What is General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS)

GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) is a us land-mobile uhf radio service available for short distance 2-way communications to support the activities of adult individuals who possess a GMRS license, as well as their close family members, including children, parents, spouse, grandparents, uncles, nephews, aunts in-laws and nieces. Close loved ones of the GMRS licensee are allowed to communicate themselves during recreational group outings, like hiking or camping or over the area of their residence.

Typically, GMRS radios are hand-held portable devices more like FRS (Family Radio Service) radios, and also share some frequencies. Base station-style and mobile radios are also available as well, but they are usually commercial UHF radios commonly used in the commercial land and public service mobile bands. As long as they are GMRS approved, they are legal for use in this service. They tend to be more expensive compared to the walkie talkies commonly found in discount electronic outlets, but are of a higher quality.

Other countries also have personal radio services with fairly similar characteristics, but operating conditions and technical details vary according to national laws.

GMRS Background

The General Mobile Radio Service is available to a single individual for short distance 2-way communications to support the activities of licensees together with their close family members. Each person manages a system that consists of one or more transmitting stations (units). GMRS rules limit eligibility for new system licenses to other persons in order to ensure the service is only available to individual users. However, some previously licensed non-personal systems are permitted to continue using the GMRS service.

Six years ago, the FCC planned to remove the personal licensing requirement for General Mobile Radio Service and in its place license GMRS by rule’ (meaning that a personal license wouldn’t be needed to operate GMRS). However, the proposal is still waiting to be reviewed.


In order to operate a GMRS system, an FCC license is needed. Licenses are given out for a 5-year term and may be renewed between 90-days before to the expiry date and up to the exact license expiration date. Once a GMRS license expires, a person must request for a new license.

GMRS systems that were licensed to non-individuals before July 31, 1987 are also eligible for renewal; however, the licensees may not make any huge modification to their systems.

One can apply for GMRS license if they are 18 years of age or older and not a representatives of foreign governments. As long as you have received your GMRS license, any family member, in spite of their age, can operate GMRS units and stations within the licensed system.

GMRS channels are 23 in number and each of them is 25 kilohertz.

GMRS Operation

A GMRS system is made up of a mobile station, station operators, and sometimes one or more land-stations. A small base-station has an antenna and no more than 20-feet above the tree or above ground on which it’s mounted and transmits and no more than 5W ERP. Use of some GMRS channels is restricted to specific types of stations.

None of these channels are designated for the sole use of any systems. You must liaise in the selection and use the channels in order to get the most effective use of each and every one of them and to minimize the possibility of any interference.

You can anticipate a communications range of 5 to 25 miles. You can’t directly connect your telephone network with a GMRS station.

Usually, you together with your family members would easily communicate among yourselves directly or via repeater stations. The station should be within the territorial limit of the fifty US, the Caribbean, Pacific Insular and the District of Columbia areas.

Mobile stations from a GMRS system can communicate via a mobile relay station in another system with the permit of its licensees in transient use. The communication may also be with a mobile station from another GMRS system also with permit from the licensees to communicate via the mobile relay stations.

GMRS Use in Other Countries

Radio transmitters’ use is regulated by international and national agreements. Often, the radio equipment that is accepted for use in a given part of the world might not be operated in other parts because of conflicts with technical standards and frequency assignments. Some of the roles that a licensed GMRS service fills here in the US are, in other nations, filled by class-licensed or unlicensed services. Other countries have unlicensed and licensed individual radio services with fairly similar characteristics, but operating conditions and technical details vary according to national rules.