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Amateur Radio Service




Operation of an amateur station requires an amateur operator license grant from the FCC. For individuals entering the amateur service, or upgrading their license operator class, there are three classes of license, each authorizing privileges corresponding to the qualifications required. The classes of license, from highest to lowest are: Amateur Extra Class, General Class, and Technician Class.
Before receiving a license grant, you must pass an examination administered by a team of volunteer examiners (VEs). The VEs determine the operator class for which you are qualified by testing your knowledge in operating an amateur station. Most new amateur radio operators start with the "no-code" Technician Class operator license. Some newcomers, however, begin at the General Class. A few even begin at the Amateur Extra Class.
To request examination, submit to your VE team a completed FCC Form 605.

The Exam

In the amateur radio license examination system, there are three written examination elements [Elements 2, 3, and 4]. For each operator class, you must pass the elements indicated:
Operator ClassRequired Elements
Amateur ExtraWritten Elements 2, 3, 4
GeneralWritten Elements 2, 3
TechnicianWritten Element 2
Your VEs accommodate physical disabilities that require a special examination procedure. They may, however, require you to provide a physician's certification indicating the nature of your disability before determining which, if any, special procedure must be used.

Written Elements

Your written examination establishes your level of operational and technical ability in performing properly the duties of an amateur service licensee.

Each written examination consists of a set of questions:
ElementOperation PrivilegesQuestions Minimum Passing Score
2Technician Class3526
3General Class3526
4Amateur Extra Class5037
The Volunteer Examiner Coordinators maintain a common question pool for each written examination element. Each pool contains at least ten times the number of questions required for a single examination. Every question set administered to an examinee is prepared by a VE. The questions you are asked on your written examination are taken from the appropriate pool. These pools are revised and updated periodically to incorporate the latest rules, new technology and interests of the amateur service community. Make sure that you prepare for your examination by studying material based upon the question pools currently in use. The pools are available to you in several non-government publications. Non-government sources also offer learning opportunities in the form of audio and video tapes, manuals and books, and computer and live instructional courses.
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Volunteer Examiner Responsibilities

The volunteer examiners are responsible for the proper conduct and necessary supervision of your examination, including: The Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (VEC) collects your Form 605 document from your VE team and, after carefully screening it, forwards the information thereon to the FCC electronically.
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Examination Fees

Your VE may charge you a reimbursement fee for their out-of-pocket expenses incurred in preparing, processing, administering or coordinating your examination. For more information see public notice DA 00-2718 (text).
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Authority to Operate

Your operating authority begins when your license grant information appears in the Amateur Radio Service licensing information, available by searching the Universal Licensing System (ULS). These searches allow the viewing of pending applications and granted license information. There is no requirement that you have a license grant document showing the information in ULS in your possession before you begin operating. For more information, refer to more information on Communications & Operations.
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