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If I wanted a FCC Amateur license, is this going to cost me anything? That includes tests, application fees, filing fees, and anything else but hardware.

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

Fees to obtain a license are set by and payable to the volunteer examiner coordinator. They are typically small to free, and limited by §97.527 to reimbursement "for out-of-pocket expenses incurred in preparing, processing, administering, or coordinating an examination for an amateur operator license."

Some VECs and their fees:

There are many other VECs (14 in total, at time of writing), each with their own fee. Some of the smaller VECs are branches of local Ham clubs and don't charge any fee at all.

Most filings you'd have to do over the life of the license (for example, address changes, renewals) are free to file with the FCC. Most can be done online through the FCC's Universal Licensing System, so you don't even need to pay for a stamp.

One possible exception: vanity call signs currently cost \$16.10 per 10 year license period, payable to the FCC as a regulatory fee. Vanity calls are optional, and systematically assigned calls are still free.

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You might want to throw the cost of a study book into it too. – Seth Mar 27 '14 at 17:55
@Seth I think most people these days study on the internet. – Phil Frost Mar 27 '14 at 18:48

Typically yes. The only fees paid are given to the test administrator. Sometimes you'll find administrators that will volunteer to perform testing without fees, making the whole process free.

There is no licensing fee, application fee, or regulatory fee. The only fee you might have to pay is a nominal testing fee.

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In 2014 it costs $15 (sometimes less) for taking a license test with your ARRL VEC (Volunteer Examiner Committee).


A license is good for 10 years and renewal directly through the FCC is costless.

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Not always. Laurel VEC does not require a fee. They test at Hamvention, too!

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