PVVET And FCC Updates

At this moment in time, exams hosted by the Pioneer Valley VE Team (PVVET) are still on hold. Due to the COVID-19 situation, the venues we normally use have placed restrictions to where we can not host an exam. We are keeping our eyes and ears open for any venues that will allow us and abide by any safety guidelines.

We are eager to bring back exams here in the Valley. The moment we secure a Venue that is safe for all, we will be making announcements.

FCC Is Imposing Fees

The FCC will be requiring a $35 application fee in the future. This applies to anyone obtaining a license, upgrading their license, renewing their license and to those who are applying for a vanity callsign. Admin actions such as address, e-mail or name changes will remain free.

This is independent from the VECs (Volunteer Exam Coordinator). The PVVET or any other VEC or VE (Volunteer Examiner) team will NOT be accepting FCC application fees at exams. This is done electronically through the FCC. The applicant will be responsible for paying the fee. At the time of writing, the FCC hasn’t implemented the fees… yet!

Please note that the PVVET and Laurel VEC do not charge for examinations. However, other VECs (ARRL, W5YI) still charge for the administration of the exam which is separate from any FCC fees. Budget accordingly!

FCC Requiring Valid E-mail Address.

The FCC will be requiring a valid e-mail address for candidates taking a new exam or for any application or admin update (renewal, vanity, name change, address change).

For new candidates, this will be done when obtaining a FCC Registration Number (FRN) through their ULS/CORES system.

For renewals, upgrades and vanity apps, the candidate/applicant will have to log into the FCC’s ULS and update their records prior to submitting an application. If you have a FRN but never logged into the ULS, you’ll have to do a password reset.

If you do not provide a valid e-mail address, your application could be dismissed and any licenses could be canceled. Careful!

This will be implemented in late June of 2021

FCC Will No Longer Be Accepting Social Security Numbers On Form 605

The FCC will be no longer be accepting Social Security Numbers (SSN) on the NCVEC 605 Form (AKA “NCVEC QUICK-FORM 605”) that is normally used with ALL amateur radio examinations.

This has been PVVET policy since our team was founded. We’ve always required candidates to obtain a FRN prior to the exam. However this will eventually be applied to ALL VE teams regardless of the VEC (ARRL, W5YI, Etc). Laurel VEC has implemented this policy starting January 1st, 2021 for ALL Laurel VE teams. Others VECs may have not implemented it yet.

You will still have to provide the FCC with a valid SSN but it will be done through their website.

What Does This All Mean?

The FCC is changing over to a paperless and fully electronic system. All correspondence from the FCC will be sent electronically. They will no longer accept mailed in applications. This also requires ALL candidates, no matter where or who they are taking an exam with to obtain a FCC Registration Number (FRN) prior to the exam as the VE team will need that number.

The FCC will be implementing a $35 application fee that will have to be paid online through the FCC’s website. This fee is because of the RAY-BAUM Act (Repack Airways Yielding Better Access for Users of Modern services) enacted by congress in 2018. It was originally a $50 fee but due to outcry from the amateur radio community, they’ve lowered the fee to $35

This can be difficult for certain people that don’t have access or have limited access to a computer and/or e-mail. Also difficult for people that do not have a credit/debit card. There isn’t much the PVVET can do. We will try our best to help you.

What Will Change With PVVET Examinations?

At this point in time, nothing much. However, that can change as things are updated and implemented. Here is what will most likely happen with PVVET related exams.

The exam registration process will be the same except the candidate will most likely have to confirm their e-mail address with the FCC.

The examination itself and the grading process will not change.

Passing candidates will be instructed what to do after the examination with a handout. It’s the responsibility of the candidate to pay the application fee AFTER the exam has been submitted to the FCC .

The PVVET will no longer be able to e-mail candidates directly when their license is issued/updated. They should be receiving an e-mail from the FCC when a license is issued/updated. This depends on variables such as payment received and felon status.

How Can I Take An Exam?

Even though we’re not hosting any exams at this moment in time, there are other ways you can take an exam. We suggest that you take an exam before the FCC implements any fees

Check with the ARRL’s “Find an Exam” page and see if there is a in-person exam being hosted near you. It’s strongly suggested to contact the liaison to confirm they are hosting exams prior to attending.

You can take examinations online! In 2014 the FCC authorized VECs to host examinations remotely. Originally it was meant for hosting exams in remote areas like Alaska but has been adapted for the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are many VECs and VE teams hosting examinations online. There are requirements and they will differ depending on who is administering the examination. Usually it’s a copy of ZOOM software, decent internet connection (to support video streaming and web access), web browser, photo ID, per-registration and electronic payment. Some teams/VECs require an additional camera (smart/cell phone).

If you are interested in taking a remote exam, we suggest you head over Hamstudy.org’s online session page and find a session that suites your needs. You’ll see if the session is full or if there is available seats as they are limited. We STRONGLY suggest that you thoroughly read the guidelines/rules that pertain to that particular exam as they will be different from other teams!

Once the PVVET is able to secure a venue and resume in-person examinations, we will be making announcements on all our social media accounts including this website. We do look forward to helping those obtain and/or upgrade their FCC amateur radio license.

Thanks for reading,
Jeff (NT1K)
Pioneer Valley VE Team

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