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License Fees - Historical Perspective


Dennis - WU6X
 

From N2EY on QRZ.com

The FCC proposal to require license fees has started several threads in various forums, along with a lack of historical perspective.

So, here's a short history of US Amateur Radio License fees (not VE test fees). The following is based on QST articles from the time periods listed.

In all cases, the ARRL strongly opposed the fees. Sometimes the opposition was effective, sometimes it wasn't.

In 1933, the FRC (predecessor of the FCC) proposed a fee of $5 ($100.17 in 2019 dollars) for amateur operator licenses. In those days operator license terms were 3 years. This proposal was strongly opposed and was not enacted.

In 1954, the FCC proposed a fee of $3 ($28.93 in 2019 dollars) for amateur licenses. In those days, and until the early 1980s, license terms were 5 years. This proposal was strongly opposed and was not enacted.

In the early 1960s the FCC again proposed fees for amateur licenses, and this time the proposal was enacted despite the opposition. The original effective date of January 1, 1964 was delayed a few months by a legal challenge, but by mid-March, 1964 the following fees were enacted:

New or renewed license: $4 ($33.45 in 2019 dollars)
Modified license: $2 ($16.72)
Special callsign: $20 ($167.25)

Novice and RACES licenses remained free.

Effective August 1, 1970, the FCC raised the above fees for amateur licenses to the following:

New or renewed license: $9 ($60.09 in 2019 dollars)
Modified license: $4 ($26.71)
Special callsign: $25 ($166.92)

Novice and RACES licenses remained free.

Effective March 1, 1975, the FCC lowered the above fees for amateur licenses to the following:

New or renewed license: $4 ($19.27 in 2019 dollars)
Modified license: $3 ($14.46)
Duplicate license: $2 ($9.64)
Special callsign: $25 ($120.46)

Novice and RACES licenses remained free.

Finally, effective January 1, 1977, FCC dropped all fees for amateur licenses. From then until now, all US amateur licenses have been free.

VE testing fees are set by the VECs, and go to pay the costs of conducting the test sessions - space rental, duplication, postage, etc. The FCC sets a maximum fee, but VECs can set the fees lower, or waive them entirely.

Modern vanity-call fees have varied over time.

In the above schedule of fees, a "new or renewed license" included the fee for taking the tests, pass or fail, for a new license or a license upgrade. A "modified" license meant a change of address or name, but not a license upgrade.

Special call-signs in those days followed different rules than today, but there were specific cases where an amateur could get a callsign that wasn't sequentially issued. The special-callsign fee was a one-time charge.


KB6SQT - Sam
 

Thank you.
You are amazing. Really puts this issue into perspective. 

Sam 


Sam Frazier
Attorney 

Offices:
Auburn, California
La Jolla, California 
858-456-5822 cell
Email: Frazierlaw@... 
Since 1978


On Sep 2, 2020, at 11:07 AM, Dennis - WU6X <wu6x@...> wrote:

From N2EY on QRZ.com

The FCC proposal to require license fees has started several threads in various forums, along with a lack of historical perspective.

So, here's a short history of US Amateur Radio License fees (not VE test fees). The following is based on QST articles from the time periods listed.

In all cases, the ARRL strongly opposed the fees. Sometimes the opposition was effective, sometimes it wasn't.

In 1933, the FRC (predecessor of the FCC) proposed a fee of $5 ($100.17 in 2019 dollars) for amateur operator licenses. In those days operator license terms were 3 years. This proposal was strongly opposed and was not enacted.

In 1954, the FCC proposed a fee of $3 ($28.93 in 2019 dollars) for amateur licenses. In those days, and until the early 1980s, license terms were 5 years. This proposal was strongly opposed and was not enacted.

In the early 1960s the FCC again proposed fees for amateur licenses, and this time the proposal was enacted despite the opposition. The original effective date of January 1, 1964 was delayed a few months by a legal challenge, but by mid-March, 1964 the following fees were enacted:

New or renewed license: $4 ($33.45 in 2019 dollars)
Modified license: $2 ($16.72)
Special callsign: $20 ($167.25)

Novice and RACES licenses remained free.

Effective August 1, 1970, the FCC raised the above fees for amateur licenses to the following:

New or renewed license: $9 ($60.09 in 2019 dollars)
Modified license: $4 ($26.71)
Special callsign: $25 ($166.92)

Novice and RACES licenses remained free.

Effective March 1, 1975, the FCC lowered the above fees for amateur licenses to the following:

New or renewed license: $4 ($19.27 in 2019 dollars)
Modified license: $3 ($14.46)
Duplicate license: $2 ($9.64)
Special callsign: $25 ($120.46)

Novice and RACES licenses remained free.

Finally, effective January 1, 1977, FCC dropped all fees for amateur licenses. From then until now, all US amateur licenses have been free.

VE testing fees are set by the VECs, and go to pay the costs of conducting the test sessions - space rental, duplication, postage, etc. The FCC sets a maximum fee, but VECs can set the fees lower, or waive them entirely.

Modern vanity-call fees have varied over time.

In the above schedule of fees, a "new or renewed license" included the fee for taking the tests, pass or fail, for a new license or a license upgrade. A "modified" license meant a change of address or name, but not a license upgrade.

Special call-signs in those days followed different rules than today, but there were specific cases where an amateur could get a callsign that wasn't sequentially issued. The special-callsign fee was a one-time charge.