Edit: This applies only to FCC-issued call signs, such as US call signs. If you have information about how to do it in other countries, feel free to post in the comments!
My wife got a letter in the mail today. I’m sure some of you have received similar letters. It informed her that her license is going to expire soon, and contained a self-addressed envelope, a 605 form, and instructions for how she can mail it in to get her license renewed, all for a low fee!
Now, don’t get me wrong. I actually have a lot of respect for the organization who sent the letter, and I don’t mean to criticize them — I am in favor of supporting them, and I appreciate the reminder letter. I do wonder how many people receive these letters and think it’s the only way to renew, though.
Edit: In response to some comments I’ve read about this post on various social media sites, let me clarify something. I have no problem with organizations helping to renew licenses, and I don’t have a problem with them doing it for a fee. In fact, some people have found the below process annoying enough that they’d prefer to do it that way. Others have indicated that they couldn’t manage to get logged in, with the same result. Also, these are great organizations who provide a valuable resource to hams without easy internet access or computers, and thus are worth supporting in their own right.
My main purpose in this blog post is not to keep people from supporting these organizations, but to make sure people are educated about the options and the fact that it can actually be done for free.
If you are having trouble with the below steps, or if you just want to support one of the great organizations who serve the Amateur Radio community, here are the ones that I am aware of that you can use to renew your license using such things as 605 forms, stamps, envelopes, etc =]
- ARRL (free for members)
- QRZ (goes through W5YI, I think, but a great site to support)
In truth, it’s actually very easy to renew your license directly with the FCC — and it’s complete free! The hardest part may be to figure out what your FRN password is, but worst case this may require a 15 minute phone call to the FCC (which I have done, and it is really painless).
So, as long as my wife’s license needed to be renewed anyway, I decided to create a walkthrough for you all, just to try to take the “mystery” out of the process.