Renew a ham or amateur radio license by completing the form online at the Federal Communications Commission’s Universal Licensing System or by submitting a paper application. The FCC accepts renewal applications 90 days or less prior to the license’s expiration date and gives a two-year grace period for filing. As of 2015, there is no fee for renewal.
The FCC issues Technician, General and Extra Class licenses to amateurs. The Technician and General Class licenses require applicants to pass a 35-question test regarding radio theory, regulation and operation, while the Extra Class license requires passing a 50-question test. The Technician Class license is the entry-level class. Amateur licenses are good for 10 years from the date of issue.
Amateurs who renew their license within the allotted time do not have to test again. If an amateur radio operator does not renew his license within the two-year grace period, the license is not eligible for reinstatement or renewal. The applicant must begin again with a Technician Class license.
Radio operators with the Technician Class license are limited to bands above 30 megahertz, which allows them to communicate locally. They have some access to short-wave frequencies. Higher-class licenses give access to all frequencies and allow operators to communicate with others around the world.