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Using Radios outside the UK

Aaron Ward
01 August 2015

Licensing radios for use outside the UK

  • PMR446 radios can be used accross most of Europe without a licence but not in the USA.
  • Licensed radios require a licence from each and every country in which they will be used. In some countries the penalty for failure to obtain a licence is severe and speedily applied.

In most countries worldwide, most kinds of wireless or radio transmitting devices require licensing with the local radio licensing authority. There are exceptions for example Bluetooth, Wifi etc but these system are usually fairly short range devices compared to two-way radio systems which potentially can cover huge areas and could create interference to other users.

Outside the UK radio systems fall into two categories like they do in the UK.

  • Licence-free (PMR446) radios can be used across most countries in Europe without notifying the licensing authorities. Compared to licensed radios PMR446 radios do have some restrictions as to their capabilities which limits them only to use in Back-to-Back Systems systems.

  • PMR 446 Radios cannot be used safely outside Europe, particularly not in the USA which has its own similar but incompatible FRS licence-free radio system.

  • Licensed radios (any radio not marked as PMR446 should be considered a licensed radio) can only be used with a licence issued by the country in which they will be used. There is no centrally co-ordinated way of applying for these licences so applications need to be made on a country-by-country basis. This takes weeks and can be very expensive in many countries. This makes the use of licensed radios while travelling impractical in most situations.

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