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Foundation Licence

The Foundation Licence

Your Entry Into Amateur Radio

The hobby of Amateur Radio has a long and proud tradition that is worth knowing. It began with experimenters dabbling in the then scientific oddity of wireless, went through the broadcasting era of the 1920s, and grew strongly after WWII. The people involved in it became the mainstay of technical professions and developed much of the technology we use today.

A lot has changed in Amateur Radio, but it is even more relevant and accessible than ever before.

Sir Henry Jackson - Radio Pioneer

Things You Will Need To Know

The emphasis is now on those wanting to enjoy Amateur Radio, to have the knowledge and skills to demonstrate a practical ability to put together a station from commercial equipment, and operate it safely, competently and without causing interference to other users of the radio spectrum.

The aim of the Foundation Licence is to be a stepping stone or entry point, giving you a real taste of Amateur Radio and the fun it provides.

In summary you will learn the how Amateur Radio relates to other users of the radio spectrum, licence conditions, technical basics of electricity and electronics, transmitters, receivers, feedlines and antennas, propagation, electromagnetic compatibility (EMC), and electromagnetic radiation (EMR).


Radio Bands You Can Use

The Foundation Licence can operate in the bands listed below using the modes listed in the right hand column. Use of commercially manufactured transmitting equipment only is allowed.

Radio band


Permitted Emission Modes
80 Metres 3.500 MHz - 3.700 MHz

Amplitude Modulation (AM) voice
Single Side Band (SSB) voice
Hand Keyed Morse Code

40 Metres 7.0 00 MHz - 7.300 MHz
15 Metres 21.000 MHz - 21.450 MHz
10 Metres 28.000 MHz - 29.700 MHz Amplitude Modulation (AM) voice
Single Side Band (SSB) voice
Hand Keyed Morse Code
Frequency Modulation (FM) voice
2 Metres 144 MHz - 148 MHz
70 Centimetres 430 MHz - 450 MHz


Distances You Can Work

Radio band

Distance & Coverage

3.5MHz (80 metres) Typically up to 150KM during the day and up to 3000KM at night.
7MHz (40 metres) Typically up to 1000KM during the day and during good conditions world wide at night.
21 MHz (15 metres) World wide mostly during the day.
28 MHz (10 metres) World wide during periods of high sunspot activity and up to 3000km in summer.
144MHz (2 metres) Local coverage and world wide via "IRLP" and EchoLink.
432MHz (70cm)  Local coverage, over 2000 km using something known as tropospheric ducting and world wide via "IRLP" and EchoLink.  


The Foundation Manual

The WIA Foundation Licence Manual is a book containing relevant information for those studying for a licence. Because it is so easy to read and understand, has also become a reference book on lots of common topics.

The manual has all the relevant information you will need to successfully complete a training course to obtain a Foundation Licence. It also contains a wealth of information all radio amateurs need, like understanding Band Plans, electrical safety, operating procedures, how to contact a local radio club, the WIA and much more.

The Foundation Licence Manual - Your Entry Into Amateur Radio – is available from several sources. It can be purchased by clicking Foundation Manual on the left hand menu bar of this webpage, from the WIA office in Melbourne, via many radio clubs, and many equipment suppliers. The price is $34.50 plus postage, WIA members can purchase the Foundation Manual at the special members price of $24.50 plus postage.

Radio Clubs And Training Courses

A popular way to learn more about Amateur Radio is to attend interesting lectures often held by knowledgeable radio amateurs. There are over 70 radio clubs with training courses for the Foundation Licence, and these are usually combined with an assessment session at the end. Some training courses are held over several weeknights, while most are on a weekend.

Contact details for radio clubs offering training and assessments can be found here on this website.



Assessments And Licence

Each volunteer WIA Assessor has been trained and qualified by the WIA Exam Service. To be eligible for an Amateur Radio licence you need to demonstrate the necessary knowledge by being competent. In the case of the Foundation Licence this is by a 25 question multiple choice assessment paper, and a hands-on practical assessment. If you are doing a training course, or studying on your own, the following link will put you in touch with clubs and assessors to organise assessment.

The practical assessment is also required for Standard and Advanced licence grades. In fact all radio amateurs obtaining a licence need a practical assessment, but it only needs to be completed once. Get it with a Foundation Licence, and it will carry on should you wish to upgrade. If you join Join the hobby at the Standard or Advanced level, you will also need a practical assessment. If you are an existing radio amateur at the Standard level who was licensed before the practical requirement was introduced and wish to upgrade to the Advanced level, then a practical assessment is needed to complete that qualification.

It can normally take about 6 weeks after the assessments before the ACMA issues a licence. You may begin transmitting when notified, which means that your name and callsign is on the ACMA licence register

Fees And Charges

Any fees or charges associated with Foundation Licence training are up to the radio clubs but are generally inexpensive.

The WIA charge for a Foundation Licence assessment which includes the written and practical tests, is $70, or $35.00 if you are under the age of 18. The Foundation Licence is issued by ACMA and currently costs $78 for an initial licence and a renewal fee of $53 per annum after that. (The ACMA usually revises its fees each year on June 30).

Remote And Special Needs Assessments

The WIA can conduct remote assessments for those people who live a long distance from a radio club or an assessor. A specially trained assessor will be able to conduct the assessment (via the phone). The remote candidate will need to be in the presence of a person, such as a local policeman or school headmaster.

The WIA makes provision for people with a disability, identified by a written report from a medical practitioner, through assessments to best suit their needs.

If you think you may be eligible for a remote assessment, or need an assessment to suit a disability, for any licence grade, and would like more information, please contact the WIA.

Who To Contact

Most questions about how to join Amateur Radio may be answered by the WIA Assessors or through this website. The WIA does not have the resources to answer a large number of telephone inquiries. If you need to contact it with a question not answered by the website material, click on the ‘Send Me More Info’ menu item on the left and completing the online form.

© 2018 Wireless Institute of Australia