The General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) is a two-way radio service designated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for personal use in the United States and other territories under FCC jurisdiction.
A valid GMRS license issued by the FCC is required to operate on the channels that comprise GMRS. While low-end consumer-grade radios are often labeled as "FRS/GMRS" radios, these are actually different radio services and have separate rules despite their similarities. These differences are covered below.
GMRS is currently restricted to individuals and their immediate family members for personal use, however businesses may utilize GMRS if: a. they currently hold a valid grandfathered license which originally granted permission to operate as a business; or b. each user of the radio system holds their own individual GMRS license.
Any individual in the United States who is at least 18 years old and not a representative of a foreign government may apply for a GMRS license by completing an application with the FCC and paying the license fee, which is currently $90.00 for a 5-year term. An exam is not required to obtain a GMRS license.
A valid GMRS license issued by the FCC is required to transmit on any GMRS channel. In cases where channels are shared between GMRS and the license-free FRS, a license is not required if you are operating under the limitations of the FRS rules.
For example, if you were to use Channel 1 (462.5625 MHz) with a radio that does not have a detachable antenna and you transmit with 0.5 Watts or less of ERP (Effective Radiated Power), you do not need a license. However, if you transmit with a power level above 0.5W ERP, you would then require a GMRS license since you are no longer operating within the FRS rules.
Below is a simplified table highlighting the key differences between these radio services:
|FCC Part 95 Rule||Subpart A||Subpart B||Subpart J||Subpart D|
|Frequency Range (MHz)||462 - 467462.550 - 462.725,
467.550 - 467.725
|462 - 467462.550 - 462.725,
467.550 - 467.725
|151 - 154151.820 - 151.940,
154.570 - 154.600
|26 - 2726.965 - 27.405|
|Number of Channels||23
(7 shared with FRS,
8 as repeater inputs)
(7 shared with GMRS)
|Power Limit||50W TPO||0.5W ERP||2W TPO||4W (AM)
12W PEP (SSB)
|Channel||Frequency (MHz)||Service||Repeater Use|
Line A. An imaginary line within the U.S., approximately paralleling the U.S.-Canadian border, north of which Commission coordination with the Canadian authorities in the assignment of frequencies is generally required. It begins at Aberdeen, Washington, running by great circle arc to the intersection of 48° N., 120° W., then along parallel 48° N., to the intersection of 95° W., thence by great circle arc through the southernmost point of Duluth, Minnesota, thence by great circle arc to 45° N., 85° W., thence southward along meridian 85° W. to its intersection with parallel 41° N., to its intersection with meridian 82° W., thence by great circle arc through the southernmost point of Bangor, Maine, thence by great circle arc through the southernmost of Searsport, Maine, at which point it terminates.
Line C. An imaginary line in Alaska approximately paralleling the border with Canada, East of which Commission coordination with Canadian authorities in the assignment of frequencies is generally required. It begins at the intersection of 70° N., 144° W., thence by great circle arc to the intersection of 60° N., 143° W., thence by great circle arc so as to include all the Alaskan Panhandle.