Here is what the ARRL is recommending for folks wishing to upgrade to General or Extra without taking a Morse test:



Technician Class Licensees


FCC modifies the Amateur Radio Service rules by eliminating the Morse code exam requirements.

The effective date of the FCC's action will be 30 days after publication in the Federal Register -- most likely in February.


In an historic move, the FCC has acted to drop the Morse code test requirement for all Amateur Radio license classes. The Commission adopted the long-awaited "Morse code" proceeding (WT Docket 05-235), and released it December 19. The FCC's action will eliminate the Morse code test as a licensing requirement to operate on HF.


Technicians Gain Operating Privileges

Once the changes are in effect, all Technician licensees -- whether or not they have passed a Morse code examination -- will have "Tech Plus" operating privileges. This means you will have all of your current VHF/UHF and above frequencies and also will have access to the Novice/Technician Plus frequencies on HF. 


No Morse Code Test to Upgrade

Technicians can upgrade to General by passing the General (Element 3) written exam and to Amateur Extra by also passing the Extra (Element 4) written exam.  No Morse code test will be required.  Visit the ARRL VEC exam search web page  for test session locations.



Navigating through the Upgrade Process


1.  Technician Amateurs who wish to upgrade to General have a couple of options.   


a.  We recommend that Technician licensees who have NOT yet passed the General written exam (Element 3) wait until the new rules take effect to upgrade.  At a session, the candidate must present a photo ID and their current license, pay the $14 test session fee and fill out the NCVEC form 605.  If the Element 3 written exam is passed, the VE team will issue the candidate a CSCE for the upgrade to a general class license.


b.  Technician licensees who have already passed the General written exam (Element 3) or wish to pass the General written exam before the rules take effect, will then have to apply for the upgrade at a VE session once the new rules are in place.  At a session, the candidate must present a photo ID, their current license and the non-expired CSCE document, pay the $14 test session fee and fill out a NCVEC form 605.  If the Element 3 written exam credit is valid, the VE team will issue the candidate a CSCE for the upgrade to a general class license.  If the CSCE for Element 3 credit has expired (a CSCE is only valid for 365 days), you will have to retake the examination element in order to receive the credit toward your upgrade.


2.  Post Session Process


The VE Team must prepare and mail all session paperwork to the coordinating VEC.  Once the session arrives at the VEC, in accordance with FCC rules, the VEC staff must verify all session documentation.  All 605 forms and CSCEs must have the candidate’s signature and 3 VE signatures.  The CSCEs used for General written exam element credit must be validated as being passed within the previous 365 days and/or the test documents must be confirmed as being passed.  Finally, the session data and information from the 605 forms can then be keyed and submitted to the FCC.  The upgrade should appear in the FCC database  within a few hours and a new license copy will arrive in the mail in 7 to 10 days.



VEC Test Fee


As you can see, much of the same work is involved in both types of General class upgrades, therefore the administrative costs are embedded in the process. 

The FCC has mandated that all paperwork only upgrades be done through a VEC via their VE Teams.  The processing and administration of FCC "projects" such as this, actually places a greater demand on all the VECs.  This is not a special case involving only a few people; we expect to receive a flood of upgrades to General.  The paperwork only upgrade is not automatic for the amateur and the forms may not be sent directly to the FCC or the VEC office (again the upgrade must occur at a test session and follow FCC guidelines).  The VEC test session fee is regulated (per annual agreement) by the FCC.



A New Era


When the new rules are in place, we hope you explore your new band allocations, enjoy your new privileges

and have fun!



Maria A. Somma,  AB1FM

Manager,  ARRL/VEC