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Which FRS and GMRS radios are license free?

In May 2017 the FCC ruled on Part 95 reform. Starting today, September 28, 2017 the new rules are now in effect. There were many changes, but here's the big one. Consumer FRS/GMRS two way radios 2 watts or less are now considered FRS radios and are license free!

Technically speaking, the radios are now licensed by rule, which means that you are no longer required to apply for a GMRS license from the FCC to use these lower powered models with 22 channels, even on those previously considered the 8 GMRS frequencies. The simple act of purchasing the radios gives you a license to use them on all 22 channels.

Since most of the models, particularly those sold in retail 2-packs or "bubble packs" do not include actual power ratings or wattage on the packaging or the product marketing spec sheets, only one question remains. Which FRS/GMRS radios are within the 2 watt power limit and are now considered FRS?

The truth is, most of the FRS/GMRS combo radios currently on the market are under 2 watts and follow the new rules as FRS only radios. In addition to the wattage requirement, any models that are capable of operating on GMRS repeater frequencies are considered GMRS radios and require a GMRS license to operate. Only two handheld models currently available are repeater capable and fall squarely in the category of GMRS.

Rather than creating a long list of radios that do fall under the Family Radio Service (FRS), perhaps the easiest thing to do is list the models that don't, and are now considered GMRS only. It's a short list.

GMRS Handheld Two Way Radios

Make Model Power
Cobra CXR925 2.8W No
Cobra MR-HH450 DUAL 2.24W (GMRS)
6.2W (Marine)
Midland GXT1000VP4 3.07W (high power) No
Midland GXT1050VP4 3.07W (high power) No
Motorola MR355R 1.32W Yes
Olympia R500 .973W Yes

We will continue to update this list as models are introduced. Bookmark this page or subscribe to our blog for the latest information.

10 thoughts on “Which FRS and GMRS radios are license free?”

  • Rick

    It depends which version of radio you are talking about. Earlier versions of the GXT1000 did operate at 5 watts on high power. Later versions operate at the wattage listed in the chart. Since we no longer carry the older version, the power rating on the chart only lists the rating of the current version.

    To find the actual tested power rating of a radio, go to FCC ID Search and enter the FCC ID of the radio in the search form.

  • Rick

    While the radio may certainly operate at 2 watts or under, according to the FCC, it is officially classified as a GMRS radio if it is capable of operating above 2 watts.

  • The Midland service rep stated that low power was.5 watts, medium 2.0 watts and high power 5.0 watts.

  • I called MidlandUSA and the told me that it can be operated on the medium power setting of 2 watts. Tell me this is true.

  • Rick

    Jason, the GXT2000 was rated at 2.6 watts, which puts it in the GMRS category.

  • Jason D Dickerson
    Jason D Dickerson June 18, 2018 at 4:55 am

    Which category does the Midland gxt2000vp4 fall under?

  • Rick

    The "extra" channels on the GXT1000 are simply FRS/GMRS frequencies with pre-programmed interference eliminator codes, so Channel 40 would be the same as GMRS channel 20. You can find the complete list of all the extra Midland channels above channel 22 and what FRS/GMRS frequencies are assigned to them in the following article. How Midland's "Extra Channels" Work (Updated!).
    As already stated in the article above, whether or not you need a license depends on the wattage of the radio you are using. The Midland GXT1000VP4 is on the list as a GMRS radio, so you will need a GMRS license to use it in the US on channels 1-7 and 15-22.

  • Long Nguyen

    Hi, I'm not radio expert. I bought Midland GXT1000VP4 for emergency events (natural disaster) or camping purpose. So do I need to register for GMRS license to use CH1-7 or CH15-22?
    Some channels are shared FRS/GMRS. Let's say CH40, and it's not in the range of 1-7 or 15-22. Is it still GMRS and needs license?
    I thought I bought a package of 2 radios and I don't need any license to operate.

  • larz

    what are the watts output power levels for these radios on channels 1-7
    pdf's only show LOW MED HIGH no wattage amounts.
    Olympia R100
    Motorola T200
    COBRA CXR725
    UNIDEN GMR 3050-2C

  • Keith Wilson

    Which new FRS radios use the full 2 watt power now available with the new 2017 rules change?


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