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ARRL VEC Reminds License Applicants: The FCC is Now Paperless!


[UPDATED: 2015-09-22 @2125 UTC] The ARRL VEC is reminding Amateur Radio license applicants that the FCC no longer routinely prints or mails license documents. In an effort to streamline its procedures and save money, the FCC went “paperless” in February 2015.

“Customer contact with the VEC has tripled since this change, as many amateurs have not heard of the change or do not understand the FCC procedures for obtaining a license copy,” said ARRL VEC Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM. She said the most frequently asked question comes from Universal Licensing System users who have applied for renewal or modification, but then think the transaction was not completed because they did not get a new copy of their license in the mail.

“Once we look up the info, our answer is nearly always that the requested transaction actually was completed and appears in the FCC database, but they won’t be getting a copy of the updated license in the mail,” Somma said. Less frequently, her department is hearing from exam applicants who ask why they did not receive a copy of their license after they passed the test.

To help clear up any confusion, she has created an Obtain License Copy web page devoted to explaining the various ways a license holder can get an official license document from the FCC. An official license displays the FCC logo and the watermark “Official Copy” across each page. As a money saver, the FCC no longer uses distinctive paper stock to print hard copy licenses, and instead uses standard, white recycled paper. A printer friendly version of the instructions is available on the ARRL website.

Somma said the easiest way for a license holder to obtain a license copy is to call the FCC at (877) 480-3201.

Licensees also can download and print their own official license copy by logging into the Universal Licensing System (ULS) using their FCC Registration Number (FRN) and password, then clicking on “Download Electronic Authorizations” in the menu on the left. The ULS also has added a green informational banner that says, “Change your paper authorization preferences here, or download your official electronic authorizations now.” Somma points out that the green banner is only temporary, and it eventually will go away.

At least for now, though, clicking the “here” hyperlink will take you to the Paper Authorization Preferences” page. To continue receiving paper license documents click “Yes.” Clicking the “now” hyperlink will take you to the “Download Authorizations” page.

On the “Download Authorizations” page, scroll down to the “Filter by Radio Service” box (remember, the ULS is not just for the Amateur Service). First, highlight your call sign and then click “ADD>” to put your call sign into the “Authorizations to Download” column. Scroll down a little further and click “DOWNLOAD>” to create an official FCC license PDF document that can be saved or printed.

When modifying, renewing, or requesting a duplicate license copy, a licensee who already has an FCC Registration Number (FRN) and provides a valid e-mail address under “Applicant Information” while logged into the ULS system will receive an official ULS-generated electronic authorization via e-mail.

All Amateur Radio exam applicants should include a valid e-mail address on their NCVEC 605 form, in order to receive a copy of their license electronically.



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