License Application Guide

American Portable Nuclear Gauge Association

This is a stand-alone version from the Training Manual. For the full length training manual click here.

Every NRC and Agreement State regulatory agency offers a licensing application and guide that applicants must use. The NRC Form 313 License Application and the NRC NUREG 1556, Volume 1 Application Guide are used for applicants in a NRC State, but also act as templates for the license applications and guides used by the Agreement States. In fact, many Agreement States allow you to use the NRC license application for their state.

Most Agreement States require you to use their application and guide. And you will find that most Agreement States require additional information not found on the NRC application.

Moisture density gauge owners are required to have a “Specific License”. A specific license allows for the use of a device with sealed sources and places the responsibility of protecting the general public and environment in the hands of the licensee. The sealed sources must only be used in the device and for the purposes intended as described in the license and the gauge SSD (Sealed Source & Device) sheet.

Newcomers seeking a license may find the process a bit bewildering. There is a lot of information to be covered and understood. But in all fairness, you should not qualify for a license unless you thoroughly understand the requirements of a license.

Fortunately, there is a wealth of information regarding the application and regulatory requirements. Do not try and complete this process by relying solely on the CFR’s (Code of Federal Regulations). You’ll only end up frustrated and confused. Think of the CFR’s as the in-depth legalese version of the regulations, whereas licensing guides put the CFR’s into an understandable “English”. Look in the appendices for links to the CFR’s.

The NRC NUREG 1556, Volume 1 Guide walks the NRC State applicant through the process. But it is also worthwhile to view some of the Agreement State guides, even if you are not applying in that particular state. Their guides offer varied approaches to the same process, which sometimes helps to better understood your state guide. Remember, some states require more information than the state you are applying in. You may not have to supply that information but covering the material will often give you a better understanding of the overall requirements.

You can access Agreement State websites or contact information and their license applications and licensing guides by using the View My State section on the APNGA homepage.

Another excellent resource for the license application process is the gauge manufacturer. Most have put useful guides on their websites. Information such as the SSD sheet, Type “A” Package Testing, Certificates of Competent Authority, and gauge manuals and applications should be readily available. Look under the “Industry Section, Gauge Manufacturers” for contact information.

The licensing application, once submitted to the regulatory agency, can take 6-8 weeks. And that’s if everything is in order. You must submit a non-refundable application fee with the application. If you are not granted a license the fee will not be returned. Regulatory agencies receive most of their funding from license fees. The time and effort they put into your application is payment for evaluating your application.

When considering ownership of gauges you will want to factor in the fees charged by the agencies. License application, renewal, inspection, amendment and reciprocity fees should be factored into the equation.

You can also expect a pre-license inspection before you receive a license. The agency will conduct background and in-person inspections of your company, premises, storage area, security and your understanding of the license requirements.

The information below will give a quick introduction to the requirements of the NRC Form 313 requirements. A copy of Form 313 can be found at Print one out and follow along. Another excellent resource is the NRC Gauging Devices Licensee Toolkit at  The APNGA homepage and appendices also provide examples of applications and guides.

The application requires 13 responses. You should view these as a minimum set of requirements for a license. Most Agreement States will require additional information:

1)    Decide which you are applying for:

a)    New License
b)    Amendment to License Amendment
c)    Renewal of License

2)    Applicants Name and Mailing Address

This must be the person/entity with direct control over the gauge. It cannot be a division or department of a company – it must be the company. An individual can only apply in a private capacity – they cannot personally license the gauge and use it under direct use and employment of a company.

3)    Address Where Licensed Material Will Be Used or Possessed

This is the location where you will be storing the gauge. A description and sketch of the area should be kept on file. If you plan on storing the gauge at a temporary storage area you should add the line “temporary jobsites anywhere in the United States where NRC maintains jurisdiction”.

4)    Name of Person to be Contacted About This Application

Typically the designated Radiation Safety Officer (RSO), this is the person that the NRC will contact regarding any questions about the application, and if granted, any questions about the license and radiation safety program.

Always let the NRC know if a different person is designated. If allowable, assign an assistant RSO as well – just make sure that person is equally qualified and informed.

Remember, senior management must sign a commitment to be responsible for the radiation safety, security and control of gauges and compliance with the regulations. They are responsible for the completeness and accuracy of safety records and information provided to the NRC. They must be knowledgeable about the contents of the license and application. They must commit adequate resources, including space, equipment, personnel and time to the radiation protection program to where it ensures that public and worker safety is assured. They must assign and work with a qualified RSO to manage an effective program.

Submit items 5-11 on attached 8 ½ x 11 sheets of paper.

5)    Radioactive Material

The information you need to provide in this section pertains to the radioactive materials, their physical form and the quantities of each material in the gauge. All of this information can be found on what is known as a SSD (Sealed Source and Device) Registration Certificate.

