When Do I Need FCC Approval to Transfer a License
And How Do I Get It?
If you make changes in the ownership of an entity
that is regulated by the Federal Communications Commission
(FCC), you may need the Commission's prior approval. Such
changes would include changes in control of the entity (both
changes in equity or the granting of certain rights, such
as a right to appoint a majority of the directors), or a merger
of the entity into another company. Likewise, if you want
to sell certain assets of an entity that is subject to FCC
jurisdiction, or if you plan to assign a license or an authorization
that is granted by the FCC, you likely need prior Commission
approval. There are some exceptions to these general principles,
such as changes of control of a licensee where ultimate control
still resides with the same persons or entities. But even
in these circumstances, detailed notice to the FCC after such
pro forma changes take place is often still required.
Obtaining FCC approval for changes of control
of a licensee, or assignments or transfers of authorizations
or licenses involves filing an application with the FCC and
paying a predetermined FCC filing fee. The application process,
including its associated review time, and the applicable filing
fees vary according to the type of license involved. For example,
in the case of domestic Section 214 authorizations, the process
has been streamlined and could take as little as 30 days.
International licenses could take as little as 14 days. Since
prior FCC approval is often required before a sale or merger
transaction can be closed, preparing, filing and prosecuting
the appropriate application is a critical step in the acquisition
process. Failure to obtain prior FCC approval, when it is
required, could result in fines or forfeitures - including
an FCC requirement to unwind the transaction.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to get Commission
The processing period varies according to the
license type. Some transfers are streamlined and if you qualify
for the streamlined processing, Commission approval is granted
automatically after a certain number of days - after which
you can close your transaction. If you don't qualify for streamlined
processing (such as in the case of large mergers in the public
eye), the Commission will establish a timeline (usually over
180 days or less) pursuant to which it conducts its review,
but to which it is not bound.
How much does it cost
to obtain the FCC approval?
The filing fees vary by the type of service.
See the Commission's fee schedule on fcc.gov to identify the
applicable FCC filing fee. Our llegal fees are often flat
rated. Contact us for more information.
If I have multiple
licenses, can I file one application? Can I pay only one FCC
In general, although most licenses of the same
type can be included on the same transfer application, licenses
of different types must be filed with their respective Bureaus.
In some cases, the FCC will consolidate the applications and
coordinate their review. But a separate filing fee must accompany
each application. For example, if an entity has CMRS licenses,
domestic private lines and provides international services
under an International 214 license, applications would need
to be filed with the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, the
Wireline Competition Bureau and the International Bureau --
although the domestic and international 214 transfers could
be bundled in one application that is filed with both bureaus.
The FCC would expect to receive a filing fee of $1050 for
the domestic 214 license transfer, another $1050 for the international
214 license transfer, and $55 for each CMRS license to be
Do I need approval
from the states as well as from the FCC?
If you have an authorization from a state, you
will likely need prior approval from the state before changing
control of the licensed entity or assigning the license. The
actual requirements, however, vary considerably from state
to state. We can assist you with state filings as well. Click
here for more information.
Do I need approval
to simply cancel my license?
Usually, yes. Click here
for more information on canceling a 214 license or a 499A
Contact Our Attorneys
to Transfer your Telecommunications License
If you need assistance in drafting or negotiating
your telecommunications contract, contact
our law offices in the Washington, DC metro area to speak
with an experienced lawyer.
The law offices of Thomas Lynch & Associates provides legal advice to telecommunications businesses throughout the United States, including Washington, DC, New York, Los Angeles, San Jose and Palo Alto.
And How to Get Started
Who Needs FCC Approval? An entity that plans to undergo
a change of control or merger, or transfer or assign any license
granted by the FCC or certain assets regulated by the FCC
needs prior commission approval, with limited exceptions.
How Long Does It Take? The process varies by the type
of licenses involved. The shortest period is typically 14
days. The longest period should be no more than 180 days for
complex mergers involving multiple licenses of varying types.
Generally, you should figure at least 30 days.
How Much Does it Cost? The FCC's filing fees vary
according to the license type. Our fees are flat rated and
How Do I Get Started? Contact us by phone or e-mail
to begin the application process. Contact information is here.
What Our Clients Say
thought it would take a lot longer to get the approvals. But
Tom Lynch was able to obtain our international license in
only a few weeks. We'll definitely call him again for our
Lijun Niu, President
Nucom Technology, Inc.
Lynch is prompt, professional and affordable. His in-depth
knowledge of domestic regulatory issues and compliance is
outstanding. We now to turn to Tom for all of our licensing
Gregory Wasilewski, President
IPC Network Services, Inc.