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How to Renew Your Ham Radio License (Step-by-step Guide)

Writen by Edwin Jones

Fact checked by Andrew Wright

how to renew your ham radio license

The amateur radio license is valid for a maximum of 10 years. In fact, many people forget to renew their licenses. Fortunately, license renewal is easy and quick; Best of all, it is entirely free. So even if you have not actively used your license recently, you should renew it.

This article provides three methods on how to renew your ham radio license and more. So let’s find out which way is more convenient, using the Fcc Website, emailing FCC Form 605, or reviewing through the ARRL!

How to Check the Expiration Date of Your License

There are different ways to check the expiration of your license; These include:

Access The FCC Website

The FCC stores your amateur radio license information in its ULS (Universal Licensing System) database. To access your information, you need to adhere to the following steps:

Step 1: Visit the Fcc Website.

Step 2: Click Searching to navigate to License Search. After that, type your call sign in the text box and then choose the “SEARCH” button.

Step 3: After entering the correct call sign, you will be redirected to the web, where the term of your license is displayed.

Search For Your Callsign On QRZ.Com extracts information from the FCC ULS database. So the data on QRZ.Com and ULS must be the same. However, this requires a QRZ.Com account.

Fortunately, registration is completely free. Follow these steps to find your information:

Step 1: Visit QRZ Website first.

Step 2: Find the search box, enter your call sign there, and click “Search.”

Step 3: When the next page appears, select the “Details” tab. This tab will display information including QZR Admin, last update, class, effective, expires.

Ask ARRL To Notify You

It is possible to ask ARRL to notify you when the license is about to expire. To get this privilege, you need to be an ARRL member. Here is how:

Step 1: Visit ARRL Website, then log in to your ARRL account.

Step 2: Choose “Edit your profile.”

Step 3: Select the “Edit Email Subscriptions” tab when the profile page appears; Then choose “Notification of license expiration.” From then on, ARRL will send you an email ninety days before the license expires.

3 Easy Ways to Renew Your Ham Radio License (Detailed Instructions)


Once you find out when your license expires, it is possible to renew your license in several ways. Ham radio license renewal is usually quite fast. However, keep in mind that you can only renew your license ninety days before it expires or within two years after your license expires.

Renewing Ham Radio License Through The Fcc Website

Accessing the FCC License Management System is the easiest way. In particular, you are not charged to renew your license.

Step 1: Visit Universal Licensing System

Step 2: Select “Filing,” then choose “File Online.” Next, sign in to the account. In case you do not have an account, create one first.

Step 3: After successfully logging into your FCC account, enter your FRN (FCC Registration Number) and password; Then press “SUBMIT.”

Step 4: When the “My Licenses” page appears, select the “Renew Licenses” link. After that, select the license and renew it.

Renewing Ham Radio License Through Mail

This method requires that you send FCC Form 605 to the FCC.

Step 1: Download FCC Form 605

Step 2: Fill this form and send it to FCC, 1270 Fairfield Rd, Gettysburg PA 17325-7245. It may take some weeks for your renewal request to be processed.

Renewing Ham Radio License Through the ARRL

Only ARRL members can use this method. All you need to do is submit Form 605 NCVEC to ARRL VEC, which is entirely free for ARRL members.

You may have to wait a few days for your license renewal request to be processed.

Note: It is possible to renew the license even if it has expired. However, you need to make sure that your license has not expired for more than two years.

How to Get a Ham Radio License

If you do not have a license and want to get one, stick to these three steps:

Step 1: Select the License Level

The FCC offers three types of licenses:

  • Level 1: Technician License
  • Level 2: General License
  • Level 3: Amateur Extra License

You will have to pass a test for each level and start from the lowest level – Technician.

Step 2: Prepare For The Test

Once you have chosen the license, it is time to prepare for the exam.

It will take you about 10 hours to study for the Technician License Exam (The entry-level). The Technician test has 35 questions, and the General License test is the same. Meanwhile, the Amateur Extra test comes with 50 questions. You must score at least 74% to pass each test; meaning you have to answer 26 questions correctly for the Technician and General License exams.

On the other hand, the study material is essential to improve your knowledge; They are also beneficial for tests. So, most people decide to invest in the study material. For a Technician license, by our estimate, the average cost for study materials is $40.

Step 3: Complete Your Test

Finally, you need to pass the test by the VEC. The VEC is the only legal organization authorized to conduct the ham radio licensing exams in the US.

You have two options for taking the test: an in-person test and an online test.

Step 4: Get The License

You would receive an official signed paper if you passed. You will get your license with a call sign-in PDF via your email.

You do not even have to wait for the license to arrive; Instead, it is possible to begin as soon as you find your name in the FCC database. Then you can chat with amateurs or start practicing for disasters.

Do You Need to Retake the Exam to Renew Your Degree

If you let your license expire for more than two years, it is essential to complete the Factor 2 test (Technician Class) to receive another license. If you were previously licensed with a Technician Class license, you would receive a Technician Class license after passing that test. This is the same for General Class licenses and Extra Class licenses.

Frequently Asked Questions


Can I take the ham radio license test remotely?

The short answer is yes.

According to a public notice from the FCC, you can remotely take the ham radio license test.

Volunteer Exam Coordinators will administer ham radio license tests. Some VECs provide remote tests; Some others have not yet. To take the ham radio license test remotely, you will need to meet some conditions such as making the required setup with a webcam, Zoom meeting, etc. Each VEC has its own detailed instructions and requirements.

What are the three levels of ham radio license?

Three types of ham radio licenses are being granted today: Technician, General, and Amateur Extra. You will have to pass a test for each level and start from the lowest level – Technician.

How long does it take to renew my ham radio license?

In most cases, the FCC processes renewal and licensing requests in no more than 18 days. The FCC accepts renewal requests electronically through their ULS License Management System.

Is it hard to get a ham radio license?

Getting a ham radio license is easy, but it is essential to study first. In most cases, it will take you about 10 hours to study.

Can I renew amateur radio license online?

Yes, it is possible to renew ham radio license online. The instructions have been introduced in the sections above; please scroll up for more references.


Hopefully, this article helps you better understand the ham radio license and how to renew your ham radio license.

In short, there are many ways to renew your license without any fees. However, it is essential not to let your license expire for more than two years; Otherwise, you will have to complete the Factor 2 test (Technician Class) to receive another license.


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