The Amateur Radio vanity call sign regulatory fee is set to disappear in the next few weeks. According to the best-available information from FCC sources, the first day that applicants will be able to file a vanity application without having to pay a fee is Thursday 3rd September 2015.
In deciding earlier this year to drop the regulatory fee components for Amateur Radio vanity call signs and General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) applications, the FCC said it was doing so to save money and personnel resources. The Commission asserted that it costs more of both to process the regulatory fees and issue refunds than the amount of the regulatory fee payment.
"Our costs have increased over time, and now that the costs exceed the amount of the regulatory fee, the increased relative administrative cost supports eliminating this regulatory fee category," the FCC said in its Report and Order, which appeared on July 21 in The Federal Register. "Once [it's] eliminated, these licensees will no longer be financially burdened with such payments, and the Commission will no longer incur these administrative costs that exceed the fee payments."
The FCC raised the Amateur Service vanity call sign regulatory fee from $16.10 to its current $21.40 for the 10-year license term in 2014. The $5.30 increase was the largest such fee hike in many years. In a typical fiscal year, the FCC collected on the order of $250,000 in vanity call sign regulatory fees.
The FCC said the revenue it would otherwise collect from such regulatory fees "will be proportionally assessed on other wireless fee categories." Congress has mandated that the FCC collect nearly $340 million in regulatory fees from all services in fiscal year 2015.