ITU Zones - introduction


Contacts between amateur stations, located in different parts of the world, can be a basis for obtainment many awards or be used to classification in contests. For these purposes the World is divided in ITU Zones (called sometimes IARU Zones) as one of two main manners. Another is WAZ Zones dividing.

ITU Zones are based on a partition of whole surface the World for professional radio communication. For them is used the name “CIRAF Zones” – they are in most subdivided in quadrants.

CIRAF Zones - Conferencia Internacional de Radiodifusión por Altas Frecuencias. Spanish - because these zones were defined at the World Administrative Radio Conference held in Mexico in 1948. It defines areas to be served by each shortwave broadcaster. Continuing HFCC meetings are held to refine such agreements. Each CIRAF target zone has a number.

For HAM targets that zones were most suited to country borders – but not completely. In some cases countries are dividing trough limits to 2 or more pieces.

There is no single entity administering this issue. Consequently, there are no uniform rules that describe this subject. Thus, each national association can be very flexibly apply the general guidelines and use rules deviate from use in other countries.

Larry E. Price W4RA, the IARU president in 2002, requesting the definitive ITU zone definitions - wrote:


               You have to keep in mind that the ITU has one administrative purpose for having zones that has nothing at all to do with amateur radio.

               However, various amateur radio organizations decided to have both awards and operating events on the air based on the idea of zones.

               But, since this is not why the zones exist as far as ITU is concerned, the sponsors of these amateur events are free to interpret the zone boundaries any way they wish. So, there might not be a single "official amateur radio zone list."

               For the US & Canada, the interpretation by ARRL is found in The ARRL Operating Manual, desk top reference, page 12 which defines the boundaries between US States and Canadian provinces.

               If you have more questions about any particular contest or award, they should be directed to the sponsor.



Larry, W4RA

Please be aware that amateur zones in maritime areas, are not set out definite boundaries. Therefore, stations working from moving objects at sea or in the air, practically alone determine their zone.

In this website I drew up detailed maps and descriptions gathered all zones, based on the maximum coherent information from different sources.

I hope that these materials will help organize the theme of ITU Zones and will allow a more precise determination of the position of amateur stations. I wish you satisfaction in using my materials.


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