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Amateur Radio Applications Piling Up as Partial Government Shutdown Continues


Volunteer Examiner Coordinators across the US are continuing to receive paperwork from Amateur Radio exam sessions held during the partial government shutdown. While it’s still possible to access the Universal Licensing System (ULS) and file applications, the FCC is not processing individual, club, and exam session — new and upgrade — Amateur Radio applications. The FCC closed most operations on January 3, when available funding ran out. According to the FCC public notice, aside from a few emergency and auction-filing systems, all other Commission electronic filing systems will be unavailable to the public until normal agency operations resume.

“Nothing’s moving until the FCC reopens,” said ARRL VEC Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM. “ARRL VEC continues to enter exam session, individual, and club license data into the system while we wait for the FCC to reopen and normal agency operations to resume. We have approximately 1,600 applications and 125 exam sessions waiting in the queue to be processed. Everything’s in there ready to go.”

Somma stressed that, although license upgrade applications are still on hold, current FCC Amateur Radio licensees who have successfully upgraded and hold a Certificate of Successful Completion of Examination (CSCE) may operate temporarily using the privileges of their new license class, until their new licenses are granted.

Even though it’s not possible for the FCC to grant a new license, a license upgrade, a change of address or other modification, or a vanity call sign application, the Commission Registration System (CORES) remains functional to allow critical radio services to obtain FRNs and file applications during the shutdown. Registering a user name and logging into CORES is required to apply for and receive an FCC Registration Number (FRN). An FRN is a unique 10-digit identifier necessary to conduct business with the FCC and to manage existing FRNs. The FCC said that starting in March, users who already have an FRN from the legacy Commission Registration System will need to create a user name to continue managing their FRNs.

If an Amateur Radio license recently has expired or is about to expire, the licensee can apply for license renewal via the ULS and continue to operate while the FCC is closed. The filed application will remain in limbo until the FCC is back to work. Licensee who wait until the FCC reopens to apply then will have 2 days to submit a renewal application before the license is considered to have expired in the FCC database.

The FCC has said it would not automatically extend deadlines in cases where the license has expired and the 2-year grace period has expired, but said it would “consider whether it is appropriate to do so once normal operations resume.” 



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