We wish to alert our foreign carrier clients and friends to the FCC's pending Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) which seeks to make changes to CORES (short for COmmission REgistration System), which is used to assign FCC Registration Numbers (FRNs). The FCC uses FRNs to identify individuals and companies doing business before them. In particular, FRNs must be used by entities to apply for licenses, make payments, report ownership, or to submit various other filings and notifications with the FCC.
In the NPRM, the FCC proposes, among other things, to require foreign entities operating within the U.S., or who have employees working in the U.S., to submit to the FCC a taxpayer identification number (TIN) or employee identification number (EIN) in order to receive an FRN. Currently, the FCC permits foreign entities to decline to provide their TIN/EIN in certain instances.
Further, with regard to foreign entities that do not operate or have employees in the U.S., the FCC proposes to require these entities, as a condition of obtaining an FRN, to provide some form of equivalent tax identification number issued by their home government. The FCC seeks comments on its assumption that all or most foreign carriers have such an identifying number. If adopted, this rule would eliminate the current TIN/EIN exception for such entities.
The FCC also seeks comments on whether it should apply these proposed new rules to entities that have already been issued an FRN without providing a TIN/EIN or an equivalent tax identification number issued by their home government. Should these existing FRN holders be "grandfathered" into CORES, or should they be required to comply with any new rules that are adopted? And in the event the FCC decides against "grandfathering," the FCC has asked for comments on the time period for requiring existing FRN holders to submit the required information.
The FCC also proposes to require entities to rely on a single FRN, instead of multiple FRNs, as is currently allowed. If the FCC adopts this change, it likely will require many FRN holders to make significant corrections and updates to information already on file.
Please note that comments are due March 3, 2011 and reply comments on March 18, 2011.