FCC Universal Licensing System (ULS) for ham radio

How to Renew Your Ham Radio License

Understanding Ham Radio Licenses

Before we dive into the renewal process, let’s first understand the different types of ham radio licenses:

License ClassPrivilegesRequirements
TechnicianVHF and UHF bands, limited HF privilegesPass 35-question exam
GeneralAll VHF/UHF amateur bands, most HF privilegesPass 35-question exam, hold Technician license
Amateur ExtraAll amateur radio privileges on all bandsPass 50-question exam, hold General license

It’s crucial to know your license class and expiration date to ensure timely renewal.

When to Renew Your License

Ham radio licenses are valid for 10 years from the date of issuance or renewal. It’s essential to renew your license before it expires to maintain your privileges and avoid any lapses in your ability to operate.

The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) allows you to renew your license up to 90 days before expiration. I recommend starting the renewal process at least 60 days before your license expires to allow ample time for processing and to account for any potential delays.

Renewal Methods

There are two primary methods for renewing your ham radio license:

  1. Online renewal via the FCC’s Universal Licensing System (ULS)
  2. Paper renewal by mail

Amateur radio continuing education opportunities

The easiest and most efficient way to renew your license is through the FCC’s online Universal Licensing System (ULS). Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Go to the FCC ULS website and log in using your FCC Registration Number (FRN) and password.
  2. Click on the “Online Filing” tab, then select “Renew Licenses” from the drop-down menu.
  3. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the renewal application.
  4. Pay the required fee using a credit card or electronic payment.
  5. Submit your application and wait for confirmation of your renewed license.

Paper Renewal

If you prefer to renew by mail, follow these steps:

  1. Download Form 605 from the FCC website.
  2. Fill out the form, ensuring all information is accurate and up-to-date.
  3. Include a check or money order for the renewal fee, payable to the “FCC.”
  4. Mail the completed form and payment to:

    Federal Communications Commission
    1270 Fairfield Road
    Gettysburg, PA 17325-7245

  5. Wait for your renewed license to arrive by mail.

Renewal Fees

As of 2023, the FCC charges a fee of $35 for ham radio license renewals, regardless of the license class. This fee is subject to change, so always check the FCC website for the most current information.

Continuing Education

While not required for license renewal, I strongly recommend staying up-to-date with the latest developments in amateur radio through continuing education. Consider:

  • Attending ham radio conventions and workshops
  • Participating in local club activities
  • Engaging in online forums and discussion groups
  • Reading amateur radio publications

Staying informed and engaged in the hobby will not only enhance your enjoyment but also demonstrate your commitment to excellence in the field.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

To ensure a smooth renewal process, avoid these common mistakes:

  1. Waiting until the last minute: Start the renewal process at least 60 days before expiration.
  2. Incorrect or outdated information: Verify that all personal and contact information on your renewal application is accurate.
  3. Forgetting to pay the fee: Include the correct renewal fee with your application to avoid delays.
  4. Not checking the status: Monitor the progress of your renewal application and follow up if necessary.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What happens if I let my ham radio license expire?
A: If your license expires, you’ll need to retake the exam for your license class to regain your privileges.

Q: Can I renew my license after it expires?
A: Yes, but you’ll need to pay an additional late fee and may face a temporary lapse in your operating privileges.

Q: Do I need to retake the exam to renew my license?
A: No, you don’t need to retake the exam as long as you renew before your license expires.

Q: How long does the online renewal process take?
A: Online renewals are typically processed within 1-2 business days, but allow up to a week for confirmation.


Renewing your ham radio license is a straightforward process that ensures you can continue enjoying the hobby without interruption. By starting the renewal process early, verifying your information, and staying engaged through continuing education, you’ll demonstrate your expertise and commitment to amateur radio.

Remember, as a ham radio operator, you’re part of a vibrant community of enthusiasts who share a passion for communication and public service. By renewing your license, you’re not only maintaining your privileges but also contributing to the growth and vitality of the hobby.

If you have any further questions or need assistance with the renewal process, don’t hesitate to reach out to your local amateur radio club or the FCC for guidance.

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