How long after Exam?

Discussion in 'Becoming an Amateur Radio Operator/Upgrading Privi' started by K9RXC, May 11, 2018.

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  1. K9RXC

    K9RXC Ham Member QRZ Page

    This question must come up periodically but my angst requires me to ask again. My wife and I took and passed our exams on Saturday, April 28. We're closing on two weeks now with nothing in the FCC database, no license grant and nothing in the application area either.

    Our VEC was ARRL so I thought they'd be very efficient with pushing the license grants to the FCC. The VEs there even suggested we might have our calls as soon as last Friday.

    In a burst of enthusiasm I actually took a day off work to go shop for a couple of HTs for us on the Monday following the exams thinking we'd be on the air that week. That was ten days ago now. The radios sit as my frustration grows.

    I spent a solid month, practically day and night cramming for the exams. I passed the Tech and General. According to the VEs I aced both of them. I'm new to radio so I was a bit drained after all that and REALLY looking forward to enjoying what I worked so hard for. But, the radios sit.

    So how long guys? And I get the more experienced hams, before the Internet, had to wait months. That was the expectation then. It had to be extremely frustrating, I get that. But you expected to wait months back then.

    Now, with all the automation I understand it can happen as soon as 3 days. I'm almost two weeks in. What happened? How much longer might we have to wait?

  2. AB3TQ

    AB3TQ Subscriber QRZ Page

    I would be contacting your VE team. Make sure they followed through correctly on your paperwork. The answer to your question is typically a 10 day wait. Some VE teams process the paperwork faster. Obviously, yours did NOT.
    W5PFG, KG5THG and K9RXC like this.
  3. KU4X

    KU4X Premium Subscriber QRZ Page


    First of all, congratulations to you and your wife on passing your exams.

    The way the ARRL VEC works is thusly:
    1) You pass your exam(s).
    2) The VE team chief packs up the test session paperwork and sends it, via snail mail, to the ARRL VEC in Newington.
    3) The ARRL VEC reviews the paperwork and if it is all proper, creates an electronic data file and submits it to the FCC.
    If there is a problem, the paperwork will be returned to the VE team chief for correction and resubmission.
    4) The FCC processes the file, if it is correct, and posts it to the FCC website. If there are issues with the submittal, error
    codes are generated and the VEC is informed. The VEC then takes whatever action is necessary to correct the submission and then resubmits it to the FCC.
    5) The FCC can also process the file, but put it in a "Pending" status for any number of reasons. They will check to see if the applicant owes the Federal Government any money, plus check a number of "lists" to see if the applicant shows up on any of them. Those lists are not open to the public.

    I think you can see where possible problems/bottlenecks can occur.
    If the VE team sits on the paperwork, nothing is going to happen.
    If it gets stuck in the postal system, nothing is going to happen.
    If the ARRL VEC is backlogged, nothing is going to happen.
    (BTW, the ARRL VEC's processing goal (as of a couple of years ago) was 1-2 business days.)
    And then there is...the Government. You may draw your own conclusions. :rolleyes:

    (And more BTW: the process above applies to all VECs. Each may do certain steps in a different manner, but the process flow is the same. I'm using the ARRL VEC since that is who gave you your exams.)

    Bottom line: Contact the VE team who gave you your exams and let them know you have yet to show up in the FCC ULS.
    The team chief is in the best position find out what is going on.
    If you can't get satisfaction from the team chief, contact the ARRL VEC. (Google is your friend.)
    As a last resort, contact the FCC. If they have not received the submittal file, there is nothing for them to check. That is why you need to go through the VE team chief, then the VEC.

    Good luck, and welcome to Amateur Radio!

    Last edited: May 11, 2018
    W5PFG, KG5THG and K9RXC like this.
  4. K9RXC

    K9RXC Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks for the info guys. I do have the calls of the VEs on the CSCE form so hopefully I can get an email to one of them. If nothing shows tomorrow we fall into another weekend so nothing happens until next week. The only "good" thing there is we'll be past 15 days and ARRL will let us contact them with an inquiry.

    I do appreciate the welcome to Amateur Radio, the ham community as a whole has been great. We had no idea what we were walking into community wise. We joined a couple of ham clubs in our area and they've been fantastic - bright and friendly people all. Its been an amazing eye opener.

    Only thing is, without that call, I don't feel like a ham at all yet. I can't hit the PTT, I'm mute. It's like being nameless. It's killing all the joy. I can't even monitor our local repeater anymore. Very frustrating!

    To any VEs out there that might be reading this - PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE get that paperwork in promptly! Us new wannabe hams are dying to get on the air and talk with our fellow hams.
  5. K7JEM

    K7JEM Ham Member QRZ Page

    The Laurel VEC we work with is extremely fast. Typically, new callsigns will appear on the ULS as fast as twelve hours after end of test session. We will end a test session at 8PM local time, and the new calls will show up before 8AM local the next day. The lady that inputs our data usually does it at 6AM local time, which is around 8AM Eastern. It is a totally different process than the ARRL VEC, and usually much quicker.
    AG5DB and K9RXC like this.
  6. K7JEM

    K7JEM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Next time look for a Laurel VEC if one is available in your area. The tests are always free, and the paperwork is submitted electronically.
    AG5DB and K9RXC like this.
  7. K9RXC

    K9RXC Ham Member QRZ Page

    I had NO idea about Laurel! When I decide to go for my Extra I'll see if I can take the exam with them. Have to say this whole experience is leaving a bad taste in my mouth for the ARRL. Here I thought the national club was really going to be there for me as a new ham. Now I'm scratching my head.
  8. KG5THG

    KG5THG Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    First of all, congratulations! If you talk with the ARRL, please let us know what happened. Our VE team mails the test packets the same day. We test on a Saturday, so the ARRL would most likely not receive the package until mid week and then the clock starts. This is one of the areas the ARRL needs to improve in and start using electronic submissions. The only problem we have ever had is when people don't write clearly on the signup sheet and when we try and contact them, we have a bad phone number we can't make out.
    KU4X likes this.
  9. K1SZO

    K1SZO XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I took my extra exam last Saturday. They said up to 10 days. I suppose today is the 7th day and thus far the FCC site hasn't been updated. The one positive is I'm already licensed so I don't have too much to be impatient about, but I do remember waiting impatiently when I was first licensed.
  10. AB3TQ

    AB3TQ Subscriber QRZ Page

    Every situation is unique, but 10 days is often given as a reasonable expectation. I have NEVER considered counting the day of the test as day #1. That is just uber optimism. In my case I fell exactly on that time expectation. I took the test on a Saturday (the 21st). My grant date was a Tuesday (the 31st). That is how I count to 10.
    KE0QXD and K1SZO like this.

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