Are Walkie-Talkies Illegal? Sometimes…

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  • No, walkie talkies aren’t illegal, except if you don’t have a license to operate a General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) radio
  • GMRS is a licensed radio service that operates on channels around 462 MHz and 467 MHz (check out the best walkie talkies– our picks!)
  • In extreme circumstances, sometimes walkie talkies become illegal- like during government conflicts when the State tries to limit communication
  • An example is during this Myanmar coup

Walkie-talkies are hand-held portable transceivers with an inbuilt speaker and a microphone and a mounted antenna at the top.

These walkie-talkies resemble a telephone handset held to the face to talk- check out these video chat walkie talkies if you want to see the person you’re talking to!

Therefore to many people, it may sound farcical for someone to be arrested on a criminal charge of possession of an unlicensed walkie-talkie and jailed for more than two years or fined up to $15000.

To them, a walkie-talkie is simply a two-way hand-held communicator. Of course, this scenario is natural in most Middle East countries which leads us to ask, are walkie-talkies illegal?

You may find the answer to this question confusing because of the varying laws between various countries. Governments across the globe have put up individual regulations that govern the use of walkie-talkies.

This is typical to ensure that official walkie-talkies, for instance, those used by the police, army, railways, and emergency services, do not suffer any form of interference from walkie-talkies used by the general public.

These regulations have divided the types of walkie-talkies into two categories: licensed walkie-talkies and free-lance walkie-talkies.

The difference between the licensed and unlicenced is that for the licensed walkie-talkies, one needs to obtain an operating license from authoritative departments, whereas for the unlicensed walkie-talkies, there isn’t any need for government permission; therefore, there is no need to purchase any license.

How to differentiate legal from illegal walkie-talkies

There is only one way to determine if the walkie-talkie you’re using is legal or not illegal. You need to look at the labels. If your walkie-talkie is labeled GMRS (General Mobile Radio), then yes, you certainly require a license, whereas, for those labeled FRS (Family Radio Service), you don’t need one. Quick aside- learn how to fix a walkie talkie with these troubleshooting tips!

What’s the difference between GMRS and FRS?

In terms of technology, there is no significant difference between the two. The FRS is designed for use by the general public; therefore, it has a lower power between the GMRS frequencies. They can only use those antennas attached to them.

On the other hand, the GMRS is designed with an output power of 50W, and their antennas can be attached to a tower or a house, thus extending their range.

Most of those walkie-talkies indicate whether you’re broadcasting on FRS or GMRS; therefore, pay attention when selecting which channel to use. The GMRS are not walkie talkies for kids.

How much does it cost to obtain a license for your GMRS walkie-talkie?

FCC issues the GMRS license to an individual for a ten-year period which costs around $70. This license automatically extends to the holder’s family members and authorizes them to use the licensed system.

It’s vital to note that those licenses can be renewed 90 days before their expiry date. If, in any case, it expires, the license holder is expected to request a new GMRS license.

Are the GMRS and FRS private?

The walkie-talkies have a system that is meant to encrypt your data instantly.

With the use of data encryption and secure channels, you can securely program them for use in your band channels and business organization without fear of leaks and interference from other free-range radios- check out the best long range walkie talkies.

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