General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) is a land-mobile UHF radio service in the United States, near 462 and 467 MHz. GMRS shares the same frequencies with the Family Radio Service (FRS), however output power is limited to 0.5 or 2 watts on FRS, depending on the channel. A license is required to operate on the GMRS band, and the licensee is allowed up to 5 or 50 watts of output power (also depending on the channel). A GMRS license also grants permission to operate on the repeater input frequencies. Both the increased output power and the repeater access granted by a GMRS license can dramatically increase the effective range a GMRS radio has over a FRS radio. Because they share the same frequencies, GMRS radios are allowed to communicate with FRS radios via simplex.
To obtain a GMRS license and call sign, you must file an application with the FCC and pay a $70 fee. No exam is required, and the license is valid for 10 years. The FCC’s Universal Licensing System (ULS) is is an online portal to manage your FCC applications/licenses, and pay any applicable fees via a single account. The ULS eliminates the need for paper applications and submitting via snail mail. You may also view the status of pending licenses in the ULS. Once registered with the ULS, you will receive an FCC Registration Number (FRN). This is a 10-digit number that is assigned to a business or individual registering with the FCC, and is used to identify the registrant’s business dealings with the FCC. Once you have this ID number – save it! This will be your user name to log in to the Universal Licensing System.
Before continuing, I want to highlight one very important consideration when dealing with FCC licenses. Your call sign and license information is public information and is easily searchable in FCC databases and other records. Should you choose to register with your home address, this will be visible to anybody if they have your call sign. Exposing personal information on the internet is a concern now more than ever, so one approach to limiting the amount of personal information in FCC databases is to use a P.O. Box as your contact address. Here is what my GMRS license information looks like when queried in the FCC database – WRAA720:
I use this P.O. Box address in the center of my local metro area as my primary contact location for all FCC forms and dealings. My actual home address is not associated with any of my FCC licenses and will not be in any FCC databases or in other databases that use FCC data such as QRZ.com.
Step 1: Create an FCC Universal Licensing System account
If you are a first time user, create a new ULS account here (skip this step if you have an existing ULS account). Select “Register” to be issued a new FCC Registration Number:
Some questions are asked before proceeding, then you can fill out an application with your name, address, password, etc:
Step 2: Log in to the ULS
After creating the account, or if you have an existing ULS account, log in here.
Once you are logged in, you will be taken to this screen which shows your current and applied for licenses:
Step 3: Begin application for a GMRS license
Now we can apply for a GMRS license and pay the fee. On the left hand side menu click “Apply for a New License.”
On the next screen, select “ZA-General Mobile Radio Service” from the very bottom of the drop down menu and click Continue.
The next step is to answer these applicant questions. Most people can leave “no” selected for each:
Click continue after these questions, and on the next screen supply the licensee name and address:
Once this is complete, click Continue. The next step is to answer the following question, then click Continue again:
The next step will show you a summary of the application. Verify all the information supplied is correct, and click “Continue to Certify.”
Step 4: Submit the application
The final step before submitting application is reading all the certification statements, which summarize the rules you are agreeing to follow as a GMRS license holder. Electronically sign the application and submit:
When you submit the application, you will be prompted to complete payment. After that, all you can do is wait! Applications will appear in ULS Application Search in about one or two businesses days after the application is filed. If you made an error in the application – don’t worry! You can file an amendment to the application. See the Applying for a New License in the Universal Licensing System FAQ for more information about the application process for FCC licenses.
I have read posts online where people have reported getting their license within a day, and I’ve read posts where people said it took three weeks, so I can’t give an accurate answer to the “how long until I receive my call sign?” question. I applied for my GMRS license around the holidays and it took two weeks to receive my call sign.
Step 5: Receive call sign and download authorization documents
Check back to the Universal Licensing System daily, and when you see the call sign under “My Licenses” you are ready to get on the air! To download or print a paper copy of the license authorization, click Download Electronic Authorizations:
Select your GMRS call sign from the “Filter by Radio Service” box and add it to the “Authorizations to Download” box then click Download:
The GMRS Authorization looks like this: