A ham radio is one of the best means of communication that you can have on the road and during emergencies. However, to operate one, you need a valid FCC license. This license expires after ten years, and you can only renew it within 90 days before it expires or two years after.
Fortunately, renewing ham radio license is free and easy. There are three ways you can go about it. Today’s article will show you how to renew your ham radio license and provide other essential information on FCC ham license renewal. Make sure you read until the very end!
Detailed Instructions on Ham Radio License Renewal
You do not need to prepare a lot for this procedure. Depending on the method that you choose, have a computer/laptop or printer and mailing supplies ready.
There are two key parts to renewing ham license. The first is checking your license expiration date and the second is renewing it.
Now, we will look at both in detail.
- Part 1: Checking Your License Expiration Date
Before you learn the methods to renew your ham radio license, you should be aware of when your license expires.
If you have a physical copy of your license, check the expiration date printed on it. However, if you do not have a physical copy or do not have it on hand to check, here are three other options you can try to check when your license expires:
Step 1: FCC Website Search
On your web browser, go to https://www.fcc.gov/universal-licensing-system to arrive at the official FCC website. This is where you can find all the information about FCC amateur radio license renewal. There is a Universal Licensing System (ULS) database that stores everything.
Navigate the interface and click on “SEARCHING.” Then, click on the “LICENSE SEARCH” function and enter your call sign into the text box. Click the “SEARCH” button and wait for the site to take you to a new page that features information about when your license expires.
Step 2: QRZ.com Search
The second option is to use QRZ.com. This site contains the same information as the FCC website as it obtains data from ULS. Although you will need to have a QRZ.com account in order to access the information, registration is free.
Go to https://www.qrz.com/ on your web browser. Next, locate the search box on the top of the page and type in your call sign.
Click “SEARCH” and wait until your profile page pops up. There should be a tab called “DETAILS” with all your user information, including the license expiration date.
Step 3: ARRL Notification
This is the third option, but it only works if you are an ARRL member.
Go to https://www.arrl.org/ and log in to your account. Navigate to your profile by clicking on “EDIT YOUR PROFILE.” When you are able to see your profile page on the screen, click the “EDIT EMAIL SUBSCRIPTIONS” tab and check the box for “NOTIFICATION OF LICENSE EXPIRATION.”
Then, ARRL will notify you through an email 90 days before your license expires, so you can have it renewed in time.
- Part 2: Renewing Your Ham License
Like checking your license expiration date, there are three ways to renew your ham radio license.
Step 1: Virtual Method (FCC Website)
Using the FCC License Manager System (LMS) on the official FCC website is the easiest method to renew FCC license within the 90 days leading up to the expiration. Here is how you do it:
Go to https://www.fcc.gov/universal-licensing-system on your web browser. Find the “FILING” function and click on it. Then click on “FILE ONLINE” and sign into your FCC account. Set one up if you do not already have an FCC account.
Fill in the text boxes with your password and FCC Registration Number (FRN) and submit. Finally, on the “MY LICENSES” tab, click “RENEW LICENSES.” It should take you to a new page where you can select the license you want to renew.
Step 2: Physical Method (FCC Mail)
If you do not want all the Internet hassle above and want a more traditional approach, you can renew your license through mail.
All you have to do is download and complete the FCC 605 Form from this link: https://www.fcc.gov/fcc-form-605. Print and fill it out and send it to 1270 Fairfield Rd, Gettysburg PA 17325-7245.
Note: It should take a few weeks for the FCC to process your renewal.
Step 3: Physical Method (ARRL Mail)
This last approach is the go-to solution if you are a member of the ARRL. It is free of charge for current members. Simply send a complete NCVEC 605 Form to the ARRL VEC. Compared to the FCC, the ARRL may take just a few days to renew your license.
Note: The mailing address is ARRL/VEC, 225 Main Street, Newington, CT 06111 USA.
To complete this guide on how to renew ham radio license, this section will cover frequently asked questions that ham radio users have:
Can I still renew my license after it has already expired?
Keep in mind that you can still renew your license if it has expired. The only case where you cannot is if it has been more than two years since the expiration.
Do I have to retake the exam to renew my license?
You do NOT have to retake the exam to renew your ham radio license if it is still 90 days before the expiration or 2 years after. But if you have passed the two-year time frame, you will need to retake the Technician Class or Element 2 exam to be qualified for another license.
If you score enough on this test, you will be issued a new license that matches the class of your previous license. This means you will receive a Technician Class license if you were a Technician Class licensee.
Note: The same applies for the General, Advanced, or Extra Class license.
Do I have to pay to renew my license?
As of right now, all methods to renew a license are free of charge. However, it is said that by 2022, there will be a fee of $35 per application. This fee will also be applied to applications for sequential call sign change or update, and vanity call sign.
Hopefully, this section on frequently asked questions provided you with further assistance. Now, you should have no problem renewing your ham radio license.
For every ham radio owner, knowing how to renew your ham radio license is a must. You have learned the two necessary parts of this procedure and three methods available in each part.
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