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Why Do I Need a GMRS License & How Do I Get It?

I found this information on the MidlandUSA website and it was helpful to me.

The FCC requires a GMRS license as a way to regulate frequencies that are used by two-way radio devices. Before operating a GMRS radio, a consumer must have a valid license. Any radio using the shared FRS/GMRS frequencies that is able to transmit above 2 Watts of power was reclassified as GMRS only after the recent FCC Changes in September 2017.

We know the FCC website is a confusing place, so we are here to help demystify the GMRS licensing process. Fair warning, this might be dry but it is important information! Stick with us!

Top GMRS License Take-a-Ways

• Applicant must be 18+
• Not a representative of a foreign government
• Only available to individuals, aka no new business GMRS license (there are some that are grandfathered in, but that’s a different story circa 1987)
• No test, just payment; $70 and good for 10 years
• License covers you and your immediate family (husband, wife, kids, grandparents, uncles, you get the point!)
• If you have been convicted of a felony in the past, you will need to disclose more information as to the context of the charges (this does not mean you will automatically denied)
• And finally, follow the rules set forth by the FCC

Wait, What are the FCC Rules?

• If an authorized FCC representative request to inspect a GMRS station (This means anything GMRS; handheld, mobile unit, base units, etc), the operator must make the station and any station records available
• No messages in connection with any activity which is against Federal, State, or local law
• No false or deceptive messages
• No coded messages with hidden meanings (“10 codes” are permissible – CB users, you know what we mean but for those of you scratching your head check this link for a 10 Code List)
• No music, whistling, sound effects or material to amuse or entertain
• No ads or offers for the sale of goods or services
• No ads for political candidate or political campaign
• No international distress signals (like Mayday) unless in a vehicle in immediate danger
• No communicating with stations in the Amateur Radio Service, any unauthorized station, or to any foreign station
• No continuous or uninterrupted transmissions (unless communications have to do with the immediate safety of life or property)
• No messages for public address systems
• Must identify using FCC-assigned call sign at the end of transmissions and at periodic intervals during transmissions

That’s A Lot of Rules, Why do I Want GMRS Again?

Increased Power – Compatibility to FRS Radios – Repeater Capable – Low Cost

So, How do I Apply?

Online! Go to the FCC Website by following the information listed under “Filing Instructions” below. https://wireless2.fcc.gov/UlsEntry/licManager/login.jsp

Remember: you must register for a FRN as a Domestic Individual. This allows you to do business (ie. pay) the FCC. Once you receive your FRN, which typically happens moments after submitting the form, you are able to fill out the online application and purchase your GMRS license. Information directly from the FCC below.

Let’s get started!!


New General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) Filing Instructions

Per Public Notice DA 15-72, the FCC no longer mails license authorizations. If you provide an email address on your application, an official copy of your license will be automatically emailed to you after the application has granted.

Steps to Filing an Application for a new GMRS Station license in the Universal Licensing System (ULS):

1. Go to https://wireless2.fcc.gov/UlsEntry/licManager/login.jsp and log in with your FCC Registration Number (FRN) and password. After entering your password, proceed to Step 2 below to begin filing the application.

If you do not have an FRN, you can register for one here: https://apps.fcc.gov/coresWeb/publicHome.do or by clicking the “Register with the FCC” link under the Submit button on the Log In page.

NOTE: You will be prompted to register and verify a username account prior to obtaining your FRN.

If you do not know your FRN, you can search for it by entering your call sign here:
http://wireless2.fcc.gov/UlsApp/UlsSearch/searchLicense.jsp or by clicking the “Check your licenses” link under the submit button on the Log In page.

If you do not know the password:
• Click on the Contact Tech Support link under the Submit button on the Log In page.
• On the next page, click the link and follow the prompts for resetting the password.
• After receiving confirmation of a successful password reset, click the link for Universal Licensing System (DO NOT click the CORES Public Interface link.)
• Click the yellow ULS License Manager button to return to the Log In page.
• Enter the FRN and password and click the Submit button.

