Costa Rica Once Again Has Ham Radio Regulations

Long-time readers of Cloud Warmer have read about the ongoing saga of ham radio regulation here in Costa Rice here, here, and here. Given what appeared to be little or no effort in formulating new regulations by SUTEL to replace the obsoleted regs under a previous agency, an e-mail from AA2UP caught me a bit by surprise.
SUTEL logo
TI7/AA2UP sent me the following link to the new "Radio Handbook" for amateur operators in Costa Rica. It's 125 pages, including a long section they snarfed out of the Panamanian handbook of radio theory. The link goes to a big PDF and it downloads rather slowly, so don't click it, especially if you don't read Spanish:

Of course, AA2UP, myself, and any other expat ham here who is using a prefixed call sign was hoping they'd allow us real Tico calls, but alas. There appears to be nothing specific in the new regulations concerning that situation. They cover Costa Rican license aspirants and "temporary" aspirants. The latter can now officially operate under reciprocal permission if their home country recognizes reciprocity for Costa Rican citizens. There is no specific mention of legal residents, conditional or permanent. 

In any case, all operators are to register via  a form with SUTEL. They also want a full description of all your equipment and its location, in writing. Below the fold are some rough translations of sections relevant to resident hams such as myself. I don't see any mention of fees, but you know that that's coming soon.

 (Photo credit: dnas2)
"Permission of reciprocity will be granted to foreigners without producing the corresponding examinations, whenever they present permission of current amateur status from their home country and that that benefit is granted reciprocally to Costa Rican citizens."

Looks like no exam is required if you can operate under a reciprocal permit. They also require a complete list of your equipment and its location. The only problem I see with reciprocity is that the regs specify "Costa Rican operators" and "foreigners", and it's implied that the latter are temporary operators. Seems like they haven't specifically addressed legal residents or they just assume we operate reciprocally.

"All the applicants to obtain a permission for amateur operation will have to present his request in the corresponding form, to SUTEL, with the following information:

a. Name, no vacancies, number of certificate, general qualifications, exact address where the station is located, telephone number, post-office box, place to receive notifications and any other fact for the easily locating the petitioner.
b. Two passport size photos.
c. Photocopy of his identity card.
d. If the applicant is under-age it must indicate the name of the father or mother contributing his name along with the written authorization, where the signature of parent is properly authenticated, requesting the license of radioaficionado for the minor.
e. Specification of the characteristics of the equipment to use, indicating mark, model, serial number and power, ... "

It's not clear if all the requirements above apply to those operating under reciprocity.

"For purposes of control, operators will have to maintain daily notes that must be sealed and enabled for SUTEL, where the amateur will note down all the communications that are done.

The book must have numbered pages and it will be written in clear text. The following indications will have to be recorded:

a. Date and hour in which he establishes the contact.
b. Used band.
c. Station correspondent.
d. Type of emission used.
e. Report of sign “ RS or RST ”.

This document will have to be presented in the moment and place in which it is needed by the officials of the SUTEL."

They require hams to keep paper logs in a bound book.

I see nothing that addresses getting a real TI call. Seems you would have to pass the exam to do so, but even that is not clear. There is certainly nothing about vanity calls.

As with almost any new regulations in Costa Rica, especially first drafts, it doesn't pay to jump too quickly. Within a few months to a year, these ham radio regulations will very likely be revised substantially. That's the way things work here. I'm also anxious to see what fees will be charged. If they are going to charge according to the value of your equipment (believe me, this is quite possible!) then I may show them only my KX1, HI. Meanwhile, I plan to continue using my prefixed call when operating. I don't expect anyone from SUTEL to come knocking on my door anytime soon. 73!
Enhanced by Zemanta


  1. does this hold true today? I just started HAM radio by buying a baofeng 2-way radio. I wasn't sure what the law here in CR suggests but i do hear people still chatting on the marine band and they told me that you can pretty much operate here without a license.

    1. pfunix, I just heard today that to operate in CR legally, as a Tico, you have until *this* Friday to sign up to take a written and practical test (no code). So, things are changing. Of course, I would expect enforcement to be lax, at least for a while. If you are a citizen of another country, then you have to be licensed there to operate here.

  2. Anonymous22/3/14 18:52

    My wife is a tica so I've been to CR a few times. There is a ham living in CR that I've communicated with and he told me that right now it's OK to bring my handheld and simply use my U.S. call with a /TI# suffix without doing anything at SUTEL because SUTEL had bigger fish to fry. I did get on the radio on my last trip but didn't make any contacts. Didn't seem to be much 2 meter activity from what I could tell. I was a bit nervous about transmitting though. I'd like to get a formal license and it would be nice to get a permanent license. Still working on getting my Spanish up to speed so that I can take the test there but it's tuff for an old geezer like me.

    1. Unless you are a CR citizen, I don't think you can get a TI call. There is nothing in the regs about residents being able to take the test. There are not a lot of hams in CR, which may be why you couldn't raise someone on 2 meters or they might be put off by your English.


Thanks very much for your comment! 73, Casey