Frequently Asked Questions
This page last updated: November 17, 2021
- How much does it cost to take an amateur license exam?
All exam sessions conducted by Laurel Voluntee Examiner Coordinator (VEC) sponsored Volunteer Examiner (VE) Teams are free.
- Do I need to bring my own pencils, papers, etc?
No. Everything you will need such as pencils and scratch paper will be provided.
- Can I use a calculator?
Yes. In fact, the Baltimore VE team may lend a calculator for the session.
However, if you bring your own calculator, and it is programmable, its
memory must be cleared. The VEs will inspect your calculator before letting
you use it.
- Can I use my cell phone as a calculator?
No! In fact, all cell phones must be turned off. If it makes any kind
of noise you may be dismissed from further participation in the exam session.
- Why do I have to provide my social security
number to get my ham license?
The Debt Collection Act of 1996 requires that anyone applying for or
renewing any federally issued license must provide their
Taxpayer ID Number (TIN) which is your Social Security Number (SSN).
You will need to pre-register with the FCC and use the FCC Registration
Number (FRN) that you are assigned on the application in place of the SSN. As of this version of the FAQ, the link to the FCC USL registration
site is: https://apps.fcc.gov/cores/userLogin.do which will
open in a new browser tab or new window.
You will need your FRN to register for your exam session with the Baltimore VE Team.
- Why is there felony question on the Form 605 (Application for
See this PDF for an explination.
- What do I need to bring to the Exam session?
- A photo ID. Children without photo IDs may be tested providing
that they can prove their identity to the satisfaction of the BVET
- A copy or original version of your current, signed, amateur
radio operator's license. (If you are currently licensed.)
- The original and a copy of any document on which you will be
relying to prove element credit. These documents may include:
- A Technician license (original and a photocopy) granted
prior to March 21, 1987. Element Credit: Element 3.
- An expired and subsequently cancelled General class license
(original and photocopy). Element credit: Element 3.
- An expired and subsequently cancelled Advanced class license.
(original and photocopy). Element credit: Element 3.
- An expired and subsequently cancelled Amateur Extra class
license (original and photocopy). Element credit: Elements 3
- An unexpired Certificate of Successful Completion of Examination
(CSCE) indicating elements passed if license not yet upgraded.
- Upgrading a current, unexpired license
- Your current license
- Applicable items from (c) above
- A positive attitude and some patience. The
folks administering the exams are dedicated
volunteers. They will do their best to get you tested,
your exam graded, inform you of the results, and if
applicable, prepare and present to you a certificate
stating you have earned a license or an upgrade as
quickly as possible.
- How soon after I pass can I start operating?
- When you earn a new license, you can start operating as soon as your license grant is shown in the FCC's ULS license database. Usually your license will be listed in the FCC data base within 8-10 days following your exam after you take your test. (See below for info on how to search for your new license.)
Since you include your email address on your application, the FCC will send you an email (From "firstname.lastname@example.org") that has a subject line similar to this: "FCC Application Grant OR Official FCC License".
This email will also include a link and instructions that guide you to your new license. You may print an official license copy by following the link provided in that email.
- When you upgrade to a higher class of license, you may begin operating with your new privileges immediately after you pass your exam, and you must identify yourself when you are using your new privileges by appending your call sign with the appropriate suffix:
- Using Phone
- Your call sign followed by "temporary" or "Interim" KT or Kilo Tango (This indicates you have upgraded to Technician); Example: This is WN4FUI temporary Kilo Tango
- Your call sign followed by "temporary" or "Interim AG" or "Alpha Golf" (This indicates you have upgraded to General); Example: This is KA2JUQ temporary Alpha Golf
- Your call sign followed by "temporary" or "Interim AE" or "Alpha Echo" (This indicates you have upgraded to Extra); Example: This is KA2JUQ Interim Alpha Echo
- Using CW, Digital, Imagery
Your call sign followed by a slant bar and the appropriate suffix: WN4FUI/KT, KA2JUQ/AG, KA2JUQ/AE
- Once your upgrade is in the FCC data base you may drop the suffix
- The good news is that with the Laurel VEC the results of your exam session are usually uploaded to the FCC on the first business day following your exam session and you may start operating using your new callsign as soon as it appears in the FCC Database.
