Tue. Apr 20th, 2021

UPDATE: The FCC Part 97 rules establishing a new $35 amateur radio application fee go on the books on April 19, but the FCC won’t start collecting the fee “until the requisite notice has been provided to Congress, the FCC’s information technology systems and internal procedures have been updated, and the Commission publishes notice(s) in the Federal Register announcing the effective date of such rules.” When effective, the fee will apply to new, modification (upgrade and sequential call sign change), renewal, and vanity call sign applications, as well as applications for a special temporary authority (STA) or a rule waiver. Fees will be collected per application. The FCC exempted from the fee applications for administrative updates, such as a change of mailing or email address. The FCC proposed a schedule of application and other fees for all services last year.

Last year the FCC announced new license application fees for various radio services, including the Amateur Radio Service and the GMRS. While the announcement received mixed response from the users of these services, it also created some confusion as to exactly when these new fees would begin to be enforced. Now, we have a firm date. The new FCC license fees will take effect in April, 2021.

On December 29, 2021 the FCC issued a FCC Report and Order announcing the new fees. According to the document, the fee for an amateur radio technician, general or extra license, which previously was without charge, will now cost $35. The fee will apply to vanity call signs as well. The cost of a GMRS license will decrease from $70 to only $35. The licenses for both services are valid for 10 years.

The Schedule of Application Fees of the Commission’s Rules was published in the Federal Register March 19, 2021. According to the notice, the fees officially take effect on April 19, 2021.

If you are planning to obtain a ham radio license or vanity call sign, you have until this date to do so without incurring the new $35 fee. If you want to buy a GMRS license and pay the lower fee, you may want to wait until after April 19, 2021 apply.

By David Bate

Canadian amateur radio operator since 2007. Operating on the VHF/UHF bands and local repeaters in the Durham Region area. Husband and the father of four.