The FCC issued its Report and Order FCC 20-184 which sets the amateur radio licensing fee at $35. This is reduced from the initial proposed fee of $50. In the report and order, the FCC states that “we adopt a new application fee schedule that significantly updates the Commission’s previous fee schedule in both types of applications and other processes covered by the fee requirement and also in the fee amounts.” It addresses fees with many radio services, and unfortunately, also adds the $35 fee to the amateur service. The FCC further states that their goal ïs to “comply with the RAY BAUM’S Act requirements and adopt fees that are fair, administrable, and sustainable.”
There were nearly 4,000 comments submitted addressing the amateur radio license fee. Many, of course, wanted amateur licenses exempted per section 8(d)(1) of the Act. Alas, the FCC asserts that there is no such exemption and that they have no authority to create such an exemption. They further disagreed with comments suggesting that an exemption should be given due to the nature of the service and its emergency and public communications service, how it could/would discourage younger people or those who couldn’t afford the fee. Some even suggested that the fees generated from amateur licenses should benefit the service by taking more robust enforcement actions against unlawful operators. The FCC commented that they have no discretion as to how the fees could be spent, as all of these revenues must be deposited in the U.S. Treasury.
How and when the fees will go into effect has not yet been determined. The FCC advised that they will announce these details with at least 30 days advance notice. They are now developing the procedures as to the how the fees will be collected.
Much of the discussion regarding amateur licenses can be found under the section titled, “b. Personal Licenses”, which is covered in paragraphs #30 through #44. This is the URL for the complete Report and Order: https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/FCC-20-184A1.pdf