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FCC eliminates GMRS regulatory fee

The FCC has eliminated the regulatory fee required to obtain a license for the GMRS.

In a Report and Order released May 21, 2015 as part of the FCC's notice of proposed regulatory fees for fiscal year 2015, the commission issued a Report and Order to eliminate the regulatory fee for the General Mobile Radio Service effective this year.

The fee, which was previously assessed at $5 per year, added $25 to the total cost of a GMRS license, which has a term of five years. While it does not eliminate the cost of a license altogether, the complete elimination of the regulatory fee brings the total cost of a General Mobile Radio Service license from $90 down to $65.

According to the FCC, the fee simply wasn't worth the cost. in the Report and Order, the commission stated:

"After analyzing the costs of processing fee payments for GMRS, we conclude that the
Commission's cost of collecting and processing this fee exceeds the payment amount of $25. Our costs have increased over time and now that the costs exceed the amount of the regulatory fee, the increased relative administrative cost supports eliminating this regulatory fee category."

The GMRS license required two fees, the application fee and the FCC regulatory fee. The total cost of a GMRS license has risen through the years, mostly due to automatic, scheduled increases in the application fee. In 2014 the total cost of a GMRS license rose again, from $85 to $90. The cost of a GMRS license is currently greater than the cost of most higher end GMRS radios for which the license is required to operate, and more than double the cost of an entry level radio.

The disproportionately high cost of GMRS licensing compared to other types of radio service licenses and to the GMRS radio equipment itself has been a growing complaint among GMRS users, and is a primary reason why many who are aware of the license requirement do not purchase one.

The FCC, acknowledging the problem, gave it as another reason to remove the fee. "Once eliminated, these licensees will no longer be financially burdened with such payments and the Commission will no longer incur these administrative costs that exceed the fee payments.", the commission added in the report.

This is not the first time the FCC has considered the costs and caveats of licensing the GMRS. In 2010, the commission proposed to do away with the requirement for individual licensing altogether and instead license by rule. However, backlash from the community of licensed GMRS users helped stall the decision and as the FCC has since noted on their web site, "the proposal is still pending".

Is the elimination of the GMRS regulatory fee the beginning of the end of the individual GMRS license requirement? If not, will the application fee remain and continue to rise automatically on its own until it even surpasses the previous $90 fee?

Tell us what you think. Enter your comments below.

84 thoughts on “FCC eliminates GMRS regulatory fee”

  • Holly

    Bubble pack frs radios are kids toys. You are lucky if you get a mile in the city, much less out in the open. I understand that a license is needed for gmrs, but why so much? Ham license is from my understanding half of the price for the good radios that's listed. Frs radios eat up more batteries in the time that you use it, than my cell phone does all day. Licensing should be a bit tougher than the way it is set up now for gmrs. Ham license should be a bit easier to get. What is the purpose of knowing the operation of a satellite in space for any way? Getting a ham radio license application, should be easier too comprehend when it comes to the math associated with the operation of a radio. The way I see it ham licenses should not have half of the math or satellite information related to it. 99% of all satellites that are used, is well over 2 ghz any way. Hams are in the 140-150mhz and 435-448mhz. What's the sense of knowing that? Getting back to gmrs. If licenses are so easy to get now, wouldn't you think that in a few more years gmrs would be swamped like CB radio? My boyfriend gave up CB twenty eight years ago, because of every channel was swamped with radio chatter.

    • Rick

      Hi Holly, to be fair, while a GMRS license may be somewhat pricier than it probably should be, it does cover an individual and his or her immediate family, and it's a ten year license. When you break down the cost for, say, a family of four plus relatives who also qualify, the cost is actually quite minimal. Even if it's one person, a ten year license at the current rate is a cost of about $7.50 a year. A fishing license for one year usually costs more than that in most states.

      As for the cost of a ham radio license, it actually doesn't have a set amount and it isn't set by the FCC. It's charged by the group that does the testing, and it basically only covers the cost of taking the test, which varies from about $10-$15. A ham license is valid for 10 years and renewal is free.

