Sunday, May 1, 2016

Radio Licensing

--Blogpost written by Bob

As a boater, if you remain in the USA you don't need a radio operators license nor a call sign for your ship's VHF radios--you simply use your boat's name for identification.  However, if you are making international voyages (like to the Bahamas, Canada, Mexico, or other countries) the FCC requires that you have a call sign for identification.  (I wonder how many cruisers know about this requirement and comply with it.)  I recently completed all the application forms for my operator's license (good for lifetime) and our ship's station license (good for 10 years and it can be renewed).  

$215!!!  Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

In addition to obtaining an FCC Registration Number (FRN) on-line (using FCC Form 160), completion of the following FCC forms was required:

The collection of fees for FCC licensing started in 1989.  The fees collected go into the government's general funds--not to the FCC to support their operation.  So, the fees, in reality, are simply a tax.

An image of the FCC website dealing with radio licensing.
(The links in this image will not work since this is a screen shot.)

Getting the FRN on-line was easy.  Simply fill out FCC Form 160.

However, I was not able to fill out any of the other required forms on-line because it wasn't possible to fill in the blanks on the PDF forms.  I had to print them out, manually fill in the blanks, and send them to the FCC with authorization to charge my credit card $215.

I'll make an addendum to this blogpost when I receive my operator's license and ship's station license.

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Addendum - May 10

Our radio license arrived today after only 10 days!  Actually we got an email today notifying us that our license was available online.  We printed out a portion of it to post it in our navigation station:

This image is a partial copy of our new radio license.

Addendum - May 25

Well, I wasn't finished with the process!  Even though I had a restricted radio operator's license a long time ago and they are good for your lifetime, the FCC had no way of looking it up using my name.  So, I had to apply for a new restricted radio operator's license--another $65!  I made the application on line and had the new new operator's license the following day.

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