When does the FCC require a license?
FCC rules require that licensees of ship and aircraft stations permit only persons holding the appropriate FCC-issued commercial operator license to perform specified transmitter operation, maintenance and repair duties.
Who needs a commercial operator license?
You need a commercial operator license to operate, and/or to repair and maintain, specified ship, and aircraft radio communication stations. The licensing requirements for operating such radio stations and the licensing requirements for repairing and maintaining such radio stations are discussed separately.
If I am operating a radio, do I need an FCC license?
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. 2 FCC Commercial Radio Operator Licensing Program
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 radio navigation stations
- Survival craft stations or EPIRBs
- Ship radar stations, if:
- the radar frequency is determined by a non-tunable, pulse type magnetron or other fixed tune device, and
- 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 radio navigation transmitters
- ELTs or aviation survival craft stations used solely for survival purposes.
If I am maintaining and repairing a radio, do I need an FCC license?
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.
How long is the FCC license good for?
The FCC commercial operator licenses that Mariners Learning System offers are types of FCC licenses issued for the holder’s lifetime.
Prior to March 25, 2008, the license term for an RG, DM, or DB was five years. Any holder of these licenses that expired prior to March 25, 2008, must still file an application to renew the license within the five-year grace period after expiration.