2. On the left side of the page, click the Apply for a New License link.

3. Choose “ZA – General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS)” from the radio service drop down list.

4. Click Continue to navigate through the application.

5. On the Summary page, review your application and click the Continue to Certify button to continue.

6. On the Certification page, sign your application by typing your name in the boxes provided and click the Submit button. (The Title box is optional.)

7. ULS will calculate the fees. Fees for online filing MUST be received within 10 calendar days of the filing.

8. Click the Continue For Payment Options button to choose the method of payment.

Further information can be found on General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) on the FCC website.

The GMRS license rules are found in Part 95, Subpart A of the Code of Federal Regulations. The rules are available at the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations website.

Downloading Authorizations in ULS

After your application has been granted, you may also download an official copy of your license from the License Manager by following the steps below:

1. Go to https://wireless2.fcc.gov/UlsEntry/licManager/login.jsp and log in with your FCC Registration Number (FRN) and password.

2. Click the “Download Electronic Authorizations” link on the navigation bar on the left side of the License Manager home page.

3. In the My Authorizations box at the bottom of the page, select the call sign(s) you wish to download.

4. Add the call signs to the Authorizations to Download box by clicking the Add button.

5. Click the Download button in the lower right-hand corner of the page.

The download will be automatically converted to a PDF file, and you can choose to Open (to print) or Save (to save to a desired folder).

If you have any further questions on a GMRS license or need additional information, please submit a help request online to the FCC Licensing Support Center or call (877) 480-3201.

FCC Licensing Support Center
8:00 AM – 6:00 PM EST, M – F
I looked at the MicroMobile on the midland website, they offer some higher power units that could have better transmission than traditional CB radios, but are they really better?
I would say they are a large step above CB for many reasons. My preferred mode of communication is VHF on the 2-meter amateur band, but I do have a GMRS license and a few radios. They both have their place. First off, understand that a ham radio is created with the Amateur Radio enthusiast in mind, i.e. they are not "Fire and Forget" like a CB is; there are added features and capabilities with that in mind. As such, the market truly has diverse offerings, but they all will require programming to some degree. A GMRS radio is pretty much "set it and forget it" much like a CB radio is with the biggest operating difference being that you can set "privacy" tones and codes on them. There are also GMRS repeaters out there, but they are not nearly as prolific as ham radio repeaters and most are privately owned vice club-owned like ham repeaters.

Another thing to look at is antenna height and ground plane. The antenna height is directly proportionate to the frequency of the signal. This is why a quarter wave antenna for CB is 8.5 feet and GMRS is .5 feet. You also need that much ground plane on each side of the quarter wave antenna which is one reason why Cb work kinda screwy. Also, water intrusion into the cable is a very common problem with a lot of CB installs I have seen.

As far as sound quality is concerned, GMRS is on FM, CB is on AM. Flip your car radio from an FM station to an AM station and you will get the idea.

Range on GMRS, I did a side by side test with a friend comparing the range of 2m Ham VHF compared to 70cm Ham UHF (70cm is close to GMRS in frequency and their propagation is nearly identical). When I say side by side test, both of our ham radios have dual radios in them. The test was literally done under identical conditions simultaneously with VHF on one side and UHF on the other side with the same equipment. The topography was mixed suburban and interstate with rolling hills and a few deep valleys in Augusta. We managed 8 miles reliably on VHF and 5 miles on UHF.
So do they have GMRS handheld radios? It sounds like rather than trying to get everyone in the club to take the exam, that these GMRS radios would be a better option and they could just buy the license.
The license-free hand helds are limited to 2 watts on channels 1-7 and 15-22 while channels 8-14 are limited to 0.5 watts. They will only get a mile of range at best.

Also, GMRS does not require an exam, just a $70 fee for ten years per family. Amateur Radio requires the exam and the fee is up to $15 per individual for 10 years. On a side note, the FCC does not collect the fee for Amateur licenses, rather the (501C) club that administers the exam keeps the fee.
Here is a good video explaining GMRS a bit more.

Here is another video that does a damn fine job of explaining the differences between CB, GMRS/FRS and Amatuer and how it relates to Jeep use.
Here is a review that I was reading about some of the Midland radios I was looking at. Tripp, can you decode this. How can we avoid these problems.

