How to Easily Renew Your Ham Radio License Online

Amateur radio, also known as ham radio, is a fun and rewarding hobby that allows you to talk to people around the world However, to operate ham radios and participate in this hobby, you need a license issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). This license is valid for 10 years, after which you’ll need to renew it

Renewing your ham radio license is easy and can be done completely online through the FCC website In this comprehensive guide, I’ll walk you through the entire process of checking your license expiration date, requirements for renewal, how to submit your application on the FCC site, and more.

Check When Your Current Ham Radio License Expires

The first step is to check when your current license will expire. There are a few easy ways to find this date:

  • Search the FCC License Database Go to the FCC Universal Licensing System and enter your call sign in the license search bar It will pull up your license info including the expiration date.

  • This popular ham radio call sign lookup site shows license expiration dates. Just create a free account and search your call sign.

  • Contact the ARRL: If you’re an ARRL member, they can notify you when your license is 90 days from expiration. Just enable this in your account email preferences.

I recommend looking up your expiration date as soon as possible so you know when you’ll need to renew. You can renew up to 90 days before expiration.

Renewal Requirements and Eligibility

To be eligible for license renewal, you must meet these requirements:

  • Your current license cannot have expired more than 2 years ago. Licenses expired for over 2 years cannot be renewed.

  • You must be at least 18 years old, or have a parent or legal guardian as a licensee.

Other than that, no retesting or additional exam is needed. You just need to submit the renewal application and pay the fee.

If your license has been expired for less than 2 years, you can still renew it using the same process. There is no penalty or extra steps needed if your license is not yet expired or is within the 2 year grace period.

How to Submit Your License Renewal Application

You can easily renew your ham radio license on the FCC website in just a few quick steps:

  1. Go to the FCC Universal Licensing System (ULS).

  2. Click on “Login to the ULS” and enter your FRN number and password. If you don’t have an FRN, you’ll need to register first.

  3. Once logged in, click on “Download Electronic Authorizations” and search for your call sign.

  4. Click on “Renew” next to your license. This will only appear within 90 days of expiration or if expired less than 2 years.

  5. Review and update your licensee information if needed.

  6. Answer the renewal questions and agree to the certification statement.

  7. Enter your name to electronically sign the application.

  8. Submit the application and pay the $35 license renewal fee.

That’s all there is to it! The whole process can be completed in just a few minutes. Once submitted, your license will be renewed for another 10 years.

Helpful Tips for Renewing Your License Online

Here are some tips to make your license renewal smooth and easy:

  • Pay attention to the 90 day window – You can only renew 90 days before expiration, so don’t miss your window.

  • Have your FRN handy – Your FRN will be needed to access your license account on the FCC site.

  • Double check your information – Carefully review and update your name, address, email, etc to ensure it’s correct.

  • Save payment confirmation – Keep a record of your $35 renewal payment in case you need to provide proof later.

  • Print application confirmation – Print or save the confirmation page after submitting your application.

Following these tips will help avoid any issues renewing your license on time.

Can You Renew By Mail Instead?

While online renewal through the ULS is recommended for simplicity and speed, you can also mail in your renewal application.

To do this:

  1. Complete FCC Form 605 manually by printing it out and filling it in.

  2. Print and fill out FCC Form 159. This is for your license renewal payment.

  3. Mail both forms with a $35 check or payment info to the address on the forms.

Mailing paper forms is a valid option but takes significantly longer than online filing. It may take weeks for the FCC to receive and process mailed applications. For a speedy renewal, online is definitely preferable.

Do You Need To Retake the License Exam?

The good news is you do not have to retake your license exam just to renew your current license! Renewal only requires submitting the application and paying the fee. No retesting is needed as long as you renew before your license expires.

You also keep the same operator class you currently hold. For example, if you have a General class license now, you’ll renew as a General.

The only exception is if your license has already expired past the 2 year grace period. In that case, you would need to retest and would initially only receive a new Technician class license. You would then need to provide evidence of your previous license to be upgraded back to General or Extra class.

So as long as you renew on time, you can keep your current license class with no retesting required.

