How to renew a ham radio license

Written by alan craig
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How to renew a ham radio license
A ham radio license is required to transmit on amateur radio frequencies. (radio aerial image by Dubravko Grakalic from

Ham radio, also known as amateur radio, is one of very few hobbies that are regulated by the federal government. In order to transmit a signal over the airwaves you must have a license issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The FCC issues different classes of licenses that offer different privileges and each requires passing a different test. All ham licenses are issued for 10 years. You may renew your license within 90 days before it expires, or within two years after it has expired. You may not transmit if your license has expired.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Register on the FCC Universal Licensing System to obtain an FCC Registration Number (FRN) and password. In order to accomplish this, click on the "REGISTER" button on the FCC Registration page and fill in the required information. It will ask for basic information such as your address and license class and will also require your social security number. If you already have an FRN, keep it and your FCC password handy for the next step.

  2. 2

    Click on the "LOG IN" button on the FCC Universal Licensing System page. Fill in the form with your FCC Registration Number and password and click the "SUBMIT" button.

  3. 3

    Click the "Renew" link in the "Work on this License" menu. Note that if your license expiration date is not within the time frame allowed for renewals the link will not be present.

  4. 4

    Check to be sure that all of the information on the page is correct. If not, enter any changes that need to be made.

  5. 5

    Follow the prompts and fill in or correct any information that is required.

  6. 6

    Click on the "Continue to Certify" button when you have filled in all of the required information.

  7. 7

    Sign the application by typing your first and last name in the boxes at the bottom of the page. Click on the "Submit Application" button.

  8. 8

    Print a copy of the confirmation page for your records.

Tips and warnings

  • Keep a copy of your FRN and password with your station records to make it easy to renew the next time.
  • Don't transmit if your license has expired even if you have applied for renewal.
  • The expiration date on your license is public information. You may receive mail from services offering to renew your license for a fee. It is just as easy to renew it yourself, for free, as it is to use a renewal service.

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