Can One Radio Do Amateur And GMRS?

Is There A Single Radio That Can Do Amateur Radio And GMRS?

This is kind of a trick question.  Technically, there are radios capable of doing this.  And you can buy these radios today.  The inherent problem though is that these radios violate the United States Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 47 and FCC Rules and Regulations for Amateur Radio and General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) radios to include Family Radio Service (FRS) and Multi Use Radio Service (MURS).

Amateur Radio GMRS

Baofeng UV-5R Pre-2021

Actually, a few years ago there were radios being imported into the United States that were capable of VHF/UHF, FRS, GMRS, and MURS.

If you bought the venerable Baofeng UV-5R prior to 2021 you had all these capabilities.   In 2021 the FCC started disallowing the importation of radios that didn’t meet newly written regulations.

Subsequently, I bought several of these things when I first got my FCC License and still have them all.   The UV-5R’s prior to 2021 were the magic radios that did it all.

Rules And Regulations

Amateur Radio

The rules regarding Amateur Radio are not the sticking point.   Amateur Radio regs are found in 47 CFR, Chapter 1, Sub-Chapter D, Part 97.   You can quite literally build your own radio.


Conversely, this is where it gets interesting.   We’ll start this story with Family Radio Service (FRS).   FRS radios require NO LICENSE.  Anyone can go into the big box stores and buy blister packs of radios.  These are FRS radios.  They have specific low power requirements.  Additionally, the antenna cannot be removable.  There are 22 FRS Channels.  Additionally, there are  22 GMRS channels, which share the exact same frequencies as FRS.  (GMRS has 30 channels total) .  And yet you cannot buy a single radio that does FRS and GMRS.


GMRS allows for higher output power and removable antennas. Which explains the separation of GMRS and FRS.

Accordingly, GMRS regs are located in 47 CFR, Chapter 1, Sub-Chapter D, Part 95, Subpart E.

These are the rules that are really driving the requirement which prevents one radio from doing it all. 

Finally, let’s take a look at those specific rules:

GMRS Transmitter Certification

§ 95.1761 GMRS transmitter certification. (link to regulation)

(a) Each GMRS transmitter (a transmitter that operates or is intended to operate in the GMRS) must be certified in accordance with this subpart and part 2 of this chapter.

(b) A grant of equipment certification for the GMRS will not be issued for any GMRS transmitter type that fails to comply with the applicable rules in this subpart.

(c) No GMRS transmitter will be certified for use in the GMRS if it is equipped with a frequency capability not listed in § 95.1763, unless such transmitter is also certified for use in another radio service for which the frequency is authorized and for which certification is also required. No GMRS transmitter will be certified for use in the GMRS if it is equipped with the capabilities to operate in services that do not require equipment certification, such as the Amateur Radio Service. All frequency determining circuitry (including crystals) and programming controls in each GMRS transmitter must be internal to the transmitter and must not be accessible from the exterior of the transmitter operating panel or from the exterior of the transmitter enclosure.

(d) Effective December 27, 2017, the Commission will no longer issue a grant of equipment authorization for hand-held portable unit transmitter types under both this subpart (GMRS) and subpart B of this part (FRS).

(e) Effective December 27, 2017, the Commission will no longer issue a grant of equipment authorization under this subpart (GMRS) for hand-held portable units if such units meet the requirements to be certified under subpart B of this part (FRS).

Almost assuredly written by lawyers, for lawyers.

GMRS Channels

§ 95.1763 GMRS channels (link to regulation)

The GMRS is allotted 30 channels—16 main channels and 14 interstitial channels. GMRS stations may transmit on any of the channels as indicated below.  It should be noted that I chopped the text from parts (a) – (d) below.  

(a) 462 MHz main channels.

(b) 462 MHz interstitial channels.

(c) 467 MHz main channels.

(d) 467 MHz interstitial channels.

So what we have here is a failure to communicate.  I’ve been trying to figure out how to work that sentence in this blog.  The GMRS regulations specifically separate them from working on anything but GMRS only transmitters.  No MURS, no FRS, no Amateur Radio.