The SSD is in essence an approval certificate/license granted to a gauge manufacturer to manufacture and sell a gauge model. In the same way a sealed source must be approved by a competent authority, a gauge model must be approved by a regulatory agency. Once one agency approves a gauge all other agencies will likewise approve the gauge. Documentation will be filed for all agencies to access. The information you provide will include a registration number that the agency will cross-reference that shows that shows the details of the gauge.

You can obtain a copy of the SSD Registration Certificate and/or registration number from the manufacturer. Check their website or contact them. This is the information you will provide for Item #5.

The information will include the radioactive materials, typically Cesium 137 and Americium 241. The physical or chemical form is “sealed source” and usually includes a drawing number. The quantities are usually 9-10 millicuries for Cesium 137 and 40-50 millicuries for Americium 241. The quantities should be spelled out on the certificate.

It is important to note that whatever you list on your application will become a condition of your license, and any changes/amendments to your license will cost money. Don’t “pigeonhole” yourself.  If you initially apply for one specific model/manufacturer of gauge and want to try a different type of gauge in the future you will likely be charged an amendment fee to do so. List all applicable models/manufacturers of gauges on your initial application.

The regulatory agency will issue a license that caps the cumulative amount of radioactive material or overall number of gauges, regardless of manufacturer, you can own at any one time. Although you may have no say in the number of gauges they initially allow, if you do have an initial number in mind, including future needs, you will want to request that number in the application.

So, to reiterate, your example entries for Item #5 should be:

Element and Mass Number
Physical Form*
Quantity per Gauge*
Cesium 137 Sealed Source <10mCi
Americium 241 Sealed Source <50mCi

*Obtain the information from the manufacturer’s SSD sheets. Include the number of gauges you anticipate owning. Type your answers on an 8 ½ x 11 sheet of paper and attach a copy of the SSD sheets if available.

6)    Purposes for Which Licensed Materials Will be Used

The SSD sheets should also contain information about how the gauge should be used, typically for “the measurement of physical properties of materials”. Enter this description on a separate sheet of paper for Item #6.

7)    Name the RSO and their Training Experience

Name your RSO and what training classes and experience they have. Their training should include an approved Gauge Safety Certification training ( An APNGA membership includes Gauge Safety Certification, HAZMAT, RSO and Annual Refresher training). The RSO should also have practical gauge field training. All APNGA training is accepted nationwide except for some Agreement States which are currently evaluating the program. It will be noted which states have not yet approved the APNGA Gauge Safety Class. Keep training records on file.

Remember, the RSO should have full senior management backing and is responsible for stopping unsafe licensed activities, assuring proper gauge use and maintenance, providing training, incident response and investigation, ensuring gauge security and controlled storage, a disposal plan, adhering to HAZMAT gauge transport requirements, complete and accurate recordkeeping, conducting annual audits and communicating and interacting with regulatory agencies.

Training must be completed before the license is issued.

Your response to Item #7 should be:
The name of the RSO is …

“Before obtaining licensed materials, the proposed RSO will have successfully completed adequate training as described in the NUREG 1556, Volume 1 Guide. Future RSO’s will likewise complete this training”.

8)    Training for Individuals Working In or Frequenting Restricted Areas

Individuals working with gauges should also have training similar to the RSO.

Individuals working with gauges, also known as “authorized” users are responsible for ensuring surveillance, proper use, security and routine maintenance of gauges.

Your response to Item #8 should read:

“Before using licensed materials (gauges), authorized users will have successfully completed training as described in NUREG 1556, Volume 1”.

Keep all training records on file.

9)    Facilities and Equipment

Item #9 requires you to have pre-determined that your storage area will comply to public dose limits and that you are providing sufficient security and control over the gauges. These issues should have been calculated and covered in your Radiation Safety Program under “Public Dose” and “Operating and Emergency Procedures”.

No formal response is required for Item #9. When you submit your application you are acknowledging that you determined and complied with Public Dose and Operating and Emergency Procedures requirements.

10)    Radiation Safety Program

Although there is no response required on your application to Item #10 this is the most involved application requirement. You must establish and maintain an effective Radiation Safety Program.

View the “Radiation Safety Program” section and use examples in preparing your radiation safety plan. Your regulatory agency has examples and guides for your plan – view their website.

When you submit your application you are acknowledging that you have established and completed your radiation safety program.

Your radiation safety program, and annual audits of your plan, will be reviewed during an inspection.

11)    Waste Management – Gauge Disposal and Transfer

There is no response required regarding gauge disposal or transfer but you must be familiar with the methods of doing so.

When you submit your application you are acknowledging that you are familiar with disposal and transfer methods and options. Make sure you always check beforehand that the gauge recipient is authorized to take possession of your gauge type. Keep all disposal and transfer records on file.

12)    License Fees

Enclose the appropriate license application fee. See 10 CFR 170, section 170.31 for a list of fees.

13)    Certification

The individual signing the application must be authorized to make binding commitments and to sign official documents on behalf of the applicant.