.0 out of 5 starsMisleading and gimmicky product designed to sell and not work well.
July 3, 2017
Style: Pair Pack - Black/SilverVerified Purchase
This is a misleading and poorly engineered product. Allow me to explain.


If you are looking for the legal way to communicate with more or less decent range you have very few options.

1. FRS does not require a license but is limited to 500mA (as of today; FCC is implementing changes to allow up to 2W of power on all current FRS channels, including those shared with GMRS).
2. MURS - it's VHF, also unlicensed, with 2W power limit. There are very few MURS certified radios on the market and VHF may present other issues with range.
3. GMRS. You need to get a license from FCC for the modest fee and then you can transmit up to 50 watts on simplex and repeater GMRS channels. You also need GMRS type-approved radio to use these channels legally.

So it seems GMRS is the obvious way to go. Here where the problem begins.

There are very few high power (>4W) handheld GMRS approved handheld radios on the market (and none that support repeater frequencies). There were a few high quality commercial Part 90 radios that were also certified for 95a (GMRS) but those are discontinued long time ago.

The product in question is one of the few ones that produces honest 5 watts - confirmed on FCC web site by looking up FCC ID and relevant lab measurement reports.

Sounds great on paper. So after much research and digging through FCC filings and test data I bough it.

My experience.
1. Setup of the privacy codes on the first 22 channels is simple enough. What are the rest of the advertised 50 channels there is no description, but you can find discussion online: Apparently these are the same frequencies (have to be - there are only so many GMRS/FRS frequencies allocated) with pre-set privacy codes. No word about what codes and what frequencies in the user manual. It's a gimmick feature to show "more channels" than the competitors and likely those will work with other Midland radios out of the box. I don't like such marketing stunts - but whatever. Not a big deal.

2. Receiver is very noisy. Much noisier than my other commercial handheld's one. This will limit useful range by raising noise floor. Not good.

3. Radio seems to indeed transmit 5 watts with fairly decent range (comparable with that of my other real part 90 5W transceiver). But only when using included battery pack. This is crucial "but" never mentioned anywhere.

The battery pack is 5 NiMH AAA rechargeables sealed together. (Note - 5, not 4). Unfortunately the capacity of the pack is 700mAh and according to my measurements the radio consumes average of 42 mA in standby with display off. This makes it only last for 16 hours if you don't transmit (it lasted only 8 hours in my test). Not much at all. What makes it worse - charge time is 12 hours (charging current was well under 150mA). And no, you cannot charge (spare) battery pack while using the other one - it must be charged while in the radio. What's even worse - they include automotive charger in the box - implying that you can quickly recharge the units while driving. Who is driving for 12 hour straight!? This is absolutely useless and misleading feature. So in the current form the radio is unusable for a long backpacking trips - unless you buy charge and bring extra battery packs - 2 per radio per day.

4. But wait you say - you can power the radio with AA batteries!. Yep. Sort of. You can put 4 (not five) AA batteries. And this would of course provide radio with less voltage. Perhaps they engineered it well to properly work on a range of input voltages?
Nope. Using AA batteries (or AA NiMH rechargeables) reduces output power to about 2.0 - 2.5 watts. There is no indication of that happening (except the reduced range, and current consumption - which I measured) - the display still shows "H" for high power. And it is not mentioned anywhere in the documentation (or I overlooked the fine print somewhere). This way you get very log battery life - you can find AA batteries with capacities well over 2000mAh - but now the feature you bough the units for and that is advertised in huge letters - 5W output -- does not apply anymore. You got noisy, weak set of walkie-talkies.

So, to summarize:

1. Unusable battery life - you either use battery pack with very short life and get your 5W transmit power or use batteries and get 2W.
2. Noisy receiver - limits range by increasing noise floor.
3. Unacceptably long charging time - 12 hours. Included car adapter is therefore useless and is pure gimmick feature.
4. Bogus channels 28 channels (after official 22 FRS+GMRS ones) with unknown frequencies or programming that cannot be changed. Another gimmick.