The FCC license search website can be found at http://wireless2.fcc.gov/UlsApp/UlsSearch/searchLicense.jsp
- Do I have to pass a Morse code test to get my
No. While Morse code is still a popular mode of communication among hams, it is no longer required to earn a new or upgraded amateur radio license.
- What will the test session be like?
The sessions will vary somewhat due to the teams and
the facilities where the test is conducted. However, the
session will generally be be conducted as follows:
- Registration - You will be asked to
complete one or two forms; show your photo ID; inspect
the original version of your current, unexpired
license and other applicable documentation; and
provide copies of your current, unexpired license and
other applicable documentation.
- Pre-exam instructions - You will probably
be given some pre-exam instructions regarding the use
of calculators, procedures for asking questions, rules
for taking the exam, bathroom breaks during the exam,
- The exam - The Technician and General exams
each contain 35 multiple choice questions. You must
correctly answer 26 questions to pass (74.2%). The
Amateur Extra exam contains 50 multiple choice
questions of which you must correctly answer 37
(74%) to pass.
- Grading - Once you've completed your exam,
it will be graded and you will be informed of the
result. If you passed you will receive a Certificate
of Successful Completion of Exam (CSCE) indicating
which element(s) you've passed and, if appropriate,
which license class you've earned. If you didn't
pass the exam, the VEs may, at their discretion,
allow you to take a second exam.
Note: The VE team will strive to score your test,
inform you of the results, and process your paperwork
as quickly as possible. The size of the test session
and the number of VEs on-hand will be factors in how
quickly this gets done. Please be patient.
- If I fail my exam, can I take another exam
during the same session?
The decision to let you take a second exam during the
same test session after failing a previous attempt is up to
the VE Team. The VE team is not required to let you take
The team will make their decision based on several factors
which include, but are not limited to, the number of
applicants being processed, the number of VEs available,
and how badly you failed the previous exam. For example, if
you missed passing by one or two questions, many teams will
let you take another exam (a different version, of course).
On the other hand if you missed passing by six or seven
questions the VE team will most likely suggest you go home
and continue studying.
- I heard I can be "Grandfathered" to General.
What's the story?
In some cases a current or former licensee can earn
credit for certain exam elements based on the license
currently or formerly held.
- If you are a current or former Technician class licensee and were granted your Technician license prior to March 21,1987, you have lifetime credit for the Element 3 written exam.
- If you were previously licensed as a General class licensee and your license expired and was subsequently cancelled, you have lifetime credit for the Element 3 written exam.
- If you were previously licensed as an Advanced class licensee and your license expired and was subsequently cancelled, you have lifetime credit for the Element 3 written exam.
- If you were previously licensed as an Amateur Extra class licensee and your license expired and was subsequently cancelled, you have lifetime credit for the Element 3 and Element 4 written exams.
- Okay, I'm eligible for a "grandfathered" elemnt. What do I have to do?
It depends on your current status.
- You must provide proof that you are eligible for the element credit(s). Such proof can be in the form of one of the following:
- The original or photocopy of an expired and cancelled license
- A letter from the FCC stating that you held such a license.
- A reference copy of an expired and cancelled license from the FCC ULS website
- A cover and applicable page from a call sign book that indicates the class of license and date of publication.
- If you are currently unlicensed you must pass the Element 2 exam before you receive your element credit.
- If you are currently licensed you simply show up to an exam session, go through the registration process, present your proof of element credit and you will be issued a CSCE giving you credit for having earned a new class of license depending on your element credit(s).
- I can't find my original license in order to
claim the "Grandfathered" credit for Element 3. How
do I get the letter from the FCC?
Write a letter to the FCC and provide as much
information as possible: The call sign of the license in
question, a time frame of when the license was issued,
address if known, the name under which the license was
issued. Provide anything that might help them
find proof of you being licensed in order to claim credit
for the "grandfathered elements". The address is:
1270 Fairfield Rd
Gettysburg, PA 17325-7245
- How do I become a Volunteer Examiner?
Contact any Laurel VEC VE Team leader.