      The reason the ham tests are required is because amateur (ham) radio is intended for hobby and experimental use. What this means is that a ham is allowed and authorized by the FCC to build, test and operate his or her own radio equipment. There are some important things to know before one jumps in to do any experimentation on the airwaves. At the very least, it can cause interference or disruption to others across the radio spectrum, and at worst it can be harmful or extremely dangerous. Would you want someone to get a driver license without learning how to drive a car through a busy town or down a freeway at 70 miles an hour? Same idea.

      Also, satellite operation in ham radio is just one aspect of the hobby. There are many other facets to it that don't involve satellite communications at all, but long distance propagation instead, simply by using specific atmospheric conditions and a home made antenna to bounce the signal around the world. These require some training to understand how to utilize them.

      Getting back to GMRS, it's a service for those who have a specific need for it. For the rest, there is FRS. The FRS radios are usually what you referred to as bubble pack radios, and although they are sometimes used by kids, they are also used by many adults for a myriad of activities including camping, hiking, hunting, sports, school and church operations, neighborhood watches, and even bird watching! Many businesses use FRS radios as well, for everything from hotel management to retail, restaurant and jobsite maintenance operations. With the recent pandemic, FRS radios are also used for curbside service and stay-at-home or quarantine situations.

      Everything has a place, and there's a place for everything. When it comes to radios, the sky's the limit. literally.

  • Shon Edwards

    I also just went through the auto-renewal process. It cost me only $70 and was good for 10 years. Can't complain. The last renewal was for $80 or $90 and was only good for 5 years.

  • Not Ajit

    Why have licensing? Because repeater operators don't want THEIR (not yours, they PAY for YOU to use it) machines being inundated with jammers and miscreants. Its bad enough right now. Eliminate licensing the dam has broken and flood everyone downstream.

    Why pay for your license and not have digital privileges and operate analog? Because you are paying a FEE to not learn rules and pass a TEST like HAM's do. - Truth!

    Want to talk between cars on a trip? Kids playing around in the hood? Get FRS radios!

    Want to be license free and fee free? Go get a CB radio, MURS or FRS, work simplex!

    - Issue solved. Your welcome.

  • DuWayne Moore
    DuWayne Moore May 10, 2019 at 6:29 am

    Funny Trish, you blame a man elected in 2016 and took office in 2017 for something that happened in 2015, look at the date of this article.

  • Trish

    What a waste, another agency that is supposed to help the public that doesn't!!!! They should not have their jobs. Another thing Trump messed up?

  • Trish

    I have been surprised by how rude and unprofessional most FCC employees are. They try to talk over me all the time. I got so fed up with the last grumpy FCC gal I was talking to that I asked for a supervisor. Of course I got a recording. I left a message and of course No Callback. Now I can't even get through to anyone at the FCC. I get a recording that says " No one can help me at this time " and then disconects the call. Typical government Bull.

  • Patrick Miller
    Patrick Miller March 14, 2019 at 8:29 pm

    Yesterday I got my registration number for the FCC and then filled out the paper work online for my license. I purchased a pair of Midland GTX1000. License cost me $70. Not sure how long I have to wait to get my license.

  • sam

    I bought 3 Vertex Standard 160/180s 3 yers ago now, not realizing we needed license. We never used them but i bought new batteries for them from a shop in North Carolina and new base stations and antennas and then started trying to figure out how to get the license what license i needed ect...

    So paying a shop to do it for you would be like 400$ +. Figuring it out on my own took longer but only cost me 70$ at the end of the day. The PDF application is so confusing, my advise, just do it all online, FCC auto guides you to the parts of the app that relate to GMRS . So i didn't get to pick my call sign, oh well, I don't know i would have ever figured out that paper app. I got my License 2 days after i submitted it all online. The stated wait time for paper apps is somewhere around 3 months or something like that.

    I got my GMRS yesterday finally. got my FRN in July and just now had the money to get the License. I would rather pay for the license and be able to use the long range part 95 walkies than use what they sell as "emergency" radios(Family radios) . They get about 100 yards in coverage in real world scenarios, and they are built like kidde toy things too not like they will actually work in a needed situation anyway. My license says it covers 10 years.