Non-Compliant Radios

I’m not 100% sure about when the FCC started enforcement regarding this compliance but I think it was around October 2021.  GMRS and FRS radios were separated on Sep 30, 2019.

I own a couple of Baofeng UV-5R’s and one seems to have been purchased prior to the required import compliance.  The other one has an FCC ID number.

If you look up the FCC ID number found on the sticker under the battery the specs state the following frequency range.

Frequency range: Rx:136MHz-174MHz / 200-260MHz/400MHz-480MHz
Tx:144MHz-148MHz / 222MHz-225MHz / 420MHz-450MHz

The other radio has no FCC ID and the frequency range on the label indicates:

Frequency: 136-173.975MHz,  200-259.975MHz,  400-519.975MHz

Tale of Two Baofeng’s (click pic to enlarge)

The radio on the left encompasses the GMRS frequencies and has no FCC ID number.  The radio on the right has an FCC ID number but the manual only says it is FCC Part 15 compliant.

Neither radio is FCC Part 95 complaint and neither should be used for GMRS frequencies.  Even though the radio on the left has the frequency range to cover GMRS.

My greater point here is that there have been lots of radios with expanded frequency range sold in the US prior to the rule changes.

Should You Transmit on GMRS On An Unlocked Radio?

No.  CFR 47, Chapter 1, Sub-Chapter D, Part 95.337 states it is a big no-no.

§ 95.337 Operation of impermissibly modified equipment prohibited.

No person shall modify any Personal Radio Service transmitter in a way that changes or affects the technical functioning of that transmitter such that operation of the modified transmitter results in a violation of the rules in this part. This includes any modification to provide for additional transmit frequencies, increased modulation level, a different form of modulation, or increased transmitter output power (either mean power or peak envelope power or both). Any such modification voids the certified status of the modified transmitter and renders it unauthorized for use in the Personal Radio Services. Also, no person shall operate any Personal Radio Service transmitter that has been so modified.

I’d say that is pretty clear.

But I’m also going to say this.  Take it any way you want.  These are analog radios.  If you modify an HT to transmit on GMRS, the only way anyone will know is if you tell them.

Does that make it right?  Nope.  Should you do it.  Almost probably not.  Are there people doing it?  You bet your bottom dollar there are.   Watch when every new radio hits the sales floor.  Reddit and Facebook and other radio forums will instantly see this question posed:  “What is the unlock code or procedure for this radio”.  I’m right.  And you know I’m right.

A growing number of users want hackable radios and actively seek them out and openly share unlocking information.  Most of these radios have software locks although some can be modified via hardware modifications.

FCC Representatives

If you have an amateur radio license or a GMRS license the FCC can request to inspect your equipment.   And essentially, you have to let them.  I would imagine if you didn’t they’d probably revoke your license.   To be honest though I don’t see much, if any evidence of this going on.  That doesn’t give you Carte Blanche to break the rules though.

John’s Tech Blog Take On This Mess

You can literally buy a brand new GMRS HT for a little less than $30.  Probably less at a Ham Fest.   It is simply not worth it to hack a radio.  All of the HT’s put out around 5 watts or so and the base stations put out 50 watts max.   A $30, 5 watt radio will talk as far as a $200, 5 watt GMRS radio.

Picture this.  You have a house full of food.  You visit Patriot websites.  Lastly, you own guns.  Running GMRS on an unlocked radio or running Amateur radio on an unlocked GMRS radio is a way for the Feds to stick their foot in your door.

I don’t say that from a paranoid stance.  I’m just stating the facts as per the regulations.  And I’m stating potential consequences of violating those regulations.   Just go buy the stupid $30 GMRS radio and live a worry free life!

Wrap Up

There are lots of radios that can be unlocked.  I’m not listing any here.  They are easy enough to find.   Do i wish there were radios that could do MURS, FRS, GMRS and VHF and UHF?  You bet I wish there was ONE that did.   I should rephrase that to say, I wish there was one which did it LEGALLY.

Be a responsible radio operator.


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