By: Jeremy Neisser
There are seven frequencies that can be used without an FCC license. This means that you do not have to pass a test, pay any or minimal fees, or be assigned by the FCC.
The frequencies that can be used without a license are:
1.) 902 to 928 MHz (33cm Amateur Band)
2.) 2400 to 2483 MHz (13 cm Amateur Band)
3.) 535 to 539 kHz (600 Meter band - Ham Radio, CB and other services sharing the same frequencies)
4.) 5460.5 to 5470.5 kHz (40 meter band - USB, LSB, CW etc.)
5.) 5650 to 5725 kHz (80 meter band - USB, LSB, CW etc.
6.) 7.100 to 7.300 MHz (80 meter band)
7.) 14.000 to 14.350 MHz (20 meter band)8.) 21.000 to 21
In the United States, two-way radios in businesses can only operate on frequencies in the following service bands.
The 9 Types of Radios That Do Not Require A License
Business Radio Service (BRS)
Land Mobile Radios (LMR)
General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS)
Family Radio Service (FRS)
Multi Use Radio Service (MURS)
Ham Radio Service (Also known as Amateur)
Citizen Band Radio Service (CB Radio)
Business Radio Service (BRS)
BRS: Business Radio Service is one of the two types of business band radio services in USA (FCC Part 90). It was created back in 1999.
With BRC service, users are allowed to transmit both voice and data signals/channels.
BRS requires users to get a license to operate on this particular band.
The data speed is limited so you can't have download or upload speeds higher than 50kbps without an FCC license.
This actually makes BRS really useful for businesses that are operating in places where there isn't enough signal strength to establish communications between devices/units.
• Multiple Address - Allows you to operate on several different frequencies in the same geographical area or "pool". You need this if your business needs more than one frequency. The cost is $90 for 5 years and lets you use up to 50 watts of power.
• Site-Based Licenses - Grants the licensee the right to transmit at any point within an area determined by the FCC. This is also known as a Private Land Mobile Radio Services (PLMRS) license and costs $90 for 5 years with no wattage restrictions. To apply for this type of license, there must be at least 2 locations that will be transmitting within at least 15 miles of each other.
• Non-Site-Based Licenses - Grants the licensee the right to transmit on a single channel or frequency in an area determined by the FCC. The cost is $90 for 5 years with no wattage restrictions. You are not required to have another party in your area operating on this same channel or frequency to get this license.
To apply for any type of business radio license, you must file FCC Form 605 along with the appropriate application fee and location fee(s) depending on which license you choose. You can find out more about licenses at www.fcc.gov/licensing-forms/.
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Land Mobile Radio Service (LMR)
LMR Radios stands for land mobile radios which are used in industrial, business and other land mobile applications. Businesses today use LMR for industrial operations like manufacturing, warehousing, construction sites and more.
These radios are important to businesses because it allows them to communicate at a distance while keeping the lines of communication open at all times.
LMR Radios must be programmed with your licensed frequencies, however, at least one radio in each mobile (vehicle) unit must be capable of monitoring the frequencies assigned for business dispatch purposes. LMR frequencies are licensed by the FCC and require an annual fee paid to them.
LMR frequencies are site-specific - meaning they can only be used within a certain geographical area or "pool".
LMR Vs Business Radio- Which is Better?
In today's world, business owners need LMR radios because it has more benefits compared to general mobile radios services like GMRO/FMS or BRS.
One of the main benefits of using LMR is that it allows for longer range communication between business units or different geographical locations.
This is because you are allowed to use higher power output compared with that of GMRO/FMS or BRS radios which are limited in power output and operate under Part 95 instead of Part 90.
Another advantage of having LMR equipment over FRS & GMRO/BRS is the availability of frequencies, channels or talk groups.
With both BRS and FRS, there are only a finite number of frequencies available in each band which means you may not be able to establish communications should there be interference on other devices operating on this same frequency.
General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS)
General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) - GMRS is General Mobile Radio Service, one of the privately owned citizens band radio service allocations in the United States, provides for two-way personal communications within the frequency range allows users to transmit on four frequencies in the UHF band (462 MHz & 467 MHz) with up to 50 watts of power.
What happens if I use GMRS without a license?
GMRS requirements include passing the licensing test and having your license in possession while transmitting on these channels.
Businesses that wish to transmit at a distance of more than two miles must obtain an FCC license (a license is not required for personal use). The Annual Regulatory Fee for GMRS licenses is $85.
