The short answer is: You won't... at least unless you ask for one.  

The FCC used to automatically send out paper licenses,  but have stopped that practice.  While you don't need a paper copy from the FCC's point of view, it really is a good idea to have one handy.  The FCC's ULS license manager ( gives you 3 options for obtaining a paper license.

  1.  You can download an PDF (Adobe Acrobat) version of your license that you can print out yourself.
      Click on Download Electronic Authorizations
  2. Request that the FCC send you a paper version of your license by clicking on "Request Duplicate"
  3. Request that the FCC send you a paper version whenever the license is updated - such as an upgrade or change of address -
    Click on "Set Paper Authorization Preferences"


You can also print out a reference copy of your license by searching for your call sign in the FCC database (see “How do I check my license status online?” ). On the page that lists your license information, click “Reference Copy” to download an Adobe Acrobat version of your license. This version is similar to the electronic authorization you can download from the ULS License Manager, but
has “Reference Copy” screened across the license.