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Getting a GMRS License

Why Get a GMRS License?

The General Mobile Radio Service (“GMRS”) is a radio service allocated by the FCC and readily made available to the general public. It permits individuals and their families the use of higher power radios, approved radios include both consumer-end radios as well as professional grade commercial radios, and resultantly can provide excellent point-to-point two way radio communications over long range.

Sharing the same frequencies as the Family Radio Service (FRS), a GMRS license is required when operating a radio above 2 watts of power, and permits up to 50 watts of power. GMRS licenses are also able to utilize repeater stations, which can dramatically expand the coverage area and range of a radio, reliably into the tens and occasionally hundreds of miles depending on the repeater – this is in contrast of usually a few miles between direct radio contact. Some repeaters can also be linked together, permitting communication between regional and nationwide areas.

A GMRS license costs $70, and requires only submitting a relatively simple application to the FCC – there is no exam of any sort. The license is valid for 10 years, and covers you and your entire family; it includes your spouse, kids, grand-kids, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews… and then duplicate that on your in-law’s side (if you’re married, that is). That’s a lot of users for a relatively small fee. A GMRS license will let you legally utilize GMRS radios. You must be 18 or older to apply for a license, but once obtained, the license extends to any family under the age of 18; yes, minors are legally allowed to use the service.

Radio Equipment

Many are familiar with the consumer end GMRS ‘blister-pack’ radios that you can get at your major retailers. These include brands such as the Motorola Talkabout, Midland MXT & GXT series, and similar radios which can be found at Costco, Walmart, Cabela’s, Amazon, or a plethora of other places. These work okay for short-range direct contact, but are generally not repeater capable. Having a GMRS license will let you access repeaters, so we strongly recommend running repeater-capable radios. Repeater capable consumer-oriented radios are relatively inexpensive and include the Midland MXT115, MXT275, and MXT400, B-Tech GMRS-V1 and GMRS-50X1, Wouxun KG-805G, KG-905G and KG-1000G, Retevis RT76P.

Having a GMRS license will also let you use commercial grade radio equipment if it is Part 95A or 95E certified. Some great radios in this market include the Kenwood TK-880(H) and TK-8180(H) radios – these all carry Part 95 certification making them legal for GMRS use. Commercial radios are also generally military spec certified for shock, dust and vibration, have great receivers, and are generally very well made. They’re perfect for commuters, off-roaders, and for those that just happen to think radios are fun and enjoy tinkering with them. These models can be procured inexpensively used from eBay and similar places, or brand new from two-way radio vendors. Just keep in mind that programming is required to get these to work right.

How to Get a GMRS License

There are a number of great guides available online to walk you through the process, please check out the following Reddit post which will walk you through the steps in detail: