Posted by: towmasters | June 11, 2009

Still Licensed For Life! Now I Miss The F.C.C. Even More…..

By now, presumably, you’re all aware of the fact that our F.C.C. radio operator licenses no longer expire and are, therefore, good for life. I posted about it previously and thought that it would be the last time for this subject. But since then another potential issue has popped up, and that would be the old stand-by: lack of communication.

What if you’re on an international voyage and are boarded by foreign port control officers who, upon seeing your “expired” license, decide to fine you or detain the vessel? What if you’re boarded by the U.S. Coast Guard and the boarding officer says “this license is no good.” Do you want to count on the enforcement agencies, especially overseas, knowing about this change, and that the information will then make it down all the way to the level of the actual enforcement agents? I think not. Hell, I still sometimes get major stink-eye from the TSA screeners at the airport for having the gall to show them my TWIC! So the answer is to get a duplicate of your license issued, but without an expiration date. It was time to call the F.C.C. again and see what needed to be done.

Once again I was caught off guard as their superior customer-service attitude washed over me like a warm and gentle wave. Damn, I could get used to this! I got a very nice and knowledgeable lady on the phone, without having to wait, who immediately understood exactly what I was talking about. “It’s no problem” she said, “You just request a duplicate license and the new one will have no expiration date on it. We can do it right now over the phone or you can do it online if you prefer.” Then the very nice lady said “It’ll cost you $60.00 to do it, but if you need to make an administrative change then it’s free. If there’s any change at all in the information we have on file for you, your address, phone number, fax number, e-mail, anything at all, then we’ll make the change and the new license is totally free.” Awesome! “I’ll send you an e-mail with full instructions, just in case. You’ll get it in a sec.” And I did. Way cool!

Here it is, with the most important items in bold:

The case you submitted via the FCC has been resolved.  The resolution details for Case ID HD0000001204391 are below.

If you have any questions contact us at (877) 480-3201, option 2.

Thank You!

Summary*        : How do I file online?
Description*    : How do I file online?
Solution Details :

Administrative changes are limited to changes in licensee name (provided there is no change in license ownership, control, or corporate structure), address, phone number, fax number, e-mail address, and point of contact information.

Aircraft:  If the “N” number of the aircraft changes due to an administrative change by the
FAA, or if you change licensee information (legal name, address, etc) you will file an Administrative Update to make the necessary correction.

Ship: If you change your mailing address, legal name (without change in ownership), or ship name (without changing vessels) you will file an Administrative Update to make the necessary correction.

Filing an Administrative Update (AU) for a Single Call Sign:

Access electronic filing via ULS Online Filing http://wireless.fcc.gov/uls To be sure you are using a compatible operating system for ULS go to the website http://esupport.fcc.gov/index.htm?job=getting_connected#d36e2.
Log in with your FRN and password.  If you do not have your password and have set a Personal Security Question (PSQ) go to web site
http://esupport.fcc.gov/password.htm and select Reset Password.  Enter your FRN and answer the PSQ allowing you to reset your password.  If you have not set the PSQ go to the web site http://esupport.fcc.gov/index.htm and submit a reset password form or call (877) 480-3201 for assistance.
Click the applicable call sign displayed under My Licenses.
Select Update link in the Work On This License box.
Answer the questions on the following screens.  Click the Continue button to navigate through the filing.
Review and edit information on the application from the Summary screen.  Click Continue to Certify.
Review the certification statements and sign your application by typing your name in the appropriate box.
Submit your application by clicking the Submit button.  We recommend that you print a copy of the Application Confirmation page which includes the application file number.
No application or regulatory fees are required for this type of filing.

FCC Form 605 Main Form (Quick-Form Application For Authorization in the Ship, Aircraft, Amateur, Restricted and Commercial Operator and General Mobile Radio Services) can be used to update the license authorization.  This form can be obtained via website: http://www.fcc.gov/formpage.html.  The purpose of the filing would be Administrative Update AU.

NOTE: Even though some private radio service applicants are allowed to file paper applications, we strongly encourage all applicants to file electronically.  Filing electronically helps to increase the accuracy of your application.

If you have any further questions, or need additional information, please submit a request through http://esupport.fcc.gov/index.htm or call the ULS Customer Support Hotline at 1-877-480-3201 and select option 2 at the main menu recording.

**Please do not reply back to this message.  The e-mail address is configured for outgoing e-mail only.**

So today I went to their website and followed the instructions I was given, though they really weren’t needed at all. The whole thing took only a few minutes and at no point was there any confusion as to what I needed to do, although throughout the process there were repeated prompts to call the toll-free hotline if I had any questions or problems. The FRN mentioned above is your FCC Registration number, which is on the letter that they sent you with your original or renewed license, and was assigned to you when the FCC went to an all-electronic database earlier this decade. You did save that, didn’t you? It’s ten digits long and, on the letter, will probably have a couple of hyphens in it. If you try to include those hyphens when you type the number into the box you’ll run out of room, so just omit them. You’ll need your password too, also a 10-digit number (unless you’ve since elected to change it, like I did), which would have been sent to you in a separate letter. If you’ve lost them, don’t worry. Just call the toll-free number, they’ll ask you for some personal information to make sure it’s you, and then do whatever needs doing. The new license is not something that you’ll have to ask for. Whether you’re doing this by phone or on their website the simple act of making an administrative change automatically triggers the issuance of a new, no-expiration-date license. The only time you would have to pay is if you lose it or it becomes damaged or defaced and you needed to get a duplicate. But then you could just make another “administrative change” to get around that too.

Virtually anything can be used to make an administrative change. Adding, subtracting or changing an e-mail address is probably the easiest. I didn’t have one on file so I put one in and was good to go. If your home address uses Street, Lane, Court, etc. just switch it to the abbreviated form (St., La., Ct.) or vice-versa. You could do the same with P.O. Box and Post Office Box if that’s where you get your mail, or change your phone number (from your  home to your cell) or even add a fax number. There’s a way to do it, one way or another, for everyone. Keep in mind that this was no well-guarded government secret, either. The representative I spoke with volunteered this information without my asking, and I didn’t know anything about it beforehand. I was clear that they’re purposely trying to save you the fee if they possibly can. It is decidedly not the infuriating “if you don’t know to ask, we won’t tell you about it” gotcha-attitude that is so common in our government.

The FCC is truly a gem and they are hereby given the full, 5-star MTVA-approved status! With disappointments, great and small, being the norm when dealing with the government I felt the strong urge to pay them a fair fee for the service rendered, but they didn’t want it. I felt disoriented by this behavior. My internal gyrocompass was now askew, wobbling. Ground control to Major Tom…..

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Responses

  1. I’ve delt with the FCC many times & have very good luck with them as well, & even with the rep’s inside the Corps.

    Glad your’s came out with a good ending.

  2. […] the Master of Towing Vessels Assoc. Forum has “Still Licensed For Life! Now I Miss The F.C.C. Even More…..” as he explains how you can get a new license with no expiration date, for free. I need to go […]


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