Generally, it takes about four weeks to receive an approved GMRS application. After receiving the application, the FCC will take 10 days to process it; this means you can expect your new GMRS license within 14 business days of applying.
GMRS requires users to be 18 years or older and have passed their exam. You cannot legally operate under GMRS rules unless you have a valid FCC License in your possession when using these frequencies.
Family Radio Service (FRS)
FRS is Family Radio Service which stands for unlicensed radios that can be used at short distances in businesses. FRS radios allow families and friends to communicate with each other when participating in outdoor activities like hiking, camping or skiing.
These radios do not require an application or license but there are limitations on power output and antenna height above ground level.
Radios that operate in both FRS and GMRS bands can be programmed to operate on either band. These radios do not require a license but there is a fee to purchase these radios.
The Family Radio Server (FRS channels that you can use are 22 channels in the 462 and 467 MHz bands without a license. If you operate FRS outside of those frequencies, you could be fined or have your device confiscated.
FRS vs GMRS - What's the Difference?
FRS- Family Radio Service - The FCC has set aside several UHF radio spectrum frequencies for short range, line-of-sight personal or business activities. FRS service was designed specifically for use with walkie-talkies and other portable two-way radios operating under the rules of the FRS.
The FRS is limited to 500 milliwatts (0.5 watts) transmit power, and simplex (one person talking at a time).
GMRS - General Mobile Radio Service - GMRS radios are typically handheld portable devices that also can be carried in vehicles as part of an integrated system including other types of radios used by businesses to coordinate work activities. They are different than unlicensed "walkie talkies" that have "repeater" capability.
GMRS radios have a 15-mile range and can cost several hundred dollars per radio - well beyond the reach of most people for personal communications.
GMRS license is required if you will transmit from fixed outdoor locations, such as your home or business, or from an automobile while stationary. A GMRS license also requires you to pay an annual regulatory fee.
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In addition to being used in homes and small offices, many FRS/GMRS combination radios are popular with outdoors enthusiasts (hunters, backpackers, campers). Many of these radios offer a weather channel receive mode that allows the user to hear NOAA broadcasts for information on local weather conditions.
These radios also allow users to transmit on the weather channel in emergencies when no other communication channels are available..
The FCC regulates radio transmissions under the UHF spectrum (462 and 467MHz) through licensing. A license is required to transmit on GMRS. The FCC does not require a license to receive radio transmissions; however, some limitations apply if you are using an FRS radio with GMRS channels.
The most important thing for people to understand is that the use of any kind of "bubble pack" type radios will compromise your legal rights in case of an accident involving other types of radios or because the person who has the commercial-type equipment may be held liable for damages because they should have had a license. If you are involved in litigation, it could jeopardize your legal defense.
You can be fined or have your equipment confiscated. If you do not know the difference between FRS and GMRS, then this is important to you!
Business Radio Service (BRS) - On the other hand, BRS is similar to FRS in terms of how signals work between radio devices and antennas used. The difference between them is that BRS licenses are issued under Part 90 instead of Part 95 which allows for longer range communications and higher power output than with FRS and GMRS frequencies.
Multi Use Radio Service (M|URS)
MURS stands for Multi Use Radio Service. It is for personal use and doesn't require an FCC license to operate it. A license is required if you want to use MURS radios for business purposes.
MURS radio can be used within 5 miles radius depending on which channel you are using (FRS, GMRS).
MURS radios can be used by individuals for communicating with other people on the same channel.
MURS allows you to have more channels compared to GMRS radios. GMRS has 23 channels while MURS has 8 (1-7, 15).
If you are operating at 5 watts of power then your range is 2 miles radius (3 miles if you use external antenna) if there are no obstacles like mountains or buildings.
Is MURS a VHF?
MURS frequencies operate in the VHF band. This is often explained as a more powerful cousin to the FRS/GMRS or UHF radio bands. It will not get you reception in buildings and bad weather like a CB radio would, but it will work well in good weather and open areas out of doors.
If someone tells you that MURS operates on 5 watts which is considered high power, they may be thinking about GMRS radios which run at 2 watts of power (FCC limit).
Which is Better: MURS vs GMRS:
Actually, both of these frequencies allow you to communicate within a specified radius. If you want a higher power range, then MURS is the better choice because you can operate it with 5 watts of output power.
If you are going to use it within 1-2 miles radius, then GMRS will be good enough for your needs.
Citizen Band Radio Service (CB)
Citizen Band - CB Radios are pre-programmed with 40 channels and operate in the 27 MHz range. These channels can be used without a license and can travel up to 40 miles.
