Amateur Radio

Licensing Requirements
Legal Operation requires that an amateur operator possess a valid license granted by the FCC. For new amateur operators, there are three classes of license. Each authorizes privileges corresponding to the qualifications required. All license classes are granted privileges for ten-year terms, and are renewable.

The classes of license, from lowest to highest are:

  Amateur Extra
The licensing rules have changed over the years, reducing the number of license classes. Hams who hold licenses in deleted classes may renew those licenses indefinitely, but no new licenses for those classes are being issued.
Two valid license classes remain:
  The Novice license was introduced in 1951 with a simple 20-question test and 5-words-per-minute code exam. Originally, the license was good for a single year, at which time the Novice upgraded or had to get off the air.
  Advanced class licensees passed a written exam midway in difficulty between those for the General and Amateur Extra classes. They received frequency privileges between those of General and Amateur Extra licensees.
For a license to be granted, applicants must pass an examination administered by a team of volunteer examiners <link to volunteerexaminers< (VEs). The VEs determine the operator class for which the applicant is qualified by testing their knowledge in operating an amateur station. Most new amateur radio operators start with the Technician Class operator license (Morse code requirements no longer exists within the amateur Radio Service). Some newcomers are able to begin at the General Class, and a few even at the Amateur Extra Class.

Operating authority begins when the license grant information appears in the Amateur Radio Service database, within the FCC Universal Licensing System (ULS). Possession of a written copy of a granted license is not necessary before operating.

To request an examination, submit a completed Form WCARS-VE 605 to the administering VE Team.