I'm very unhappy with this product. It feels it was made to sell well rather than to work well.

I reached out to Midland with questions but they did not respond to me.
more info to dig through -- QUOTED:

I have several of the Baofeng UV-82... Amazon.com : Baofeng UV-82 (Black) Two-Way Radio : Frs Two Way Radios : Car Electronics

They're a bit better, IMHO, than the UV5s. I also got the USB programming cable and use a free PC app called CHIRP to program them to use whatever VHF or UHF frequency I want. This is infinitely easier than programming them through their keyboard, which is a genuine PITA.

I use them for HAM, FRS, GMRS, MURS, and Marine.... Works great for all the above and they put out a full 5 watts..... This antenna makes a huge difference: http://www.amazon.com/Authentic-NA-7...ZF1HRCG08E1GRB

I do have a HAM license from way back when you had to build a radio before you could use it..... Truth of the matter today is that unless you're being some sort of nuisance and enough people report you to the FCC, noone cares.... specially in the GMRS and MURS spectrums. Yes, these radios are technically not legal for anything but HAM... but again, noone cares. These archaic regs were made to keep poorly built radios for bleeding all over the band... Modern software-driven radios don't do that. When dealing with modern gear, there is no way anyone, including the FCC, can tell the difference by listening between a type-accepted radio and one, such as the Baofeng, that isn't.

My advice: buy whatever you want and do whatever you want as long as you're not being a jerk on the air. Noone cares. Get a HAM license if you have the time and/or inclination-- its a fun learning process and pretty easy since they dropped morse code. Or not. The GMRS license is a waste of money. The FCC has all but conceded this point... noone gets one and noone cares.

For your specific needs, I would get some UV82s and hook them up to the GMRS repeaters. I have a CHIRP file I can send you that has every useful frequency you could possibly want -- 101 channels in total covering all the "pertinent" bands such as FRS, GMRS, MURS, Marine, Weather, etc which will give you maximum flexibility...... It literally takes seconds to download it to the radio via the USB cable. This will cover everything but CB which is AM and therefore requires different hardware.
I think my takeaway from this is we want to make sure that we get a GMRS license and then we need to ensure that our radios are capable of using the 5W channels 1-7. This would give us more than twice the power of the FRS radios and keep us legal.


My question is, should we go to the BaoFeng UV-5R or UV-82 style radios and be marginally FCC incompliant? or choose standard FRS/GMRS hand helds?
My apologies to Bill Collins, my phone died shortly after I responded to his first message.

Anyway, the Midland radios are Part 95 certified meaning they are compliant with FCC regs for GMRS radios. The Baofeng UV-5Rs are FCC Part 90 certified. Programming a Part 90 certified radio for use on GMRS is a very common and accepted practice, hence Tripp's post above with the used Kenwoods available on e-bay.

What "I" would do, and I only speak for myself, is if I had my choices narrowed down to either a Midland hand-held or a UV-5R, I would pick the UV-5R. They are not the highest quality radio, but really no less than the Midland hand-helds. Also, the UV-5Rs have a very wide range of accessories such as:
Battery eliminators to plug into your cig plug https://www.amazon.com/Original-Battery-Eliminator-Charger-BAOFENG/dp/B00DGW6ODG , speaker microphones https://www.amazon.com/BaoFeng-Genu...&qid=1555436675&s=wireless&sr=1-1-spons&psc=1
Higher capacity batteries https://www.amazon.com/Replacement-...y&qid=1555436713&s=gateway&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1
Also, you can upgrade the antenna https://www.amazon.com/Authentic-NA...uv-5r+antenna&qid=1555436754&s=gateway&sr=8-3 and even hook it up to an external antenna whereas the Midlands you are restricted to fixed antennas.

The UV-5R can also be programmed with repeater offsets.

Another alternative is Midland makes mobile mount GMRS units too. https://midlandusa.com/product-category/micromobile/ if you do not wish to buy a used Kenwood and program it. They make a Hand Held Control Mic model that my Mother-in-Law owns that would be perfect for a Jeep. https://midlandusa.com/product/mxt275-micromobile-two-way-radio/