When the Federal Communications Commission develops rules or policies, it offers many opportunities to the public to offer comments and opinions. The public's input plays an important role in our rulemaking process. If you would like to submit a comment regarding a current commission proceeding, here are some terms and instructions that will help you do so.

Filing Comments in Proceedings

Before filing a comment, it is important to know a little about our rulemaking process. Most rulemaking proceedings at the Commission start either because Congress enacts a new telecommunications law or because an outside party files a Petition for Rulemaking to suggest new rules or changes to existing rules. When these happen, the Commission generally starts a proceeding by issuing one of the following:

  • A Notice of Inquiry (NOI) will ask various questions about a specific topic and seek input from the public to determine if further action by the Commission is warranted;
  • A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) will propose new rules or changes to existing rules and seek comments on the proposals. After reviewing comments filed in an NPRM, the Commission may seek further public input by issuing a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM).

After analyzing the comments received in a proceeding, the FCC may issue a Report and Order (R&O) which will either adopt new rules, change existing rules, or state that no rule changes will be made at this time. Summaries of R&Os may be found in the Federal Register.

Public Comment Periods

When a Petition for Rulemaking, an NOI, an NPRM or an FNPRM is announced in a Public Notice"("Notice"), the Notice generally will contain a deadline for filing of public comments and instructions on how to file comments. This deadline generally will be 30 days after publication of the Notice, and reply comments typically are due 15 days after that. The Notice also will contain a docket number (ex.: "MB Docket No. 10-001" for the Media Bureau's first proceeding of the year 2010) or a rulemaking number (ex.: RM-20554). It is important to include the docket number or rulemaking number in your comment to ensure that it is included in the intended proceeding.

Filing Comments Electronically

The FCC's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) Express allows you to submit comments electronically (via the Internet) for docketed or rulemaking proceedings by subject area, while the ECFS Expert Form provides additional ways to find proceedings and allows you to upload documents including PDF files. Electronic comments must be filed by midnight Eastern Time on the date of the deadline. ECFS also allows you to view other comments that have been filed. If you need assistance using ECFS, send an e-mail to ecfshelp@fcc.gov, or call the ECFS Help Desk at (202) 418-0193, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET.

The FCC also participates as a partner in the Electronic Government Online Rulemaking initiative, which allows the public to view current proposed rules published in the Federal Register and to submit comments electronically.

Filing Comments in Paper Format

Printed copies of comments may be filed with the Commission no later than 7:00 p.m. EST on the deadline date. Please include an original (with an original signature) and four copies of your comment, and be sure to include a contact name, address, and phone number in your comments. Please type in 12-point or larger font or write legibly. Cover letters are not necessary. If your comments are confidential, label each page "Not for Public Inspection" or "Confidential" in the upper right-hand corner and provide an explanation for why you believe the filing should be confidential.

Address for hand-delivered documents:

Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary
Federal Communications Commission
Office of the Secretary
236 Massachusetts Ave., NE
Washington, DC 20002

The hours of operation are from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. ET.

Address for U.S. Postal Service mail:

Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary
Federal Communications Commission
Office of the Secretary
445 12th Street, SW
Room TW-B204
Washington, DC 20554

Commercial overnight mail, other than U.S. Postal Service Express mail and Priority mail, must be addressed to:

Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary
Federal Communications Commission
Office of the Secretary
9300 East Hampton Drive
Capitol Heights, MD 20734

Filing Comments for People with Disabilities

People with disabilities filing comments in non-print formats, for example, Braille, audio, or sign language video, should include a contact name, address, and phone number. Providing a print copy will expedite processing. If you have questions about access for people with disabilities, send an e-mail to FCC504@fcc.gov or call 1-888-CALL-FCC (voice), or 1-888-TELL-FCC (TTY).

Questions about Filing Comments

If you have questions about filing comments, contact the FCC's Office of the Secretary at (202) 418-0300 (voice), or (202) 418-2970 (TTY).