  • Jim

    The Government would charge for air if they could get away with it, Someone will have to explain it to me with paper and crayons I suppose. No license for CB 4 watts+, GMRS and FRS share the freq, but it seems to be about power. its like you have to wear a seatbelt but you don't have to wear a motorcycle helmet in some states, I mean seriously! who thinks this stuff up!

  • Bill

    There are some with more money than brains...I on the other hand take responsibility for how GRMS radios are used. The no fee is makes sense. It's an Adults responsibility to ensure they are properly used. Buying the GRMS as kids toys is simply an adult's lack of common sense use.. I have kids that were brought up on common sense and responsibility and I understand not every parent do this. But to punish the responsible people for the irresponsible ones is not fair. When will we have a final decesion?

  • Larry A Brechner

    Just did a test application for a GMRS license (I already have an FRN) and it still has a $70 fee.

  • Mel KK6TMN

    It is likely they are telling the truth. If the radio is 2 watts or less on all channels then it is now considered an FRS radio. Google "new 2017 rule changes FRS/GMRS."

  • Allen

    I just bought a set of Cobra radios. Reading instructions in the small print I see a license is required. I called cobra and was told the licensing requirement was deleted last year. However, I don't see any thing anywhere. Cobra should be cited for giving out that information.

  • Thomas

    In Texas, you can only use a wireless communication device while driving if you assess using a device that requires an FCC license. Simply put you can't use your cell phone, but a radio communication device is only an exemption if you're licensed to use it... Since I use these "bubble pack" radios to talk between friends while driving (separate vehicles), if one of gets pulled over, the fact that devices are under the use of an FCC license will allow any ticket for not using a "hands free device" to be readily dismissed.

  • Ralph KE5DXI, WQCE854
    Ralph KE5DXI, WQCE854 March 21, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    If the FCC hadn't let all these company's put GMRS freq in their FRS radios I really wouldn't mine paying for a license. I do mine when most of the traffic I hear is some kids making all kinds noise, mostly after Christmas. in the last few weeks I'm starting to hear others with a repeater but I haven't heard anyone use a call.

  • Papa

    I remember back in the 70's my old call sign from my CB.. and I remember putting a texas star watt linear in my pickup and the cobra 29 was peaked.. I NEVER worried about the fcc then and I still don't and for a set of talkies that cost me 20 bux and put out 2 watts its crazy to think I'm going to pay 90 bux for something I might use a few times a year for camping or a road trip.. the FCC has never enforced this stuff and I'll take my chances.. I have no doubts there are 1000's of people that buy these radios and never even realize they are supposed to be licensed.. the guy that sold em to me on ebay didnt mention it and the cashier at walmart didn't either. *shrugs

  • Dan

    i just renewed my gmrs and the cost was 70.00 for 10 years..i guess it's better then 95..i just paid it and went about my day..cant not pay it..then i would be on frs..lol

  • Tom

    I just received a pair of GMRS radios for Christmas to use while hinting and fishing. If FCC thinks I'm going to spend money on a license to use these radios, they are sadly mistaken.

  • You are good man! LOL......stay on em!

  • Bruce E Weight

    I feel that the FCC should do something like charge $25.00 for 5 years $50.00 for 10 years or $75.00 for a lifetime family license fee. This would discourage some but not all abusers. Probably all in all we pay so many freaking taxes that they should throw this one on the table and use the ULS System so that folks can apply and update their information up to date as necessary. My license ran out in 2008 and the radios are ??? but on family trips which is what I got them for they were handy in some instances. I would love to have them available again for travel and emergencies. My license number is still on the website and I believe can be re-activated by paying the fees again New number ?? but in any case my vote would be to remove the fees and have people required to keep their licenses and information up to date on the web site. Don't worry about those who paid their fees because even if I had just updated mine I could care less. Get over it Life is never fair just take the good things as they come and have fun. Nail the idiots with large fines and add that to help the system run.


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