FCC License Info

SARA FCC License Info ~ last update: 14 Oct 2023

FCC Universal Licensing System [ULS]

The ULS is a database of the Federal Communications Commission [FCC] to track information on all radio licensing. In general, you will probably be interested in the 'Amateur Radio Service', but all the commercial stations are there as well. You can take some time and search till you find whatever you desire.

To get an 'Official Copy' of your Ham Radio License, follow these steps:

The FCC stopped sending paper copies of licenses for radio amateurs. However many wish to have a 'proper' copy to display. You can also use this database to check on your new license or upgrade status or to just 'search around' the database! The following is the process to get a copy of your license.

Hint: You an look for "any call sign" in the US system (not just amateur call). Also, change what you are searching on (say a "name"). Look at commercial AM and FM radio station information.

CORES and FRN System

FCC Federal Registration Number System [FRN]

You MUST register with the FCC to obtain or change an amateur radio license. FRN systems were deployed into the Amateur Service on August 16, 1999. To conduct business with the FCC, you must register through the FCC COmission REgistration System [CORES]. When getting a FRN you will start in the CORES system.

You will be assigned a Federal Registration Number (FRN). This number will be used to uniquely identify you in all transactions with the FCC {current and future}. Registration is required before you sit for any exam ~ no FRN = no testing! This is to ensure your license is processed quickly and accurately through the FCC's ULS (Universal Licensing System). To do this you register through FCC CORES and be assigned a specific FRN. If you are already licensed, you have already registered ~ Check your license on the FCC database to obtain your current FRN.

View the FCC web page New Users guide to ULS for step by step instructions on the registration process. [GO to this guide to get a new FRN.] The FCC has taken great strides to make the ULS/FRN and the CORES easy to use and has devoted a section of their website to the Amateur Radio Service. A "valid e-mail" address is now a requirement (from 2021) to interface with the FCC on any issue. You should establish your method to meet this new requirement, we would suggest using a 'Gmail' or 'ARRL' based address (if already licensed) as these email reflectors can establish a long-term 'common' address at the FCC. The FCC is going 'Green' which means interfacing with them will become 'all electronic' and if your e-mail goes invalid then your license will be terminated. It is important that you keep this address updated, thus the hint to use a stable email reflector for this process. No need to change each possible email address you may have, just keep the reflector notified if/when a change is required.

You MUST bring your FRN and your registered email address with you to a test site before you are allowed to test or retest!
and since April 19, 2023 the prepayment of the $35 testing fee. Additionally, SARA charges $15.00 for each test session.

FCC Application Fee

Effective April 19, 2022 the FCC imposed a Testing Fee of $35. The $35 application fee applies to new, renewal, rule waiver, and modification applications that request a new vanity call sign. The fee is per application.

Administrative updates, such as a change of name, mailing or email address, and modification applications to upgrade an amateur radio licensee’s operator class or to request a sequentially issued call sign, are exempt from fees.

Filing Online with the FCC:  For license applicants filing online directly with the FCC in the ULS License Manager System, if a payment is required, the system will automatically direct you to the CORES system. Log in and pay the fee. CORES payment instructions

Filing with a VEC:  If paying a fee for an application filed by a VEC organization, please use the CORES FRN Registration system (CORES - Login).  The candidate will have 10 calendar days, from the date of the application file number being issued, to pay.  Login and pay as soon as the application is in the FCC system. CORES payment instructions.  

Additionally, the FCC stated that the fee for applications processed and dismissed will not be refundable. This includes vanity requests where the applicant does not receive the requested call sign. However, returned applications that are missing information will not require an additional fee, if the missing information is submitted to the FCC within the proper amount of time.


Users need to login to the COmmission REgistration System (CORES) to pay fees.

If you do not have a Username Account, set-up instructions can be found here: https://apps.fcc.gov/cores/html/Register_New_Account.htmOnce you have set up your Username Account you must link your FRN to your account. All new FRN's requested when logged into your Username Account are automatically linked to that account. If you fail to do this account linking, payment information will NOT appear under your login to CORES.


Vanity Callsign

Vanity Call Signs:  The FCC staff has suggested that applicants for vanity call signs should first ensure the call signs requested are available and eligible for their operator class and area, and then request as many call signs as the form allows to maximize their chances of receiving a call sign. Call the FCC Licensing Support Center at 877-480-3201 (Mon.-Fri. 8 a.m.-6 p.m. ET) to check a call sign(s) validity and availability. Even when a call sign does not appear in the FCC database, it may not be available for assignment.

The FCC allows you to request a 'vanity' callsign. If you wish to pursue a different call sign, you need to understand the rules required to apply. You can link to these sites for further information:

Some 'Helpful' Hints/Links:

https://apps.fcc.gov/cores/html/Register_New_Account.htm ~ Registering New FCC Username Account in CORES

You must complete create an account, complete email verification (an email will be sent to you - follow instructions in that email to confirm validity ~ must be done within 24 hours). Note: An FCC Registration Number (FRN) is not automatically associated with your FCC Username Account.   Click “Go to CORES” to access your Username Account and link an existing FRN to your Username Account or to register for a new FRN. 

https://www.fcc.gov/payment-process-uls-individual-filers ~ CORES Payment Process for Individuals

https://www.arrl.org/fcc-application-fee ~ ARRL Site - FCC Application Fee Instructions