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How Do I Renew My Ham Radio Operator's License on the Computer?

If you are a ham radio operator and are less than 90 days from your license expiration date, or if your license expired less than two years ago, you can renew your ham radio license online from your computer. You won't need to take the examination again. With a credit card and access to the internet, you can use the FCC's Universal Licensing System.


Getting There Online

For your amateur radio license renewal, Go to the FCC's Universal Licensing System's Universal Licensing Manager page. Log in to the Universal Licensing Manager, using your FCC registration number, or FRN. If you have not previously registered for an FRN, click "Register."

The Universal Licensing System will ask you if you are a business or an individual and whether your contact address is in the US. Click the appropriate response, either yes or no, and click "Continue." Fill in the required sections of the application, including your Social Security number, and click "Submit" at the bottom of the page.

The FCC server will thank you and present your FRN, along with a copy of the information you submitted. The FCC's Universal Licensing System does not display your security question or password publicly.

Starting the Renewal

According to the FCC's Renewing A License section, Go to the "License-at-A-Glance" page. Click the link marked "Renew" in the right-hand column. If you're license is eligible for ham license renewal, a link to the Select Updates page will appear.

If your license is not eligible for renewal, no link will appear. Click the link to move to the Licensee page. Review the information there and update any missing or out-of-date information. Click the checkbox to the left of the information when you finish editing. Click "Continue" to go to the Licensee Information page.

Edit and Certify

Answer the questions that appear on the License Information Page. These questions confirm the type of license you are renewing. Click the "Edit" button to make any additional changes you deem necessary. Click "Continue." Read the information that you have entered on the "Summary Information Page." Click "Certify."

Enter your given name and surname into the two empty boxes at the bottom left of the page. This is your electronic signature. Click "Submit" at the bottom of the page. Print the page that the ULS presents to you; this is a copy of your application.

Pay the Fee

After you've submitted your application, there is the matter of the FCC license renewal cost. The ULS sends you to the FCC's payment page, headed "Pay Fees," and presents you with an invoice for your licensing fees. You may pay the fee by credit card at that time.

Ensure that the name you enter as the “Payer” matches the name on the credit card. You must also enter the three- or four-digit security code on the back of the credit card. Press "Submit." Your authority to operate is effective as soon as your license appears in the Universal Licensing System.

Everyday Maintenance Shutdowns

The ULS shuts down for maintenance periodically, and these are announced on the Universal Licensing System webpage. Pay attention to these times, and complete your application before the system goes into maintenance mode.

If your application is incomplete when the system goes down, all of the information you entered is lost. You may alternatively fill out and mail a paper form, FCC Form 605, which can be downloaded at the FCC Licensing and Databases Forms page. Instructions on filling out and mailing it are on the form.

Ham Radio License Classes

There are three different types of ham radio classes, according to ARRL, the National Association for Amateur Radio. The Technician class license is the entry level license that requires passing a test of 35 questions on radio theory, regulations and operating practices.

The General license allows the operator worldwide communication. These license holders must first pass the technician's license before obtaining the general license, and then pass a test with 35 questions. The Amateur Extra license entails passing a 50-question exam, along with the prior exams. This license holder has all available U.S. Amateur Radio operating privileges.

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