FCC Transitioning To Electronic-only Licensing Correspondence

Sometime in mid-2021 the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will complete their transition to “electronic correspondence and will no longer print or provide wireless licensees with hard-copy authorizations or registrations by mail.” 1

This transition will require all Amateur Radio licensees—both existing and applicants—to provide a valid e-mail address on license applications. Licensees will also be required to maintain a valid e-mail address in their ULS record in the same way that they must maintain a valid mailing address.

Part 97 § 97.21 ¶ (a)(1) will be revised to read, in part:

(a) A person holding a valid amateur station license grant:

(1) Must apply to the FCC for a modification of the license grant as necessary to show the correct mailing and e-mail address, licensee name, club name, license trustee name, or license custodian name in accordance with § 1.913 of this chapter. … 2

Part 97 § 97.23 will be revised to read:

Each license grant must show the grantee’s correct name, mailing address, and e-mail address. The e-mail address must be an address where the grantee can receive electronic correspondence. Revocation of the station license or suspension of the operator license may result when correspondence from the the FCC is returned as undeliverable because the grantee failed to provide the correct e-mail address. 3

A announcement of this transition to electronic-only licensing correspondence was adopted on September 16, 2020, in a Report and Order (R&O) in the matter of Completing the Transition to Electronic Filing, Licenses and Authorizations, and Correspondence in the Wireless Radio Services:

Today, we finalize our transition to electronic interactions for licenses in the Wireless Radio Services—a transition that began more than two decades ago. By doing so, we decrease the costs for consumers and the Commission, enhance transparency of and access to data, significantly improve administrative efficiency, and save a substantial amount of paper annually—to the benefit of the Commission and those who interact with these systems alike. 4

While the Commission corresponds electronically with applicants and licensees in some instances, there remains a large amount of paper communication generated by ULS and its supporting systems. The relevant applications and FCC Forms provide an opportunity for, but do not require, users to provide an e-mail address as part of their contact information. The Wireless Telecommunications and Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureaus (the Bureaus) by practice send paper correspondence generated by these systems to applicants and licensees, such as copies of licenses, reminder letters, and other courtesy notices. The Bureaus send thousands of these letters via U.S. Postal Mail each year. 5

Finalizing the Commission’s transition to an electronic-only ULS and [Antenna Structure Registration (ASR) System], and reducing the paper created by other systems, requires us to take several remaining steps. First, we remove the remaining exemptions to mandatory electronic filing in ULS and require electronic filing in the ASR System. Second, we require electronic filing of pleadings related to Wireless Radio Services licenses and applications in these systems and require electronic service where service of such pleadings is required. Third, we require that all applicants, licensees, and registrants in the Wireless Radio Services include at least one valid e-mail address on the relevant FCC Forms. Fourth, we shift from U.S. Postal Service to electronic delivery of correspondence generated from these systems to applicants, licensees, and registrants in the Wireless Radio Services. And finally, we set a transition deadline of six months for these changes to take effect, 6

“The new rules will go into effect 6 months after publication in the Federal Register, which hasn’t happened yet, but the FCC is already strongly encouraging applicants to provide an email address.” 7

The current version of Part 97 is available on-line in a number of locations including:


  1. “FCC to Require Email Addresses on Applications”, ARRL the national association for Amateur Radio, accessed December 10 2020, http://www.arrl.org/news/fcc-to-require-email-addresses-on-applications. ↩︎

  2. “Report and Order FCC 20-126 pp29-30”, Federal Communications Commission, accessed December 10 2020, https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/FCC-20-126A1.pdf. ↩︎

  3. “Report and Order FCC 20-126 p30”, Federal Communications Commission, accessed December 10 2020, https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/FCC-20-126A1.pdf. ↩︎

  4. “Report and Order FCC 20-126 § I.2”, Federal Communications Commission, accessed December 10 2020, https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/FCC-20-126A1.pdf. ↩︎

  5. “Report and Order FCC 20-126 § II.5”, Federal Communications Commission, accessed December 10 2020, https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/FCC-20-126A1.pdf. ↩︎

  6. “Report and Order FCC 20-126 § III.7”, Federal Communications Commission, accessed December 10 2020, https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/FCC-20-126A1.pdf. ↩︎

  7. “FCC to Require Email Addresses on Applications”, ARRL the national association for Amateur Radio, accessed December 10 2020, http://www.arrl.org/news/fcc-to-require-email-addresses-on-applications. ↩︎