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Posted: 4/20/2007 3:30:52 AM EDT

FCC Poised to Cut Vanity Call Sign Fee by More Than 40 Percent
NEWINGTON, CT, Apr 19, 2007 -- The FCC has proposed reducing the regulatory fee to obtain or retain an Amateur Radio vanity call sign by more than 40 percent starting later this year. In a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) released April 18, "Assessment and Collection of Regulatory Fees for Fiscal Year 2007," in MD Docket 07-81, the Commission is proposing to cut the fee from its current $20.80 to $11.70. If ultimately adopted, that would mark the lowest fee in the history of the current vanity call sign program.

"In this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, we propose to collect $290,295,160 in regulatory fees for Fiscal Year (FY) 2007, pursuant to Section 9 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended," the FCC said. "These fees are mandated by Congress and are collected to recover the regulatory costs associated with the Commission's enforcement, policy and rulemaking, user information, and international activities."

Regulatory fees are collected in advance to cover the term of the license and are submitted at the time of application, the FCC points out. Comments on the proposals outlined in MD Docket 07-81 are due May 3. Reply comments are due May 11.

The Commission is obligated to collect nearly $290.3 million in regulatory fees during FY 2007 to fund its operations. "Consistent with our established practice, we intend to collect these regulatory fees in the August-September 2007 time frame in order to collect the required amount by the end of the fiscal year," the FCC said.

Regulatory Fee Roller Coaster

The vanity call sign fee has fluctuated over the years, but even the current fee is far lower than the $70 the FCC first announced in its 1994 Report and Order. The fee subsequently was reduced to $30 for the initial rounds of vanity call sign filers in 1996. Over the 11 years of the program, the fee has varied from a low of $12 to a high of $50.

The FCC indicates in the NPRM that it anticipates some 14,700 Amateur Radio vanity call sign "payment units" or applications during the next fiscal year.

Vanity Fee Due for New, Renewal Applications

The vanity call sign regulatory fee is payable not only when applying for a new vanity call sign but upon renewing a vanity call sign for a new term. The first vanity call sign licenses issued under the current Amateur Radio vanity call sign program that began in 1996 came up for renewal last year.

Those holding vanity call signs issued prior to 1996 are exempt from having to pay the vanity call sign regulatory fee at renewal. That's because Congress did not authorize the FCC to collect regulatory fees until 1993. Such "heritage" vanity call sign holders do not appear as vanity licensees in the ULS Amateur Radio database.

Amateur Radio licensees may file for renewal only within 90 days of their license expiration date. All radio amateurs must have an FCC Registration Number (FRN) before filing any application with the Commission. Applicants can obtain an FRN by going to the ULS and clicking on the "New Users Register" link. You must supply your Social Security Number to obtain an FRN.

ARRL Processes License Renewals, Including Vanities

The ARRL VEC will process license renewals for vanity call sign holders for a modest fee. The service is available to ARRL members and nonmembers, although League members pay less. Routine, non-vanity renewals continue to be free for ARRL members. Trustees of club stations with vanity call signs may renew either via the ULS or through a Club Station Call Sign Administrator, such as ARRL VEC.

League members should visit the "ARRL Member Instructions for License Renewals or Changes" page, while the "Instructions for License Renewals or Changes" page covers general renewal procedures for nonmembers. There's additional information on the ARRL VEC's "FCC License Renewals and ARRL License Expiration Notices" page.

License application and renewal information and links to the required forms are available on the ARRL Amateur Application Filing FAQ Web page. The FCC's forms page also offers the required forms.

Link Posted: 4/20/2007 3:36:21 AM EDT
Had vanity call signs been available when I was first licensed in the late 1980's I might have jumped for one.  However, by the time they started offering them I was too attached to mine to change it (plus I would have had to change my vehicle's license plates!).
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