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License Renewal Process

When to renew

The amateur radio license issued by the FCC is valid for 10 years. That's a long time!

You may renew your license anytime from 90 days before expiration to 2 years after. During this 2-year grace period you may renew your license without penalty.

Note that once your license expires, you may not transmit until your license has been renewed and your valid operational status appears on the FCC's web site.

What if I blow it?

If you don't renew within the grace period, you lose your license and have to apply for a new one, essentially starting over. To apply for a new license, you will have to take the Technician Class license exam again.

Note that if you hold a more advanced license, such as General or Amateur Extra, you do not have to retake those test elements -- only the first -- if you can provide proof that you once held the higher class. Proof is pretty easy nowadays, since the FCC already has a record of it....

Check your expiration

Your paper license has the expiration date printed on it.

You can also check online. The FCC provides a license search page, or you can find your license information at one of the many other convenient sites that scrape FCC info, such as (After entering your call sign in the QRZ page, go to the "Detail" tab to see your expiration date; this page also contains a convenient link to the FCC's record of your license.

QRZ detail page for AD7UF

As the date of expiration draws near, you may also receive mailings from various groups offering to help you renew -- which leads us to...

Renewal is free!

If some group sends you a mailing telling you to renew your license, chances are really good that they're trying to make money off you by renewing on your behalf. The FCC does not charge for license renewal. The process is pretty easy, and there's not a need to pay a middle man. Some worthy groups may offer the service as a fundraiser; other entities are 100% profit-makers who offer no value to the community beyond sending the reminders. So you may choose to support your local radio club with a donation, but you don't have to pay $6 to renew your license, and you most certainly don't have to buy a $50 ARRL membership to renew your license!

How to renew

The FCC has a page entitled: Common Amateur Filing Task: Renewing A License. After noting "No Fee Charged", you'll see that you can do it both manually by mailing in a Form 605, or you can do it electronically through their Universal Licensing System (ULS); they provide links to help with both methods. This tutorial will focus on the ULS.

The same general procedure is used to update license information, such as your address.

The first step is to head to the FCC ULS page. A web search for FCC ULS will likely show this page as the top hit.

ULS Page

Click "File Online" to be taken to the License Manager Log In page. This is where you log in using your FRN (FCC Registration Number) and your password.

After logging in, see "My Licenses", several sections below.

What? FRN? Password? I don't have that!

Your FRN is your permanent FCC Registration number, and identifies you as a person, and may be associated with many different licenses, applications, etc.  When you were first licensed, the FCC may have sent you information about registering using CORES, the COmmission REgistration System. When you register, you receive your FRN.

Do I have an FRN?

Below the login button are several helpful links. As the 3rd one suggests, the results of your license search will show your FRN, if you have one.

AD7UF license query result

If you don't have an FRN, click the appropriate link to register and receive one!

Retrieving your Password

Clicking the link by "forgot your password?" will take you to the support services page.

Available Support Services
From there, you can go to the password reset page:
FRN Password reset
If you haven't visited CORES in recent decades, you may see something like this:
"Need PSQ" message

In this case, you'll need to authenticate w/ your SSN and other identifying information, and choose a Personal Security Question (PSQ).

PSQ screen 1 where you enter your TIN (SSN)
Of course with the question, you need to provide an answer...
PSQ Answer
When done, you'll receive the confirmation:
"Password updated" confirmation

My Licenses

Once you successfully log in, you'll see a list of your licenses.

List of licenses

Click the appropriate license (you probably only have one)

License details w/ renewal link

Find the "Renew" link on the right.

"Select Updates" page

From here it's just a few more clicks.

Scary "fees" options
No you're not exempt, but don't worry.  Almost there...
Info Review page
You'll need to type your name to "sign" the statement. Type "Licensee" in the Title field.
At last you'll be rewarded with a confirmation of your renewal filing.

All done! After filing, it will likely take a day or two for your renewal to show up.