FCC, CDBS, and FRN: Recovering On-Line Account Information

When you, or Prometheus, or anyone files FCC paperwork using the FCC's on-line CDBS filing system, both the CDBS account/password and the FRN number/password are required. You'll need the accounts whenever you change information on file at the FCC: renewing and filing your license, moving your antenna, updating your board members, and much more.

It is unfortunately pretty common to lose track of these accounts. Read on...

What the Heck is a CDBS Account?

CDBS is the FCC's on-line form-filing system for most radio-station paperwork To access the system you need to know your account number and password. CDBS account numbers do not seem to be public information.

When you have your account information, you can log in to the CDBS system here

To find your station's former FCC filings and applications, go here.

Lucky ways to Recover CDBS Account Number and Password

  1. Who else might know? If you didn't fill out the on-line paperwork yourself, or shared the task, check with the other people who've had access. Legal and engineering providers may keep records of your accounts.
  2. Does your computer remember? Or somebody else's? If you can find computers used to work on your FCC CDBS application(s) in the past, they may remember the account number and password. Want to try it right now? Click here to visit the CDBS login page.

    Since the password is usually obscured, you'll probably need to learn how to reveal hidden passwords.

    Consider asking all the people you thought about in #1 too.

  3. Digging through your notes... In case your notes aren't clearly labeled, CDBS account numbers are often 6 digits long -- sometimes fewer.

The Unlucky Official Recovery Method

You might want to skim the CDBS User's Guide linked from the CDBS login page, but it is almost certain that you'll end up on the phone with the FCC's CDBS Help Desk at 202-418-2MMB (202-418-2662). They'll probably ask you to prove that you are an authorized representative of the organization to whom your station is licensed. You may also find it handy to know your station's facility ID, or one of your station's application file numbers, which you can find on your license or construction permit, or you can look it up.

CDBS account recovery can be a slow and frustrating process.

The I-Gave-Up! Method

Yeah it happens...

It is pretty easy to simply make a new CDBS account (but you'll eventually need the same FRN you used before, (see below). Here are our instructions for creating a CDBS account.

What is an FRN (Federal Registration Number)?

This little FCC FRN FAQ is a good introduction, though mostly what you need to know is that you need a FRN and password in order to file FCC forms on line.

Finding your FRN.

Luckily, your former FCC applications are public information, and on those forms is your FRN number. To find yours, search for your station at the FCC's CDBS Application Search page and then click on the newest (top) application link. The FRN is usually in the very first section of your application, and often, but not always, begins with "00".

You can also try searching directly for your FRN on the main FCC FRN web page.

Lost your FRN password?

It might be worth using the steps #1 and #2 above to recover your FRN password, but if that doesn't work out, go to the main FCC FRN web page. The Forgot Password? link there is often all you'll require, although sometimes the e-mail address to where the recovery password is emailed may no longer be accessible to you.

On the same page is both the phone number and e-mail address of the FRN Help desk.

NOTE that if you use for example the [UPDATE] button to try out password guesses, that the FRN system will lock you out after a small number of attempts (5).