Radio Frequency (RF) Devices

Radio Frequency (RF) Devices

Are you familiar with the Radio Frequency process?

When RF devices are placed into the U.S. market place, many factors need to be taken into consideration with regards to regulations. One of these factors is to determine if the device is subject to FCC rules.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), as the federal agency responsible for implementing and enforcing America’s communications law and regulations, annually issues the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), a codification of the general and permanent rules published in the Federal Register by the departments and agencies of the Federal Government.

The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) is divided into 50 Titles, which contain one or more individual volumes. Each title is divided into chapters and each chapter is divided into Parts.

All parts are organized in sections and most citations to the CFR refer to material at the section level. “Title 47” of the CFR contains FCC’s rules and regulations for “Telecommunication”.

Radio Frequency (RF) Devices are required to be properly authorized under “47 CFR Part 2” prior to being placed and operated in the U.S. market.

This is one of the principal ways FCC ensures that RF devices, used in the United States, operate effectively without causing harmful interference and also comply with the rules that address other policy objectives such as human RF exposure limits and hearing aid compatibility (HAC) with wireless handsets.

FCC Approval Process

There are two different approval procedures for equipment authorization – Certification and Supplier’s Declaration of Conformity (SDoC).

The required procedure depends on the type of equipment being authorized as specified in the applicable rule part (see Step 4 – Steps to Obtain Equipment Authorization).

The seven steps for obtaining equipment authorization are:

Step 1 – Determine FCC Rules that Apply

  • Determine if device is a Radio Frequency (RF)device subject to the FCC rules.
  • Determine all applicable technical and administrative rules that apply to the device requiring an equipment authorization.
  • The technical requirements are generally specified in the applicable FCC rule parts and the administrative rules are specified in 47 CFR part 2, subpart J.

Step 2 – Equipment Authorization Procedures

If a device is subject to FCC rules, determine the specific type of equipment authorization that applies to the device.

Become familiar with all the basic marketing, equipment authorization, and importation rules.

In some instances, a device may have different functions resulting in the device being subject to more than one type of approval procedure.

Determine the applicable equipment authorization procedure for your device.

Step 3 – Compliance Testing

Perform the required tests to ensure the device complies with the applicable technical requirements (as determined in step 1).

The qualifications of the testing laboratory used to demonstrate compliance is based on the approval procedure you are required to use (as determined in step 2):

  • Supplier’s Declaration of Conformity (SDoC)
    Equipment approved using SDoC is required to be tested, however, it is not necessary to use an FCC-recognized accredited testing laboratory. However, as minimum the testing laboratory used is required to maintain a record of the measurement facilities as specified in Section 2.948 and a record of the measurements made as specified in Section 2.938.
  • Certification
    Equipment approved under the Certification procedure is required to be tested by an FCC-recognized accredited testing laboratory. [For a list of currently FCC-recognized accredited testing laboratory see Equipment Authorization System Test Firm Search]

Step 4 – Approval

After the testing is complete and your device is found to comply, finalize the approval process based on the applicable approval procedure:

sort by Supplier’s Declaration of Conformity (SDoC)
  • The responsible party, as specified in the rules, warrants that each unit of equipment complies with the applicable FCC rules.
  • The responsible party maintains all of the required documentation demonstrating compliance with the applicable FCC rules.
  • The responsible party prepares a compliance information statement to be supplied with the product at the time of marketing.
sort by Certification
  • The responsible party, typically the manufacturer, obtains an FCC Registration Number (FRN) for a device requiring Certification. The FRN is a 10-digit number used to identify the individual or organization doing business with the FCC. The same FRN will be used for future approvals.
  • After obtaining an FRN, the responsible party obtains a Grantee Code from the Commission by applying at the Grantee Registration  A grantee code is required the first time a party applies for certification and can be used for all future approvals.
  • The responsible party files with a Telecommunication Certification Body (TCB) an application for a grant of certification.  An application for equipment authorization requires submission of information about the product, as listed in Section 2.1033. The applicant must submit the required information to a TCBfor review as part of the certification process. [For a list of FCC recognized TCBs see]
  • The TCB reviews all of the supporting information and the evaluation results to determine if the product complies with the FCC requirements.
  • Once the TCB makes a decision to certify the product the supporting information is uploaded to the FCC Equipment Authorization Electronic System (EAS) – Database.
  • A grant of certification is issued by the TCB on the FCC Equipment Authorization Electronic System (EAS) – Database.

Step 5 – Label/Manual/Record Retention

  • Label the product and provide the required customer information.
  • For more information see Labeling Guidelines – KDB Publication 784748.
  • Maintain all documentation as part of the responsibility for the retention of records and ensure that the manufactured products are in compliance.
  • Section 2.938– Requirements for the retention of records of equipment subject to FCC approval.

 Step 6 – Manufacture/Import/Market

  • When exporting products to the United States, follow the FCC importation
  • Importation– Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Marketingof radio frequency devices prior to equipment authorization.
  • NOTE – Determining all applicable technical and administrative rules requires a technical understanding of the electrical functions of the device and an understanding of the FCC rules.  For assistance, we recommend that you work with one of the FCC recognized accredited testing laboratoriesor TCBs.  Questions can also be submitted through the Knowledge Database (KDB).

 Step 7 – Modifications to approved products

Changes to your product design may require an additional approval.  KDB Publication 178919 gives general guidance when making changes to a previously approved product. See the permissive change rules in Section 2.1043 for:

  • Modifications that may be made to an RF device without filing for a new equipment authorization;
  • Three different types of permissive changes; and
  • Identifies when a permissive change filing with the Commission is required.


References: Equipment Authorization

Interested in related information about FCC Certification ? Visit our Changed FCC Approval Guide