License Fee Policy Team
The NRC is an independent agency chartered by Congress to regulate the civilian use of nuclear materials. By law, we’re required to recover 90 percent of our budget from the companies and people that we provide services to (such as applicants for licenses, operating nuclear power plants that we inspect, etc.)
The two main laws that govern NRC’s fee recovery are called the Independent Offices Appropriation Act of 1952, and the Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1990, as amended.
Here are some common questions (and answers) about the NRC’s fee structure and process.
Q. Does the NRC get all of its funding from the fees that it charges?
A. No, all NRC funding is appropriated by Congress. The 90 percent of our budget that we collect in fees is paid to the U.S. Treasury. This is called “cost recovery.”
Q. How are the NRC’s budget and the NRC’s fees related?
A. Each year, Congress decides the amount of the NRC’s budget. As our budget increases or decreases, or as the number of applicants and licensees increases or decreases, the amount that must still be recovered from fees may cause the fees to go up or down in a given year.
Q. How does the NRC determine the amount of the fees?
A. The NRC goes through a rulemaking process each year that describes the cost recovery process and allows members of the public to comment on the proposed fees, which is then followed by publication of the final fees.
Q. What are the different types of fees?
A. There are hourly and annual fees. Hourly fees are charged according to how much work the NRC performs for a particular applicant or license. For example, a company with a reactor license may pay $5 million in annual fees, and, in addition, may pay $200,000 for hourly fees because they asked the NRC to review and approve an amendment to their license. Annual fees recover regulatory costs not directly attributed to a licensing action or oversight of a specific license.
Q. What is the hourly staff fee?
A. Currently, the staff fee is $268 per hour. This hourly rate includes the internal costs that are necessary to operate the agency, such as human resources, rent, computer support, etc. Our fees are published every year and the current fees can be found here.
Q. If I want to submit something to the NRC for review, can you tell me what the review will cost?
A. It depends. For some applications, such as import licenses or sealed sources, the NRC charges a flat fee to complete the entire review. For other applications, the NRC charges hourly rates for the full amount of time that agency staff spends on the review of that particular application. Some applications require more review than others.
Q. Are there exceptions for small businesses?
A. Yes, the NRC does take into consideration “small entities.” Please see more information here.
Q. How much does it cost to get a new reactor design certified by the NRC?
A. The two reactor designs most recently certified by the NRC resulted in fees of between $45 million and $70 million. These costs included hourly fees for pre-application interactions between NRC and the applicant, the NRC’s review of the application itself, and the NRC’s review of application revisions that were submitted by the applicant.
Q. What if I want to discuss a potential application with the NRC but don’t have the money to pay large fees?
A. You’re encouraged to call or email the NRC staff to discuss your questions or to set up a meeting. Short, infrequent meetings of a general nature may not be billed. However, more in-depth or technical meetings, or activities such as the review of applications, will incur fees.
Still want to know more? A longer list of Q&As are available here.