If you want reliable communications beyond the widest open spaces, then CB radios come into play. Unlike FRS and GMRS radios that need line-of-sight to work well, CB signals can bounce off of the ionosphere (sky wave) allowing for much larger distances between stations (1 mile vs 40+).
However, without a license there are restrictions such as power output wattage and antenna height.
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Amateur Radio Service (HAM)
Amatuer Radio (also called Ham Radio Operators) - This requires a license to operate. There are three different types of ham radio operators licenses available through the FCC. Each type allows you to transmit on different bands.
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The Technician License - This license is easier to get. It only requires a written test about electronics theory and operation of radios. You can use all amateur frequencies, including 1.8 MHz through 29.6 MHz (HF), 50 MHz, 144 MHz (VHF) or 440 MHz (UHF). This allows you to use radios with up to 100 watts
The General Class License - This license is more difficult to get. You need to take a test that covers radio basics and then some other stuff too. Then you can use all the ham bands from 1.8 MHz through 29.7 MHz (HF), 50 MHz, 144 MHz (VHF) and 440 MHz (UHF). You are allowed up to 1500 watts of power.
The Amateur Extra Class License - This is the most difficult license to get. To get this, you need to pass a test with questions on amateur theory, regulations and operating practices. You can use all frequencies from 1.8 MHz through 29.7 MHz (HF), 50 MHz, 144 MHz (VHF) and 440 MHz
You can see all the details on these licenses here, through the FCC website.
AirBand Radio Service (AB)
Air band radios, also referred to as Aviation Radio Services are used for both navigation and communication in the aircraft. It operates in the VHF frequency range from 118 to 136 MHz.
An airband radio can be either a stand alone device or built into other communication devices such as a transponder, ELT (Emergency Locator Transmitter), ADS-B In receiver, etc.
Marine Radio Service (MRS)
Marine Radio - Marine Radio are designed for operating in an open water environment. It operates in the VHF frequency range between 156-174 MHz. It is similar to aircraft radio but operates mainly on channels 16 and 78.
The FCC details the specific rules for Marine Radio, one of which is that the maximum is 25 watts
There are two types of marine radios; handheld and fixed mount.
Here is an example of a fixed mount. Looks very similar to a CB radio in a truck
- Uniden's Marine Radios protect you from what lies ahead, as well as getting you out of dicey waters, by informing you the moment a storm starts brewing and transmitting your location should you need help.
- With triple watch features, DSC capabilities, a range of international marine channels and S. A. M. E Weather Alert—the UM385 brings everything you’ll need on the water into one compact design.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Why do I need an FCC GMRS license?
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) mandates that all devices using the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) in the United States need to be officially licensed prior to use. The FCC carefully regulates radio frequencies, so any individual operating a two way radio must obtain appropriate licensing first.
How do I apply for a GMRS FCC license?
To obtain a GMRS license, it is necessary to submit both FCC form 159 and 605 which can easily be located on the FCC forms page. Or if you prefer an online process, applying for a GMRS license through the FCC Universal License System (ULS) web site has never been more convenient!
What is the charge for a GMRS license?
Absolutely. The Federal Communications Commission currently requires a fee of $85 for GMRS licenses, with the exception being applications from government entities which are exempt from this cost. When approved, these permits remain valid for an impressive five years!
Is it required to get a GMRS license if I live outside of the United States?
To use the GMRS frequencies in the United States, you must obtain a FCC GMRS license.
I need a radio, but I don't want to pay for a GMRS license. What can I do?
Most GMRS radios are tuned to the FRS frequency, which can be accessed without a license. Channels 8-14 of a typical 22 channel consumer radio is allocated exclusively for usage on an FRS network, and these channels permit unlicensed use with only half watt transmit power--which will also restrict its reach.
Did you know that since September 2004, Canadians have been able to use handheld GMRS radios up to 2 watts without a license? Usually these are dual FRS and GMRS units with fixed antennas. On the FRS-only channels they can run at 0.5 watts of power, while on GMRS channels it's upped to 2 Watts - but there isn't currently any permission for mobile units (those installed in vehicles), base stations or repeaters.
Hi & Welcome!
My name is Jeremy and I have been an avid car nut for many year. My first car was an 1987 Honda CRX. I put in my first Kenwood stereo, amp, 2 10" JLs and a CB Radio in it and have been an avid user of CBs and car radios for years. I'll do my best to share my tips, information and thoughts to help you with whatever question you might have, ABOUT ME