How to Update your FCC License

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by AA7BQ, Jan 2, 2022.

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  1. AA7BQ

    AA7BQ QRZ Founder QRZ HQ Staff QRZ Page

    One thing that every ham in the USA has in common is the FCC. Every ham in the US is registered with the FCC, just like hams in other countries are registered with their respective governments. This article will serve as a how-to for US hams to keep their licenses updated in accordance with regulations.

    Okay, did that get your attention? It should because everyone needs to know that updates, and at this time, renewals, are free when you help yourself at the FCC website. Although using the FCC's website for updates is completely free, new licenses and renewals now cost $35 and must be paid directly to the FCC.

    Many of us have used the services of a VEC to update our license(s). Most VEC's charge a fee for license updates and renewals. It is a clerical fee paid to full-time employees who do nothing but fill out FCC forms for people. That's what you're paying for, a service. This means that you can do it yourself for free.

    Step 1 - Understand the FCC's Website
    While this sounds easy, many hams have gone right off the deep end from the very first page of the FCC's website. First of all, nothing on the page says "Amateur" or "Ham Radio" anywhere. Where do you go, where do you start?

    First, understand that the FCC is HUGE. They are a gigantic bureaucracy that serves multi-billion-dollar interests. They have dozens of databases, programs, and hundreds of licensing categories. Big corporations get licensed to manufacture their devices and cell phone towers. It's so large that from the front page, it seems incomprehensible. However, there is one thing that you must learn right now, even if you don't read the rest of the article. That one thing is:

    Universal Licensing System or ULS

    Then, when you go to the FCC's front page, at, ignore everything you see until you find a link that takes you to ULS. It shows up in a couple of places as a category, and it's the one you must use. Many hams, not knowing about ULS, registered with the FCC CORES system only to be greatly disappointed after none of their efforts resulted in an actual license update. What's worse is that while you're busy updating CORES, you aren't told of the ULS or its existence. Users are led to believe that they're making an update, such as to your FRN, using CORES when this accomplishes nothing for most hams. Stay away from CORES and everything else at the FCC. Only visit their ULS section.

    Step 2 - Get a Login to the ULS system

    To update your FCC Amateur radio license, you will need your FRN which is essentially your FCC user id. Logins to the FCC database are made using an FRN and a password. Right below where it asks for the password, it offers a Reset Password option. Use that to get a new password.

    "What is my FRN"?
    QRZ lists everybody's FRN in our call sign database. Just click on the Details tab to see it. On our pages, it is labeled as your FCC Record Number and there's even a button there to take you directly to the ULS record on the FCC website.

    Step 3 - Start using ULS

    Once you have your ULS login, things get a lot easier. With a login to ULS you can:

    - Renew your license
    - Update your mailing address
    - Request a Vanity call sign
    - Request a random new call sign
    - Request a printed copy
    - Get a PDF download of your certificate that doesn't say REFERENCE COPY across it.

    Now, some FAQ's about the process.

    What about a name change, such as marriage, etc. ?
    You can't do that online. You must fill out additional forms and submit documents.

    What about prior felony convictions?
    You can't do that online. You must fill out additional forms and submit documents.

    Do I need another FRN for my GMRS license?
    No. That's the purpose of the FRN. The author has three FCC licenses, 1 amateur, 1 GMRS, and 1 Commercial Radiotelephone. All have the same FRN.

    Why can't I log in to ULS with my call sign?
    Because you may have other non-amateur-related business with the FCC and so the FRN is your universal identifier within the halls of the FCC.

    I hope that many will find this a helpful guide. People have said for years that the FCC website is too complex, whereas the website is pretty simple. Their processes and procedures, nomenclature, and raw bureaucracy are the real problems. Getting people to realize that ULS is their true destination is half the battle won.

    73, -fred AA7BQ


    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Apr 16, 2023
    KJ5APR, KU5Q, M1WML and 36 others like this.
  2. K1LKP

    K1LKP Ham Member QRZ Page

    ======= write THANK TOU.gif

    KJ5APR and M1WML like this.
  3. KK5JY

    KK5JY Ham Member QRZ Page

    Has anybody heard when the FCC plans to implement application fees? The last notice I saw on their site said they are working to update software and publish the final rule? But there was no date mentioned.

    When the fees kick in, that will add one or more steps to at least some of the tasks described above.
    M1WML, KM4MA, K1LKP and 1 other person like this.
  4. N2RJ

    N2RJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Nobody has... it's a deep dark mystery right now. I suspect it will be very soon since we have a new permanent FCC chair.
    M1WML and K1LKP like this.
  5. KA3C

    KA3C Ham Member QRZ Page

    nice article,thank`so much Mr.Fred,happy new year,ve`healty and God bless you 73 from :KA3C
    M1WML likes this.
  6. W8SDD

    W8SDD Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Great Article.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2022
    M1WML and KB8UUZ like this.
  7. NU4R

    NU4R XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    BIG TIME Thank You!
    M1WML likes this.
  8. AA7BQ

    AA7BQ QRZ Founder QRZ HQ Staff QRZ Page

    Application fees have been submitted by the FCC for approval by congress. Until congress does something, no fees will be charged.

    As much as we hate fees, it's comforting to know that Congress has the ball.
    M1WML, WP4BRI, N2EY and 4 others like this.
  9. W5CMP

    W5CMP Ham Member QRZ Page

    Renew mine with ULS. Easy Pezze up and easy, Good for another 10 spot
    M1WML and N2EY like this.
  10. KM6TS

    KM6TS Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    How do I add an e-mail address? KM6TS
    M1WML likes this.
  11. WN9Q

    WN9Q Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks, I followed the instructions and was able to change my address in less than 5 minutes. Great job.
    M1WML, K8VSY and W7UUU like this.
  12. W4LLZ

    W4LLZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Came at a good time, I’m up for renewal this year. Gosh, hard to believe it’s been 10 years already. Sure have learned a lot, made many new friends, now I’m the county AUXCOMM coordinator, .... and teaching others....and bought a bunch of radio gear too. I’m still fascinated with radio...while many people take it for granted, I ponder what life would be like if electromagnetic energy was never discovered. Some truly brilliant men to be thankful for.
    M1WML likes this.
  13. W4KDN

    W4KDN Ham Member QRZ Page

    I am so thankful, it HERTZ.
    KR3DX, KJ5APR and M1WML like this.
  14. WE8P

    WE8P XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    If, like me, your license is up for renewal this year, you may be wondering what the timing requirements are. Here is the guidance from the FCC web site (

    "Licensees may file for renewal 30-60 days, but no more than 90 days, before their license expiration date. If your license expires, you may apply for renewal of the license for another term during a two-year filing grace period."

    Also if, like me, you suck at calendar math, you may find this web site helpful:
    M1WML and PEQUEAJIM like this.
  15. W4LLZ

    W4LLZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Too funny
    KR3DX and M1WML like this.
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