File FCC Forms 159 and 605 along with the appropriate Proof of Passing Certificate(s) (for the requisite written and/or telegraphy examination element(s)) to apply for a Commercial Operator License with the FCC, through electronic filing in ULS. Per Public Notice DA 15-72, the FCC no longer mails license authorizations. You are required to provide an email address on your application, a link to print your official copy of your license will be automatically emailed to you when the application has granted. Licensees may also log into ULS to download official authorizations. Instructions can be found at How to Obtain Official Authorizations from ULS.
There is one EXCEPTION: You do NOT have to submit a Proof of Passing Certificate when applying for a Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Permit (RR).
Most Commercial Operator License Examination Managers (COLEMs) file these documents for applicants who test with them. Ask your COLEM if it provides this service to its customers. Applicants filing the required documentation directly with the FCC should follow the steps below.
File FCC Form 605 in ULS to renew your license. IMPORTANT NOTE: All commercial radio operator licenses issued on or after May 20, 2013 are valid for the lifetime of the holder, and do not need to be renewed. For licenses issued before that date, see Terms of Licenses to ascertain if your license needs to be renewed.
Operating/Maintaining While Application is Pending
A person who has filed an application for a commercial operator license with the FCC, and who holds a Proof of Passing Certificate(s) indicating that he or she passed the requisite examination(s) within the previous 365 days, is authorized to exercise the rights and privileges of the applied-for operator license during the period before the FCC acts on the application, but only for a period of 90 days from the date the application was filed, provided that the applicant has not had a commercial radio operator license revoked or suspended in the past, and is not the subject of an ongoing suspension proceeding.
Term of Licenses
The following licenses are issued for the holder's lifetime:
- Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Permit
- Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Permit-Limited Use
- Marine Radio Operator Permit
- General Radiotelephone Operator License
- GMDSS Radio Operator's License
- Restricted GMDSS Radio Operator's License
- GMDSS Radio Maintainer's License
- GMDSS Radio Operator/Maintainer License
- Radiotelegraph Operator License
The following licenses are valid for a 5 year term:
- Third Class Radiotelegraph Operator's Certificate
- Second Class Radiotelegraph Operator's Certificate
- First Class Radiotelegraph Operator's Certificate
These licenses may be renewed from ninety (90) days prior to the end of their term up until five years following expiration without having to re-take an examination. After the five-year grace period expires, applicants must retake the requisite written and/or telegraphy examination(s). An expired certificate is not valid for any radio operations.