Sunday, September 02, 2007

Tips for operating from the Caymans - A summary

I thought I was done with posts about my Cayman trip, but something came up recently that I thought would be a useful addition to the blog. A friend forwarded a note to me from another ham from a private club mailing list, asking for information about operating from the Cayman Islands. Although most of this information is contained elsewhere here, I wrote the other ham an email with a lot of the relatively important information summarized. I thought it might be useful to post my email as a summary which I could use to refer folks to in the future. Here's the letter, with a few minor edits.

First of all, the key to getting your license is to START EARLY! I started in March and didn't get the license until May. Things down there work on "island time", you need to be prepared to wait a bit. The folks are all very nice, it's just that it might take a couple of weeks for them to get around to answering an email. The Caymanian equivalent of the FCC is the ICTA, which is at Unfortunately, although there's a link for Amateur radio, it's marked "coming soon", and has been since I first looked back in February 2007. Remember, it's island time. One note about the delay in getting a response is that the main person to contact for Amateur licensing, Kevin Washington, apparently has been ill, so he's not always in the office. Kevin's email is I also dealt with Nikki Forbes,, and there's also the address (which I think may go to both of them).

Note that the Cayman license is good for one year from date of issue. Also, note that in order to bring radio gear into the country, you need to get (and pay for; I think it was USD$ 12) an import permit. I traveled pretty light, and if I hadn't said something to the customs folks there, I doubt they would have even noticed that I had any gear with me, but I have heard from others who've been down there that if you don't have an import permit (and they find your gear), you'll be required to post a cash bond equal to the value of the gear. (They don't want you "importing" gear that's going to stay on the island.) The real pain in that case, aside from having to lay out the money, is going through the process to collect it when you're coming back. I figured that the $12 import permit was a good insurance policy. In my case, I gave the customs agent the form, she had to ask a few people to figure out what to do with it, then she handed it back to me, and said "ok, thanks". Of course, if you wind up staying at a place where you don't need to bring gear, it won't be an issue.

Probably the best person to contact regarding all things ham radio down there is Andrew Eden, ZF1EJ. His email is Andrew runs the Cayman club station, ZF1A. I didn't get a chance to operate from there, but from speaking with others I understand that if you bring your own rig, you can operate from there (it's an antennas-only shack, or at least it was from what others have told me), though I'm not sure what kind of arrangements you'd need to make. However, Andrew was very helpful in responding to all of my questions about radio in general, the island, and dealing with the ICTA. He normally will respond pretty quickly to email, so if you don't hear back from him after a few days to a week, drop him a gentle reminder (like everyone, he gets busy) and I'm sure you'll hear back from him.

The one other thing that I can think of off the top of my head is to be sure to let folks know that you're going. I documented the list of folks that I contacted to let them know I was going. There are probably others that I missed, but I have to say that I was pretty amazed at how many places my announcement showed up after sending to this list:

Name of publication/list: Contact
Ohio/Penn DX Bulletin: kb8nw@arrl.net425
DX News: Mauro Pregliasco, I1JQJ (
Daily DX:

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