing agreements of several different kinds exist between New Zealand and many other countries.
New Zealand operators who are contemplating travelling overseas are advised to contact the NZART Reciprocal Licensing Bureau, (an NZART Service), for up-to-date information about using the New Zealand qualification overseas or getting a local licence to operate in other countries. There are different systems in place in different countries. Contact: NZART Headquarters, P.O. Box 40-525, Upper Hutt or e-mail to email@example.com.
If a Morse code test pass is required for a reciprocal licence, a Morse test can be arranged with NZART Morse Testers. Arrange through NZART Headquarters.
Overseas regulatory arrangements and requirements are always changing so an early enquiry before travel would be wise. The web pages of some overseas administrations may give the information and the procedures required. See also:
Harmful interference is defined in the International Radio Regulations (See RR 1.169).In short, it is any radiation or emission which seriously obstructs or repeatedly interrupts other licensed radio services.
Amateurs are not permitted to block or to interfere with another amateur's transmissions. Such deliberate transmissions would create malicious interference.
Television interference (TVI) caused to neighbours is not necessarily harmful interference if the amateur is transmitting signals free from spurious radiation within the terms of the GURL. This is discussed in detail in Interference and Filtering.
It is correct operating practice to check that the frequency you propose to use is free from other users BEFORE you transmit. See General Operating Procedures
The GURL in para 5 (9) refers to unwanted emissions. Here is the document it refers to ETS 300 684
The important points are on page 6 (where it refers to commercial amateur equipment only) and on page 23 (where levels of measurement are given).
The GURL makes it clear that these measurements refer to all unwanted transmissions from amateur gear that fall outside amateur bands. This is encouragement for home-constructors of transmitting equipment. The view taken is that what amateurs do within their own bands is their own problem and for them to fix. Keep your transmissions clean!
Transmitter Power Output
The GURL in para 5 (5) states that the radio frequency power output shall not exceed 500 watt peak envelope power (PEP). The definition 1.157 is in the International Radio Regulations.
The technicalities of this matter are considered elsewhere in this Study Guide. Transmitter Theory.
At all times amateurs are required to use the minimum power and minimum bandwidth necessary to ensure satisfactory service.
A knowledge of the frequency bands between 130 kHz and 440 MHz is required for the examination. These bands are discussed in this Study Guide in Frequencies
Sharing Of Bands
Amateurs share some frequency bands with stations of other services. Full details about sharing are provided in the International Radio Regulations but only the general principles of sharing and the bands involved are needed for this examination.
Several Notes to the Amateur Frequency Allocation Chart (in the GURL), explain the use by amateur stations of the shared bands. See Notes 2 and 3 to the Table.
Favourable access by radio amateurs to some bands used by other radio services has been given by the regulatory authorities. It is very important that these arrangements be respected so they can continue. The golden rule is: Don't cause any interference to any other stations.
As an amateur station licensee, you have frequency agility, you can change your operating frequency to avoid other stations. Other services are usually licensed for one assigned frequency only and cannot shift.
Additional Note Regarding Other Bands
The band 50 to 54 MHz is shown in the International Radio Regulations as AMATEUR but in New Zealand, only 51 to 53 MHz is available. Because the band 50 - 51 MHz is used by commercial television in New Zealand, a special permit is required and may be available from MED RSM for amateur stations wishing to operate there. Special conditions apply. (Permits can usually only be considered for amateur stations located outside the coverage areas of 44 to 51 MHz television stations.)
Two spot frequencies near 5 MHz are available for use by the Amateur Radio Emergency Communications (AREC). Special conditions apply.
Access to the band 614 to 622 MHz for Amateur Television (ATV) repeater use and for other purposes has special conditions which are administered by FMTAG.
Amateur Radio Bandplanning And Frequency Coordination
NZART has set up a group called FMTAG, the NZART Frequency Management and Technical Advisory Group, to coordinate the use of the amateur radio bands in New Zealand. This is a group of volunteers who advise the NZART Council on technical matters, including those relating to the frequencies to be used for VHF/UHF repeaters and beacons.
The MED RSM Amateur Frequency Allocation Chart (in the GURL) sets down the bands to which a radio amateur has access. How radio amateurs can best organise themselves for operations within those bands is notified by the Bandplans which are published from time-to-time by NZART, usually in the NZART Annual CallBook.
A letter from the New Zealand Administration, the NZ Post Office at that time and published in Break-In, July 1983, pages 2, 3 and 4, made radio amateurs responsible for their own band-planning. FMTAG is the NZART response for this national task.
The bandplans are to ensure that your operations do not impose problems on other operators and that their operations do not impact on you. It is to the mutual advantage of all operators that the published bandplan provisions be respected.
Please note that all radio amateurs have equal rights to use amateur radio frequencies. This means that courtesy in operating must prevail. Refer to General Operating Procedures
Compliance And Enforcement
The enforcement for non-compliance with, or breaching of, any regulatory condition is a clear Ministry function. There is no question about this - it is a statutory function. The Ministry has compliance auditing and enforcement arrangements in place, active and being strengthened.
You have worked hard to obtain your AMATEUR RADIO QUALIFICATION. Value it. Don't put it at risk. Be aware of the conditions and restrictions under which you can operate. By world standards these are very liberal. Respect them at all times.
Amateur Radio - A Summary
As already explained above, all radio amateurs must hold a General Amateur Operators Certificate of Competency to operate in the frequency bands and under the terms and conditions given in the General User Radio Licence for Amateur Radio Operators and must observe the requirements of the international and national regulations.
Read, re-read, revise, look at the question lists! Keep up-to-date with any changes too!