Why You Should Renew Your License Promptly

Even if you’re not regularly using your ham radio privileges, there are good reasons to renew promptly when your license nears expiration:

  • Avoid retesting: Renewing on time means you keep your current operator class with no exam needed.

  • Maintain operating privileges: Your call sign can only be transmitted if your license is active and up to date.

  • Preserve your call sign: Renewing gives the best chance to keep your cherished call sign.

  • Support the hobby: Keeping your license contributes to the vitality of the entire amateur radio community.

  • Stay connected: Renewing keeps you in the loop for news, events, and developments in ham radio.

Unless you’re certain you have no more interest in the hobby, renewing just makes sense for most license holders. The license fee is inexpensive for 10 more years of privileges.

How Much Does It Cost To Renew a Ham Radio License?

It costs $35 to renew an amateur radio license, whether Technician, General, or Extra class. This fee is charged by the FCC and must be paid as part of your renewal application.

Here are some key points on the license renewal fee:

  • The fee is the same regardless of operator class. All renewals are $35.

  • Payment must be made electronically or by mail with your application. Unpaid applications will be dismissed.

  • The fee applies to all renewals submitted after April 19, 2022 per federal law.

  • The ARRL and other groups lobbied for a lower $15 renewal fee, but $35 was ultimately set.

While not a huge cost, the $35 renewal fee does represent a change from past decades when renewal was free. This provides funding for FCC licensing expenses and infrastructure. Most hams consider it a worthwhile investment to stay licensed.

Avoiding Scams Related to License Renewal

Because license renewal is required by the FCC, some shady companies may try to mislead hams into unneeded services or fees. Here are tips to avoid scams:

  • Renew directly through the FCC – This is the official and only way to renew your license. Third parties are unnecessary.

  • Never pay more than $35 – That is the only fee the FCC requires for renewal. Higher fees are a red flag.

  • Don’t share your FRN – Your FCC Registration Number should only be used on the official FCC licensing sites.

  • Verify any emails – If you get a renewal reminder, ensure it’s actually from the FCC or ARRL before trusting links or info.

As long as you renew through the legitimate FCC website, you can complete the process without needing help from any third party services.

Key Takeaways on Ham Radio License Renewal

Renewing your ham radio license is a straightforward and important process to keep your operating privileges valid. Here are some key takeaways:

  • Check your expiration date ASAP so you know when to renew

  • Renew up to 90 days before expiration on the FCC ULS site

  • No retesting or new application needed – just update info and pay $35

  • Renew promptly to avoid hassles and keep your call sign

  • You can also mail in forms but online is faster and simpler

  • Only use – avoid shady renewal services

How to Renew your FCC Amateur Radio Licenses


How do you update your ham license?

To renew, update, or add an email address or phone number to a license record, amateurs may file online (electronically) on the FCC ULS website via the License Manager System using their FCC issued FCC Registration Number (FRN) and password. Manually filed paper applications are not accepted by the FCC.

Is there a grace period for ham radio license?

Licensees may file for renewal 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.

Is my ham radio license still valid?

You can check your license renewal date at and click on License Search. You will find the expiration date of your license.

How do I renew my ham radio license?

Ham radio license renewal is usually quite fast. However, keep in mind that you can only renew your license ninety days before it expires or within two years after your license expires. Accessing the FCC License Management System is the easiest way. In particular, you are not charged to renew your license. Step 1: Visit Universal Licensing System

How long does a ham radio license last?

A ham radio is one of the best means of communication that you can have on the road and during emergencies. However, to operate one, you need a valid FCC license. This license expires after ten years, and you can only renew it within 90 days before it expires or two years after. Fortunately, renewing ham radio license is free and easy.

How do I get a ham radio license?

The VEC is the only legal organization authorized to conduct the ham radio licensing exams in the US. You have two options for taking the test: an in-person test and an online test. You would receive an official signed paper if you passed. You will get your license with a call sign-in PDF via your email.

Will the new ham radio license system make it easier?

While the new license system might not make it easier to get into Amateur Radio, licensed operators can move from the beginner to expert level more quickly. The Technician class license is the entry-level license of choice for most new ham radio operators.

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