How to Get a Restricted Radio Operator Permit

By Pilot Institute
Posted on June 27, 2024 - 3 minute read

In the United States, an FAA-rated pilot does not need a radiotelephony license to communicate using high-frequency (HF) radios. It is part and parcel of your license. However, a radio license becomes necessary when crossing an international border with Mexico or Canada. 

So, how do you get one, and why is it important? In this post, we’ll answer all your questions about getting your FCC Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Permit. 

Key Takeaways

  • Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Permit (RP) is required for international flights.
  • A license can be attained by pilots without examination. 
  • Pilots have to apply online with the FCC and pay $35 to attain their permit. 

What is a Restricted Radio Operator Permit?

A large airliner flies overhead.

An FCC Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Permit (RP) authorizes the holder to operate most aircraft and aeronautical ground stations. 

In 2024, an RP costs $35. It does not expire and will be valid for the holder’s lifetime.

Eligibility Requirements

A Radiotelephone Permit is issued without examination. However, you must meet a few requirements to be eligible for one. They are:

  • Be a legal resident of or hold an aircraft pilot certificate valid in the United States.
  • Be able to speak and hear.
  • Be able to keep at least a rough written log.
  • Be familiar with provisions of applicable treaties, laws, and rules which govern the radio station you will operate.

Steps to Obtain Your Permit

A person logging into the FCC Cores website.

To apply for an RP, you must register with the FCC and get an FRN (FCC Registration Number). Visit the FCC Cores website and click the yellow “register” icon in the box in the middle titled “Need a Username?” 

  1. Getting an FRN is as straightforward as creating an account with the FCC. Fill out the details and click “Create Account.” Once you do, you should automatically get an FRN. 
  2. Once you create your account, log in to the website and click the “Apply for a New License” option on the top left. 
  3. Select the RR-Recruited Operator and continue.
  4. On the applicant questions page, leave everything as it is. It should say Regular on type. Select no for exemption from application or license fees and continue. 
  5. Fill out your information and continue.
  6. Click that you are eligible for employment in the US and continue. 
  7. Double-check your information, ensure it’s all entered correctly, and continue.
  8. Agree to all the statements and continue. 
  9. Sign the document electronically and continue. 
  10. Login in to confirm your submission and continue.
  11. Fill out form 159 and pay using your credit or debit card. 

Once your payment goes through, you’re all set. You should receive an email with a link to print your official copy of the license.

Why Do You Need a Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Permit?

An airline captain in the flight deck.

In the US, an RP isn’t necessary. It is considered part and parcel of your FAA pilot’s license, as radio communications are tested during check rides. However, a radiotelephony license is required in other countries to operate radios. 

In many ICAO member states, pilots must demonstrate proper aviation terminology and techniques, sit for a written exam, and then take a practical exam for VFR and IFR radio communication procedures. 

As a result, when flying internationally, FAA pilots must have an RP license ready if asked.

With that in mind, if you plan on flying for the airlines (even the regionals), you are going to need one.

So better to get it out of the way now!

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