Exam Element Credit

Exam Element Credit Rules and Instructions

The FCC does not offer credit for expired Amateur Radio licenses. A license that has expired and gone beyond the two year grace period will be canceled in the FCC system. The licensee will not automatically qualify for a new license. At a minimum, previous license holders must take the current 35-question Technician exam at a VE exam session to return to Amateur Radio. The FCC will issue a new call sign and a new license when the Technician exam is passed. There is one exception, FCC does offer partial credit for pre-1987 Technician licenses.  Please refer to the Pre-1987 Technician License "Grandfather" Credit section below.

  • FCC Rules Pertaining to Element Credit

    FCC Rule §97.505 Element Credit.

    (a) The administering VEs must give credit as specified below to an examinee
         holding any of the following license grants or license documents:
         (1) An unexpired (or expired but within the grace period for renewal) FCC-granted
              Advanced Class operator license grant: Elements 2 and 3.
         (2) An unexpired (or expired but within the grace period for renewal) FCC-granted
              General Class operator license grant: Elements 2 and 3.
         (3) An unexpired (or expired but within the grace period for renewal) FCC-granted
              Technician or Technician Plus Class operator (including a Technician Class
              operator license granted before February 14, 1991) license grant: Element 2.
         (4) An expired FCC-issued Technician Class operator license document granted
              before March 21, 1987;  Element 3.
         (5) A CSCE: Each element the CSCE indicates the examinee passed within the
              previous 365 days.

    (b) No examination credit, except as herein provided, shall be allowed on the basis
         of holding or having held any other license grant or document.

  • CSCEs for Exam Element Credit

    At an exam session, the VEs will review all credit documents presented by applicants. Per FCC Rule 97.505(a)(5), a Certificate of Successful Completion of Examination (CSCE) issued within the previous 365 days at a VEC sponsored exam session, is acceptable proof for the Element(s) indicated on the form.

  • Pre-1987 Technician License "Grandfather" Element Credit

    The FCC does not offer any credit for expired Novice, General, Advanced or Extra class licenses. However, per FCC Rule 97.505(a)(4), the FCC does offer partial credit to pre-1987 Technician licenses. If an applicant was ever a "Technician" prior to 3/21/1987, and has proof, the FCC will afford credit for the General (Element 3) written exam only. The FCC does not require the applicant to have been continuously licensed. At VE exam sessions it is the applicant (not the VEs or coordinating VEC) who is responsible for supplying the evidence of holding valid grandfather credit.  

    The following section explains how to verify the Technician grandfather credit status of someone eligible for such credit under Section 97.505 of FCC Rules.

  • Valid Forms of Exam Element Credit for Pre-1987 Technician Licenses

    At a test session, the VEs will review all credit documents presented by applicants.  For General written exam (Element 3) credit, persons who took a 50-question Technician/General written exam before March 21, 1987 receive Technician grandfather license credit per FCC Rules.

    This can be verified if an applicant presents any of the following:

    -- Per FCC Rule 97.505(a)(4)s, a FCC Technician license issued before March 21, 1987, as indicated on the license.

    -- An original Element 3 Certificate of Successful Completion of Examination (CSCE) issued before March 21, 1987.

    -- If licensed in the mid-'70s or after, FCC will issue a 'License Verification Letter' indicating that the applicant was licensed as a Technician licensee prior to March 21, 1987.  The FCC stated any requests for verification must be submitted in writing to:  FCC, ATTN: Amateur Section, 1270 Fairfield Rd, Gettysburg, PA 17325. The request must include name, address, telephone number, date of birth, call sign issued at that time, and when the Technician license was granted (if exact date is not known, give the approximate timeframe). The FCC asks those inquiring to include any information that may be helpful in researching these requests, but it does not need to know details of the examination session, such as where the test was administered or who gave it. "These requests must be researched on microfiche, so they will be very time-consuming," an FCC spokesperson said, adding that no one should expect an overnight response.

    -- For 1966 or more recent records, the FCC's research retrieval service contractor, Best Copy & Printing, Inc. (BCPI), will obtain the pre-1987 technician certification from FCC records. There is a charge for this service. For assistance in purchasing copies of FCC documents, please contact  BCPI directly.  Phone: 202-488-5300 or 1-800-378-3160. TTY: 202-488-5562. Fax: 202-488-5563. Email: Web:

    -- A 1987 Edition, or earlier, Radio Amateur Callbook listing is acceptable as proof provided the ' T' (Technician) license class appears on the page next to the call sign listing. Only Callbooks issued Fall 1967 or later will show the license class. Be sure to copy the year of publication reference, if not printed on the page.

    -- QRZ.COM has posted on their website a copy of their very first Amateur Radio CD ROM product as originally published in 1993. This searchable database contains license records from 1983 to 1993. A printout of such a listing from the CD ROM or the web page, showing a Technician license effective or begin date prior to 3/21/87 is acceptable.