Whenever someone takes an exam from the VE team I work with, we require that they have an FRN — FCC Registration Number. Why? Simply put, without an FRN, we would have to collect your Social Security number. This should probably worry you — it certainly worries us.
We require everyone to provide an FRN because we don’t want the responsibility of keeping your SSN safe.
EDIT: Some VEs have responded to this article asserting that their teams do not keep copies of the 605 form (the form your SSN goes on) and thus consider this to be unimportant for their applicants. They are missing the point; the SSN still goes through a lot of hands that aren’t known to the applicant, and in addition even if the VE team doesn’t keep copies of the 605 form, the VEC does.
I have spoken with the staff of several of the VEC companies, and I trust them as much as I would any corporation (more than almost any other, likely), but even the best intentioned make mistakes. That which isn’t in their archives cannot be lost, stolen, or otherwise compromised.
When should you get one
If you are planning to take a ham radio license exam, you should get an FRN number. If the test session does registration using HamStudy, you will get one as part of the registration process (and you may have gotten here from there). Either way, get one now.
Click here to register for a new FRN
NOTE: If you got here from HamStudy.org session registration, ignore these steps and scroll to the end to see what the FRN number looks like when you’re done, then go back to your registration on HamStudy.org. That process is *far* easier and just as secure.
First, you’ll see a question about what type you are registering as. Select “An Individual” and click “Continue”
You will now be presented with a dauntingly long form asking for all your personal information. The good news is that this is a secure website run by the FCC, so it’s as secure as it can be. Fill out all fields with a red asterisk (*) by them as well as the Social Security Number field.
The main “gotcha” on this form is the password. It has to be at least 6 characters long, and it has to have characters from at least 3 of 4 groups — those groups are Uppercase letters, Lowercase letters, Numbers, and Special Characters (like @#$%^*&?, etc). Anything else will be rejected with an error at the top:
Once you have completed filling out the form, it will look something like this:
At this point, you should click “SUBMIT”. If all goes well, you’ll see the following:
There on the second line of the main text, you will see your FRN number. Here it is again with the FRN number highlighted:
Congratulations! Print this for your records and take it with you to your test session.
Some people may not see the screen above. They may see this screen instead:
What this means is that for whatever reason, you already have an FRN number. Some possible reasons you might have an FRN and not remember include:
- You have a pilots license
- You have another type of license from the FCC (such as a GMRS license)
- You have previously held a ham radio license
- You have previously registered for a FRN and just forgot (this happens more than you’d think)
Whatever the reason, you have two choices. The first is to say “Submit” and get another one. I don’t really recommend this unless you have first tried the second option, which is to look it up.
You can look up your FRN number here. I generally recommend you look it up by Contact Name and State. Quite by accident (okay, not really, I fiddle with things a lot) I discovered that hardly any of the “required” fields actually are. For example, you can look up my FRN number like this:
Now, unlike radio license information, FRN information is not all public. About all you’ll see is the name, FRN number, and date. If you aren’t sure it’s your number you should probably just create a new one.
Hope this helps you all!
By Get an FRN! - KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog July 23, 2014 - 18:00
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By Carolyn Jordan September 20, 2014 - 10:07
I read all the information, How do I get the FRN Number or at what web site? The above information was very helpful. Thanks
By kd7bbc September 20, 2014 - 10:40
The link is in the article, where it says “click here to register”, etc
By G4JLT February 4, 2015 - 06:52
I have a Class ‘A’ UK License, can you please tell me how I can obtain a reciprocal US License, since the process is not clear.
By kd7bbc February 5, 2015 - 14:59
I do not know the answer to this question. If it were me, I’d post the question on the amateurradio subreddit as there are a lot of knowledgable folks there that may know. I’ve gotten help about other reciprocal type of things there.
I can tell you that if you are able to get a valid FRN number (which requires a US tax id) then you can take the tests, but that’s the closest I’ve ever dealt with to your question. If you find out, I’d love to know the answer myself. You could even write it up as a blog post here for others in a similar position, if you want!
As an amusing side-note, I’m writing this while sitting in a hotel room in London. I do not, unfortunately, have my radios with me.
By Joe Burden April 14, 2020 - 20:09
I found my FRN number and am sure that it is mine. I have an expired Technicians license that expired somewhere around 2011. Do I need to review my personal information somewhere in the database and update address, etc? If so, how?
By kd7bbc April 14, 2020 - 21:07
When you next use it on an FCC application (such as a amateur radio license application) it should get updated at that time. You can probably log into CORES somehow before then but I haven’t tried, not having ever let my license lapse :-/
You should be okay regardless to use that FRN when you take your next exam.
By Joe April 16, 2020 - 22:21
I finally received a reply from their helpdesk. I verified info for my FRN and received a password reset. Got my FCC login and my cores updated. Also associated my FRN with my account. Everything is groovy now.
By Laura Flood October 26, 2020 - 10:30
I received my FRN for the upcoming HAM test. I see payments and fee’s but nowhere about a fee to register. Will I be billed for obtaining a FRN?
By kd7bbc October 26, 2020 - 17:24
The FCC does not currently (as of Oct 26, 2020) charge any fees for Amateur Radio licenses. When you take your exam the exam team may charge a fee, depending on which VEC they work with — any questions you have can be addressed to them.
You will not be billed for obtaining an FRN.
– Richard, KD7BBC
By liz tuttle April 13, 2023 - 12:55
i am studying for my ham radio technician exam. i have no idea when i will be able to take the test. should i get the fcc frn number now or later. also when taking the test, can a person use a nick name, rather than their given full name. i am really happy studying with ham study.org. yesterday i was happy to have passed a practize exam with 77%. the frequency memorization, and math is difficult. i am hopeful. thank you