FCC Proposes to Reinstate Amateur Radio Service Fees

Amateur radio licensees would pay a $50 fee for each amateur radio license application if the FCC adopts rules it proposed this week. Included in the FCC’s fee proposal are applications for new licenses, renewal and upgrades to existing licenses, and vanity call sign requests. Excluded are applications for administrative updates, such as changes of address, and annual regulatory fees.1

The proposed charges:

  • Application for new license: $50
  • License modification (e.g. upgrades): $50
  • License renewal: $50
  • Vanity application: $50
  • Administrative update (address change, etc.): free

“Note that [these fees] would apply per license in the ULS, so if you maintain a club callsign, it would cost the same amount for the club application and renewal."2

While an application fee may help solve the problem of people hoarding 1x2 and 2x1 call-signs it will increase the cost of participating in our hobby. And it may have unintended consequences such as causing an increase in unlicensed operation.

The FCC proposal is contained in a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in MD Docket 20-270, which was adopted to implement portions of the “Repack Airwaves Yielding Better Access for Users of Modern Services Act” of 2018—the so-called "Ray Baum’s Act”.

The Act requires that the FCC switch from a Congressionally-mandated fee structure to a cost-based system of assessment. In its NPRM, the FCC proposed application fees for a broad range of services that use the FCC’s Universal Licensing System (ULS), including the Amateur Radio Service that had been excluded by an earlier statute. The new statute excludes the Amateur Service from annual regulatory fees, but not from application fees.3

Read the ARRL News story about the NPRM for more details.


  1. “FCC Proposes to Reinstate Amateur Radio Service Fees”, ARRL, accessed August 28 2020, http://www.arrl.org/news/view/fcc-proposes-to-reinstate-amateur-radio-service-fees. ↩︎

  2. “FCC NPRM shows plan to start charging for amateur licensing”, Reddit, accessed August 28 2020, https://www.reddit.com/r/amateurradio/comments/ii7b39/fcc_nprm_shows_plan_to_start_charging_for_amateur/. ↩︎

  3. “FCC Proposes to Reinstate Amateur Radio Service Fees”, ARRL, accessed August 28 2020, http://www.arrl.org/news/view/fcc-proposes-to-reinstate-amateur-radio-service-fees. ↩︎