GMRS Radios & Frequencies

GMRS has become the illusive service that some know about, some are curious about and some know nothing about. No matter where you fall, be careful of being too sure about what you know as much has recently changed with this service.

GMRS has become the best kept secret in communications because it is like a HAM – Commercial hybrid. GMRS is for people to use at a personal level. It is not for businesses, however unlike the amateur service which is also for personal use, it’s not an “earned license”. So you don’t have to take some test and know a bunch of stuff to get a GMRS license. You simply need to answer some qualifying questions like if you are a US Citizen and pay the fee. The fee is between $60-$100 traditionally. Currently it is $70 This license is good for 10 years. So even at $100, which it has never been that high, it’s only $10 a year. The license covers your immediate family. Immediate family members are the licensee’s spouse, children, grandchildren, stepchildren, parents, grandparents, stepparents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and in-laws.

GMRS is in the UHF band and therefore is good for close communications even inside a multistory building, but you can also us a mobile radio at 50 watts to get some distant coverage. Additionally you can put up repeaters which extend your coverage.

What are they good for?

So, these are licensed frequencies, so they aren’t open to just anyone. The “repeater” frequencies are allowed 50 watts and therefore you can get some good range. They are great for short distance communications, but remember there is no such thing as privacy on the radio waves and even more so on these shared frequencies. Don’t be fooled by the term “privacy codes”. We will have another article on that which I will later link.

So here are some suggestions:

  • Camping
  • Fishing
  • Shopping Trips with family
  • Fairs & Theme Parks
  • Neighborhood Communications
  • Long distance communications for families and friends through a repeater

The misleading stuff:

The big thing with these radios is that at one time, you could buy a “blister pack” radio just about anywhere that was a GMRS/FRS radio. These can no longer be sold because GMRS is allowed much more power than FRS and GMRS CAN NO LONGER BE OPERATED WITHOUT A LICENSE. This is the key. Anyone who tells you different is probably operating under the assumption the old rules are still in place, WHICH THEY ARE NOT. You now must have a license, but it opens up a world to you of communications.

There are still some combined channels with FRS. While FRS users unlicensed to use GMRS can’t use a GMRS frequency, you can still use theirs. However, when on a shared FRS frequency your power level is not allowed to be at GRMS levels. There is a chart below which shows permitted power levels.

Rule Changes

GMRS is governed by title 47 of the Code of Federal Regulations, specifically part 95. If you have heard radios guys talk you have no doubt heard of part 97. Likely you have also heard of part 90. Part 97 deals with the Amateur Radio Service and Part 90 is what is called Private Land Mobile or the Commercial and Public Safety Pool. The part most guys know nothing about is part 95, this covers the Personal Radio Services. Part 95 includes CB, FRS, GMRS, MURS, and a few others which aren’t really relevant to our discussions.

FULL Rules can be read here. I warn you, it’s lengthy and in legal terminology.

  • The FCC changed the rules in 2017 for certain services, GMRS included. Most were beneficial to users. One of the big changes was the maximum permitted power level has been increased.
  • The other big change that was made and just went into effect as of Oct. 2019 was that GMRS and FRS can no longer be produced in the same radios.
  • GMRS is not licensed to business and they shouldn’t be using it UNLESS, they have a grandfathered license. According to the FCC, there are VERY few of these left as they are non-transferable.
  • Now GMRS can use short data messaging applications including text messaging and GPS location information.
  • Antenna limitations have been taken away.

Technical Facts:

License Required: Personal, 10 Years, Covers Immediate Family Members, $70

Useage: Personal Only

Maximum Power: 50 Watts (less on some frequencies)

Antenna Specs: Must only meet requirements for menaces to air navigation (lights over certain heights, etc)

Encryption Permitted: No

Repeaters Permitted: Yes

Band: UHF

Modulation: Wide FM (5 kilohertz max deviation, 20 kilohertz spacing)

Radios MUST be certified by the FCC, however most have speculated that a radio which is part 90 certified meets and exceed part 95 requirements so most commercial UHF radios should be permissible.

Frequencies:

FrequencyFRS
Channel
FRS PowerFRS
Bandwidth
GMRS PowerGMRS
Bandwidth
Notes
462.5625 MHz12 W12.5 kHz5 W20 kHz(1)(4)(5)
462.5875 MHz22 W12.5 kHz5 W20 kHz(1)(4)(5)
462.6125 MHz32 W12.5 kHz5 W20 kHz(1)(4)(5)
462.6375 MHz42 W12.5 kHz5 W20 kHz(1)(4)(5)
462.6625 MHz52 W12.5 kHz5 W20 kHz(1)(4)(5)
462.6875 MHz62 W12.5 kHz5 W20 kHz(1)(4)(5)
462.7125 MHz72 W12.5 kHz5 W20 kHz(1)(4)(5)
467.5625 MHz80.5 W12.5 kHz0.5 W12.5 kHz(1)(4)(6)
467.5875 MHz90.5 W12.5 kHz0.5 W12.5 kHz(1)(4)(6)
467.6125 MHz100.5 W12.5 kHz0.5 W12.5 kHz(1)(4)(6)
467.6375 MHz110.5 W12.5 kHz0.5 W12.5 kHz(1)(4)(6)
467.6625 MHz120.5 W12.5 kHz0.5 W12.5 kHz(1)(4)(6)
467.6875 MHz130.5 W12.5 kHz0.5 W12.5 kHz(1)(4)(6)
467.7125 MHz140.5 W12.5 kHz0.5 W12.5 kHz(1)(4)(6)
462.5500 MHz152 W12.5 kHz50 W20 kHz(2)(5)
462.5750 MHz162 W12.5 kHz50 W20 kHz(2)(5)
462.6000 MHz172 W12.5 kHz50 W20 kHz(2)(5)
462.6250 MHz182 W12.5 kHz50 W20 kHz(2)(5)
462.6500 MHz192 W12.5 kHz50 W20 kHz(2)(5)
462.6750 MHz202 W12.5 kHz50 W20 kHz(2)(5)
462.7000 MHz212 W12.5 kHz50 W20 kHz(2)(5)
462.7250 MHz222 W12.5 kHz50 W20 kHz(2)(5)
467.5500 MHzN/AN/AN/A50 W20 kHz(3)(5)
467.5750 MHzN/AN/AN/A50 W20 kHz(3)(5)
467.6000 MHzN/AN/AN/A50 W20 kHz(3)(5)
467.6250 MHzN/AN/AN/A50 W20 kHz(3)(5)
467.6500 MHzN/AN/AN/A50 W20 kHz(3)(5)
467.6750 MHzN/AN/AN/A50 W20 kHz(3)(5)
467.7000 MHzN/AN/AN/A50 W20 kHz(3)(5)
467.7250 MHzN/AN/AN/A50 W20 kHz(3)(5)
Table Notes
(1) Shared FRS and GMRS simplex.
(2) Shared FRS and GMRS simplex; GMRS repeater output.
(3) GMRS repeater input.
(4) FRS transmissions are limited to bandwidth of 11 kHz with a transmitter deviation of +/- 2.5 kHz. Channels are on 12.5 kHz centers.
(5) GMRS transmissions may have a bandwidth of 16 kHz with a transmitter deviation of +/- 5.0 kHz. Channels are on 25 kHz centers.
(6) GMRS transmissions are limited to a bandwidth of 11 kHz with a transmitter deviation of +/- 2.5 kHz. Channels are on 12.5 kHz centers.