Who Needs A Commercial Operator License?
You need a commercial operator license to operate, and/or to repair and maintain, specified ship, and aircraft radiocommunication
stations. The licensing requirements for operating such radio stations and the licensing requirements for repairing and maintaining
such radio stations are discussed separately below.
CAUTION:These listings only describe when a commercial operator license is necessary. A commercial operator license does not constitute
or imply FCC authorization to transmit radio signals. Before you operate any radio station, make certain that the station
is licensed as required by the FCC.
You need a commercial radio operator license to operate the following:
- Ship radio stations if:
- the vessel carries more than six passengers for hire; or
- the radio operates on medium frequencies (MF) or high frequencies (HF); or
- the ship sails to foreign ports; or
- the ship station transmits radiotelegraphy; or
- the ship is larger than 300 gross tons and is required by law to carry a radio station for safety purposes.
- Aircraft radio stations, except those which operate only on very high frequencies (VHF) and do not make foreign flights.
You do NOT need a commercial operator license to operate the following:
- Ship stations operating only on VHF frequencies that do not travel to foreign ports or make international communications
(unless the vessel carries more than six passengers for hire, or the ship is larger than 300 gross tons and is required
by law to carry a radio station for safety purposes).
- Shore radar, shore radiolocation, maritime support or shore radionavigation stations.
- Survival craft stations or EPIRBs.
- Ship radar stations, if (a) the radar frequency is determined by a nontunable, pulse type magnetron or other fixed tune device,
and (b) the radar is capable of being operated exclusively by external controls.
- Coast stations.
- Aircraft stations which operate only on VHF frequencies and do not make foreign flights.
- Aircraft radar sets, radio altimeters, transponders or other aircraft automatic radionavigation transmitters.
- ELTs or aviation survival craft stations used solely for survival purposes (testing only).
Radio Maintenance and Repair
You need a commercial operator license to repair and maintain the following:
- All ship radio and radar stations.
- All coast stations.
- All hand-carried units used to communicate with ships and coast stations on marine frequencies.
- All aircraft stations and aeronautical ground stations (including hand-carried portable units) used to communicate with aircraft.
You do NOT need a commercial radio operator license to operate, repair, or maintain any of the following types of stations:
- Two-way land mobile radio equipment, such as that used by police and fire departments, taxicabs and truckers, businesses
and industries, ambulances and rescue squads, and local, state, and federal government agencies.
- Personal radio equipment used in the Citizens Band (CB), Radio Control (R/C), and General Mobile Radio Services (GMRS).
- Auxiliary broadcast stations, such as remote pickup stations.
- Domestic public fixed and mobile radio systems, such as mobile telephone systems, cellular systems, rural radio systems,
point-to-point microwave systems, multipoint distribution systems, etc.
- Stations that operate in the Cable Television Relay Service.
- Satellite stations, both uplink and downlink of all types.
NOTE: Possession of a commercial radio operator license
or permit does not authorize an individual to operate amateur or GMRS
radio stations. Only a person holding an amateur or GMRS radio operator
license may operate an amateur or GMRS radio station.