The FCC’s New Fee’s and Me

The FCC is implementing a new Fee Schedule that will go into effect April 19th, 2022. The ARRL has done a pretty good job at explaining the changes overall in the following article: 

However, there were some questions that came up locally regarding the overall process and total costs involved for prospective hams, and out of the conversation arose some good advice for all Hams at renewal or upgrade time that we wanted to share with the group. 

One thing not being advertised as much about this change is that there is also a new version of the FCC registration system (CORES). This system allows for better management of FRNs (as it allows one account to manage multiple FRN’s) and will eventually replace the old system as it’s phased out. More info about the old vs new systems:

For Prospective Hams

Overall Costs 

The FCC fee for Amateur Radio licenses is now $35, this fee will be paid directly to the FCC via their website after successfully passing one or more exam elements. However the provisions for VEC testing fees have not changed, so a VE team may still charge up to $15 for a testing session. 

This means that the overall cost to a prospective Amateur is now between $35 -$50 depending on the VE team they choose to test with. 

The Process

1). The overall process, when ready to test, will start by creating a new account with the FCC in the CORES system and to request an FRN. This FRN request/registration is free. 


2)Once assigned an FRN the prospective Operator will take the FRN to the VE testing session, if applicable pay their $15 testing fee, and sit the exams as normal.  

3) Provided they pass one or more of the exam elements the VE will proceed through the normal process of submitting information to the ARRL/FCC. 

4) Once the FCC has processed the application they will email the prospective licensee regarding their pending application. The $35 fee will then need to be paid within 10 days of this FCC email notification of pending license grant.

For current Hams

New FEE Schedule

$35 FEE: new, renewal, rule waiver, and modification applications that request a new vanity call sign. The fee will be per application.

NO FEE: administrative updates, such as a change of name, mailing or email address, modification applications to upgrade an amateur radio licensee’s operator class or to request a sequentially issued call sign and license cancellation. 


Since the legacy CORES system will be going away in the future, Our advice is to go to the new site below and register with the new CORES system and associate your old FRN to the new account. It only takes a few min to complete and there are a number of ways to associate your FRN with your new account, but the easiest is to have your old FRN and Password handy.  The old registration system will go away eventually, so you’ll want to do it before the legacy site disappears or you might run into more trouble at renewal time associating your FRN with a slower method.

New CORES Site:

More Information

The FCC Docket regarding these changes is located here if you would like to see the new fee schedules as well as the reasoning behind the changes from the FCC itself.

They did a lot of re-work to the licensing fees across the board in both Personal services such as GMRS and Amateur Radio as well as Commercial services. Some groups like GMRS pay less now and some others like us pay a new fee depending on where you or your organizational entity fall in the fee structure.