FCC radio license to fly international?

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I have been told from several sources that it's necessary to get an
FCC Radio License to legally fly into Mexico (or anywhere outside US
borders). But then I've been told that no one checks for that
license, and I've also been told that it's not necessary. Can
anyone clear up this issue?

-- Lars Helgeson, May 18, 2006


Legally speaking, the airplane needs to have aircraft station license, and one of the people in the plane should have a restricted operator permit. Both licenses are available for a fee from the FCC and are valid indefinitely.

As far as I have heard, this law is not enforced too vigorously.

Here's a page from the FCC's website explaining the procedure and links to the relevant forms: http://wireless.fcc.gov/aviation/fctsht4.html

-- Tal Reichert, May 18, 2006

Having just purchased a station license, the cost was $110 and it is valid for 10 years. Since the was applied for on-line, all the gummint had to do was to print the resulting license. Not bad income.

I've had a radiotelephone op license since 1958 so I can't comment on how much that would cost.

-- Bruce Marshall, July 17, 2007

Having just obtained both an Aircraft Radio Station License for the aircraft and a Restricted Radio Operator's Permit for yourself, I got a bit confused about the forms and ended up calling the FAA. You fill out the same form for both permits, which you can submit using the online system:


The useful thing to know is that for the Aircraft Radio Station License, you want radio service code "AC", and for the Restricted Radio Operator's Permit, you want "RR". The latter wasn't pretty non-obvious to me.

The aircraft license can be registered to an entity (useful to me, since the plane is owned by a partnership, which is an LLC), but the operator's permit apparently must be assigned to an individual.

One you know the codes to use, the online form is pretty easy to use.

-- Wilfredo Sanchez, December 18, 2007

radio operator

-- zaheer jatoi, January 14, 2009

"As far as I have heard, this law is not enforced too vigorously."

For the most part, you are correct. The *only* place where I've had ALL of the documentation pulled off the aircraft and examined was returning to the U.S. through customs in Michigan. Those guys were thorough. Going the other way, I've rarely had any face-to-face interaction with a human.

-- Jason Hackney, January 14, 2009