United States International Services Licensing Regime



Editor’s Note:


The provision of international services in the United States requires a “s. 214 authorization”, that is, an authorization issued pursuant to s. 214 of the U.S. Communications Act of 1934. 


The following description of the American international services licensing regime is adapted from: “214 Filing Guidelines – Sample Section 214 Application”, the full text of which is available at: http://www.fcc.gov/ib/pd/pf/214guide.html.   A link to this document is set out below.


Summary – Section 214 Filing Guidelines


Any party seeking to provide common carrier communications services between the United States and a foreign point ("International Services") must obtain an Authorization from the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) pursuant to Section 214 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended. 47 U.S.C. § 214.  The FCC’s rules applicable to Section 214 applications are found in Title 47 of the Code of Federal Regulations in rule 63.18.

Authorizations obtained under Section 214 are specific to the particular facilities and destination markets for which the holder of the authorization has applied.  In other words, a Section 214 authorization is not a licence to provide international services between the United States and all foreign locations.  Thus, an international service provider in the United States may hold a number of Section 214 authorizations, depending on the nature of the service provider’s operations and destination markets.

The Application for a Section 214 Authorization

An applicant seeking Authorization to construct a new line, or to acquire or operate any line, or engage in transmission for the provision of International Services must request such authority by formal application.  Applicants may request authority to provide International Services on a facilities-basis and/or resale-basis, and may request such authority to apply globally or to specific foreign points.

An Authorization permits a carrier to provide International Services on a common carrier basis subject to the provisions of the "exclusion list" contained in such Authorizations. The exclusion list contains a list of international routes to which Section 214 authority does not apply and it also lists methods by which Authorization holders may not provide services.

The application for an Authorization is a formal document that must be prepared by the applicant.  The application must set out information concerning a range of matters, including, for example, information about the applicant; the applicant’s business and corporate ownership structure; the nature of the authorization being sought;  the foreign locations in which the applicant proposes to provide services;  whether the services will be offered on a resale or facilities basis; and the applicant’s affiliations with foreign telecommunications service providers, among other information. 

The type of information that must be provided varies depending on the type of s. 214 authorization that is being sought.  Title 14, Section 63.18 of the Code of Federal Regulations specifies the information that must be included in an application for an Authorization.  “Section 214 Filing Guidelines” contains a detailed overview of the information that must be provided by applicants, as well as a sample application.  A link to this document is set out below.

Section 214 applications must also include a certification signed by an officer or director of the applicant.  The officer or director must certify, on behalf of the applicant, a variety of information, including, for example, information about the applicant’s affiliations with certain foreign carriers and a commitment to abide by certain terms and conditions.  A sample certification is included in “Section 214 Filing Guidelines”.


An applicant must submit an application fee with an application for Authorization. The current filing fee can be found in the FCC’s fee filing guide on the FCC web site.

The Application Process

Applicants may file Section 214 applications electronically or by paper.  Paper applications must be submitted to Mellon Bank, where they are then forwarded to the International Bureau of the FCC for review.

The FCC has adopted procedures to streamline applications for international Section 214 authorizations under Section 63.18 of the Commission’s Rules, 47 C.F.R. § 63.18.  Applicants for global facilities-based or resale authority are eligible for streamlined processing unless otherwise prohibited from doing so by Section 63.12(c) of the FCC’s rules.  In general, applicants that are not affiliated with foreign telecommunications service providers will be eligible for streamlined processing.  However, Section 63.12(c) stipulates that an applicant does not qualify for streamlining procedures if the applicant is affiliated with a foreign carrier in a destination market that the applicant seeks to serve, unless the applicant can bring itself under one of a number of stipulated exemptions from the prohibition.

Once an application is received by the International Bureau of the FCC, the application is reviewed internally.  If it appears on initial review that the application is suitable for filing, the application is placed on public notice.  The public notice also indicates whether the application appears eligible for streamlined processing or not.  A copy of each application is placed in the FCC Office of Public Affairs Reference and Information Centre in Washington D.C., where it is available for public inspection.

Applications that are eligible for streamlined processing are deemed to be granted fourteen days from the date of the public notice, unless the Commission informs the applicant in writing within this fourteen day period that the application is ineligible for streamlined processing.  Barring such notice from the FCC, the applicant may begin providing international services pursuant to the Section 214 authorization on the fifteenth day.

Applications that are ineligible for streamlined processing are not deemed granted until the FCC has acted affirmatively on these applications, either by public notice or by written order.  In the case of applications that are ineligible for streamlined processing, interested parties may file comments about the application within 28 days of the date of the public notice of the application.







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