Reply To: Radio Q&A

  • Farm-Ranch-Homestead

    March 1, 2024 at 8:50 am

    Do I need a license?

    Basically, if you intend to transmit on any radio, the answer to this question is yes. In some cases, your “license” is automatically granted, but with GMRS and Amateur radio, you must apply for a license and obtain a callsign from the FCC before you can legally use those services. You must be appropriately licensed for each service on which you will be transmitting. No license is required to receive only.

    Some services are known as “License by Rule” which means that your license is automatically granted by an FCC rule, and you do not need to do anything to allow you to use those services. Services which fall into the category of License by Rule are CB, FRS, and MURS. It is not necessary to apply for a license for these services, so they can be used by anyone except those specifically prohibited from doing so.

    GMRS and Amateur Radio Service are not “License by Rule” services, so you must take specific actions in order to obtain a license to use those services. In the case of GMRS, you must file an application and pay a fee to obtain a license. In the case of Amateur Radio, you must take and pass an exam, file an application, and pay a fee to obtain a license.

    For GMRS, you can complete the licensing requirements online at the FCC website. Before applying, you must register on the website to obtain an FCC Registration Number (FRN). Once you obtain an FRN, you can then submit your application for a GMRS license online, and submit the necessary payment for the application. A GMRS license covers the licensee and, in many circumstances, many of the licensee’s family members, thus one license may cover an entire family.

    For Amateur Radio, you may need to follow the same steps as required for GMRS, but you will also need to take and pass the Amateur Radio exam(s) for the level of license for which you will be applying. This process is regularly managed through local Amateur radio clubs, which should be easy to find online. You may take more than one exam on the same day. For example, on the day you take the Technician exam, and provided you pass, you may then take the General exam. If you pass that as well, you may take the Amateur Extra exam. You may apply for the level of license that coincides with the highest level exam you successfully pass. The examiner should be able to assist you with completing the licensing process.

    Navigating the FCC website is somewhat difficult, as it doesn’t clearly show you the steps to take to obtain the license(s) you seek. I believe the license application is processed through the Universal Licensing System, which can be found at

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 3 weeks ago by  Farm-Ranch-Homestead. Reason: removed errant link