Hello everybody and welcome back to Everything Hamradio! On the 5th of this month, I posted an article about the Vanity Call Sign system. In that post, I said that I would write a post about how to renew your license in my next post; unfortunately, the FCC ULS was down that weekend and didn’t come up until the 10th, so I had to postpone it, until now.
As it states in Part 97, you can only renew within 90 days of your expiration date and up to 2 years after your license expires. There is two ways that your can renew your license. The first is to go through one of the Volunteer Examiner Coordinators(W5YI or the ARRL) the second is to go straight to the ULS and register it yourself. The ARRL will not charge your to renew your license through them if you are an ARRL member, however if you are not a member there is a $15 charge. You can also only renew by mail through the ARRL. If this is method that you choose, you will need to fill out a NCVEC Form 605 Application and then mail it to ARRL VEC , 225 Main Street, Newington, CT 06111 USA.
Another way to renew your license is to go through the W5YI Group. I believe that you can renew online through them, by going to this page, putting in your call sign and then following the instructions. Going through W5YI, they charge $8. I’m not sure if that $8 is only charged if you change your address or not.
Do It Yourself
The last way to do it, and probably the easiest is to go through the FCC ULS! This link will take you to the first page of the ULS process.
Now, before we go any further, there is a couple things that you need to know. In order to log in, you will need a FRN number.
If you have already registered, but you don’t remember what it is, you can look it up by clicking on the Licenses link in the Search area on the above screen, this will take you to this screen:
Just enter your call sign in the search box and click on search. The next screen that shows up will look like the one below. It will have your call sign, name, expiration date FRN Number and more.
Once you know what your FRN number is, you just need to log in, and if you can’t remember what your password is, you can reset it with the link provided on the login page.
Once you get logged in, this is what you will see:
There are really only about four of the links on this page that you will use as an amateur radio operator: Renew Licenses, Update Licenses, Request Vanity Call Sign, and maybe Request Duplicates. The last one you probably wont use, since the FCC is not issuing paper licenses anymore, at least to hams.
So let’s get our license renewed, shall we?
After you click on the Renew License link, this is the screen that will come up. If you license is eligible for renewal you will see your call sign in the box on the left titled My Licenses. If you do, click on your call sign and click the Add button. That will move your call sign to the box on the right. Once you do that, click on the continue button at the bottom of the page.
The next screen that comes up should look like the picture below. It will have the call sign that you selected, as well as all your personal information: Name, Address, Phone Number, Email, etc. If you need to change your name or address as well as renewing your license, check the box next to Licensee Name and Address. This will allow you to edit your information. If all is good on this page, click on the Continue button at the bottom.
This is the next screen that you come to. Most, if not all, hams can just leave these two options as the are. Click Continue.
Once you get to this page, your on the homeward stretch. Unfortunately, this is as far as I could get because I still have another seven years until I can renew. However, as you can see from the picture below, this page will summarize all the pages before and will give you the Total Fees that you will need to pay for. If memory serves me correctly, if you have fees due, once you click on Continue, it will take you to a page where you can enter your credit card information.
I Want a Vanity Call Sign!
So you want a Vanity Call Sign huh? Yea I don’t blame you. So how do you get one? On the initial screen after you log into the ULS, on the right column you will see a link that says, “Request a Vanity Call Sign”, Once you click there you will see the below screen:
On this page, most, if not all, amateur radio operators should be able to leave these to as the are defaulted. Click on Continue and it will take you to the screen below. On this screen there are three options. The first is the normal option, this will assign you a call sign from a list of up to 25 that you will enter on the next screen. This is probably what most people will select on this page.
The second option is if you are requesting a call sign that a close family member previously had, but is currently deceased. There are limitations to the “close relative” criteria, see my post on the Vanity Call Sign System for more information.
The last option is, if you are requesting a call sign that you already had. Let’s say for example that you use to have the call sign W5JIL and for whatever reason you applied and were granted the call sign of K5JIL. After you have had the K5JIL call sign you realize that you liked the W5JIL call sign better. You can go back to the ULS and request the W5JIL call sign back. If you are requesting a vanity call sign that you had before, I not sure if there is any certain eligibility time frame. I know with your initially issued call sign, it probably wouldn’t be reassigned and you can get it back. If you are trying to get a vanity call sign back, if someone else doesn’t have it already then you could get it back. I believe that there is a two-year wait period after you change your call sign before someone else get its, but I’m not sure.
If you choose the second or third choice, the next screen will just have one box where you put in just the one call sign that you are wanting. However, if you select the first option like most people will, you will get a page like the one below. It has 25 boxes that you can put up to 25 different call signs. The FCC will give you the first one that is available in order, so make sure that you put them in order of the way that you want them.
After you have entered your choices, press the continue button. On the next screen you will have the option to change your name or address on your call sign. Make any changes that you need to make and press the continue button. It will then take you to the summary screen and give you an overview of all the information that you have put in over the past few screens, and however much money that you need to pay. With the charge for Vanity Call Signs, gone as of this month, the only charge that you will have is just the renewal fee, if there is one.
Time to Wrap It Up
So I guess that’s about it. I hope it is pretty clear about how to renew your license, or apply for a vanity call sign. I hope that there isn’t anything past the Summary pages on each that isn’t easy to understand as I can get to any of those pages since my license isn’t up for renewal yet.
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Until next time…
73 de Curtis, K5CLM