Why Do I Need a General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) License?

(Courtesy, MidlandUSA.com)

The FCC requires a GMRS license as a way to regulate frequencies that are used by two-way radio devices. Before operating a GMRS radio, a consumer must have a valid license. Any radio using the shared FRS/GMRS frequencies that is able to transmit above 2 Watts of power was reclassified as GMRS only after the recent FCC Changes in September 2017.

We know the FCC website is a confusing place, so we are here to help demystify the GMRS licensing process. Fair warning, this might be dry but it is important information! Stick with us!

Top GMRS License Takeaways

  • Applicant must be 18+
  • Not a representative of a foreign government
  • Only available to individuals, aka no new business GMRS license (there are some that are grandfathered in, but that’s a different story circa 1987)
  • No test, just payment; $35 and good for 10 years
  • The license covers you and your immediate family (spouse, children, grandchildren, stepchildren, parents, grandparents, stepparents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and in-laws). They do not need to live in the same household to be covered by your GMRS License.
  • If you have been convicted of a felony in the past, you will need to disclose more information as to the context of the charges (this does not mean you will automatically denied)
  • And finally, follow the rules set forth by the FCC

Wait, What Are The FCC Rules?

  • If an authorized FCC representative request to inspect a GMRS station (This means anything GMRS; handheld, mobile unit, base units, etc), the operator must make the station and any station records available
  • No messages in connection with any activity which is against Federal, State, or local law
  • No false or deceptive messages
  • No coded messages with hidden meanings (“10 codes” are permissible – CB users, you know what we mean but for those of you scratching your head check this link for a 10 Code List)
  • No music, whistling, sound effects or material to amuse or entertain
  • No ads or offers for the sale of goods or services
  • No ads for political candidates or political campaigns
  • No international distress signals (like Mayday) unless in a vehicle in immediate danger
  • No communicating with stations in the Amateur Radio Service, any unauthorized station, or to any foreign station
  • No continuous or uninterrupted transmissions (unless communications have to do with the immediate safety of life or property)
  • No messages for public address systems
  • Must identify using your FCC-assigned call sign at the end of transmissions and at 15-minute intervals during transmissions

That’s A Lot Of Rules, Why Do I Want GMRS Again?

Increased Power, up to 50 Watts and Use of Repeaters = more range – Compatibility with FRS Radios – Low Cost

What's the Difference Between GMRS and FRS Radios?

Unlike the FRS (Family Radio Service) Band, which many people use with cheap, throw-away blister-pack radios with fixed antennas and very low power limits (0.5 Watts ~ 2 Watts), GMRS allows external antennas and up 5 Watts of power for handheld “HT” or “Walkie-Talkie” radios, and up to 50 Watts for mobile and base station radios. GMRS Radios can also use "repeaters," greatly increasing your potential operating range. All of this makes GMRS radio a better choice for serious recreational or emergency communications than FRS.

Are GMRS radios compatible with CB?

GMRS (and FRS) radios use FM transmission in the UHF radio band. Because they operate at a much higher frequency than CB (approximately 462 megahertz, compared with 27 megahertz for CB), they can't communicate with CB radios.

So, How Do I Apply For a GMRS License?

Go Here for Step-by-step instructions: Getting Your GMRS License

NOTE: Neighborhood Radio Watch Programs ARE NOT a replacement for Emergency Services such as Police, Fire, the Sheriff's Office or 911. These programs are intended solely as a backup communications solution When All Else Fails.

The El Dorado County Amateur Radio Club is a "not-for-profit," all-volunteer Community Service organization. Members are not reimbursed for their Membership or for services provided to the Community. All of the Community Radio equipment we furnish is provided at or below our out-of-pocket costs, and our general support services are offered free of charge. Radio acquisition, programming, and training workshops provided by our Club Members are free of charge. If people need help installing their equipment at home, unpaid Volunteer assistance may be available. Donations to the Club to sustain our efforts are gratefully accepted but are not required nor expected.

Alan Thompson, Public Information Officer
The El Dorado County Amateur Radio Club
Phone: 530-417-1451