FCC Looks to Raise Vanity Call Sign Fees for Second Consecutive Year
The FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Order (NPRM) on May 14 seeking to raise fees for Amateur Radio vanity call signs. Currently, a vanity call sign costs $12.30 and is good for 10 years; the new fee, if the FCC plan goes through, will go up to $13.40 for 10 years, an increase of $1.10. The FCC is authorized by the Communications Act of 1934 (as amended) to collect vanity call sign fees to recover the costs associated with that program. The vanity call sign regulatory fee is payable not only when applying for a new vanity call sign, but also upon renewing a vanity call sign for a new term. Instructions on how to comment on this NPRM are available on the FCC Web site.
The vanity call sign fee has fluctuated over the 12 years of the current program -- from a low of $11.70 in 2007 to a high of $70 (as first proposed in the FCC's 1994 Report and Order). In 2007, the Commission lowered the fee from $20.80 to $11.70. The FCC said it anticipates some 15,000 Amateur Radio vanity call sign "payment units" or applications during the next fiscal year, collecting $201,000 in fees from the program.
Vanity Fee Due for New, Renewal Applications
The vanity call sign regulatory fee is payable not only when applying for a new vanity call sign, but also upon renewing a vanity call sign for a new term. The first vanity call sign licenses issued under the current Amateur Radio vanity call sign program that began in 1996 came up for renewal three years ago.
Those holding vanity call signs issued prior to 1996 are exempt from having to pay the vanity call sign regulatory fee at renewal, however. That's because Congress did not authorize the FCC to collect regulatory fees until 1993. Such "heritage" vanity call sign holders do not appear as vanity licensees in the FCC Amateur Radio database.
Amateur Radio licensees may file for renewal only within 90 days of their license expiration date. All radio amateurs must have an FCC Registration Number (FRN) before filing any application with the Commission. Applicants can obtain an FRN by going to the ULS and clicking on the "New Users Register" link. You must supply your Social Security Number to obtain an FRN.
ARRL Processes License Renewals, Including Vanities
The ARRL VEC will process license renewals for vanity call sign holders for a modest fee. The service is available to ARRL members and nonmembers, although League members pay less. Routine, non-vanity renewals continue to be free for ARRL members. Trustees of club stations with vanity call signs may renew either via the ULS or through a Club Station Call Sign Administrator, such as ARRL VEC.
League members should visit the "ARRL Member Instructions for License Renewals or Changes" page, while the "Instructions for License Renewals or Changes" page covers general renewal procedures for nonmembers. There is additional information on the ARRL VEC's "FCC License Renewals and ARRL License Expiration Notices" page.