Mixed FRS/GMRS radios soon illegal for sale

Our resident radio guru Phil Karras saves our bacon once again. Phil was Johnny-on-the-spot last month when he told our staff about a recent change to FCC rules. They now state:

Sales of FRS combination radios prohibited.
Effective September 30, 2019, no person shall sell or offer for sale hand-held portable radio equipment capable of operating under this subpart (FRS) and under any other licensed or licensed-by-rule radio services in this chapter (devices may be authorized under this subpart with part 15 unlicensed equipment authorizations).

What this means is that we’re going to stop selling mixed FRS/GMRS radios as of September 30, 2019. This includes our most popular seller as well as several others you’ll find at Solid Signal, unfortunately.

This new rule supersedes the rules from 2017 which allowed these mixed radios under certain circumstances.  After September 30, we won’t be able to sell radios that work with both FRS and GMRS. We’ll still be able to sell FRS radios and GMRS radios.

Which radio do I need?

In most cases you need only an FRS radio. FRS, the Family Radio Service, works at great distances and you don’t need a license for it. You would only need a GMRS radio if you had very specific needs like a longer distance transmission. GMRS, the General Marine Radio Service, requires a license to operate.

How do I know if I have one of these mixed FRS/GMRS radios?

The easiest way is to find the owners’ manual, either online or with the original packaging for the radio. The specifications should be clearly marked.

What should I do if I have one of these radios?

The change in the rules only applies to sales of new radios. You are allowed to operate these mixed FRS/GMRS radios in the same way you always have. If the transmit power is under two watts, and the transmit frequency isn’t one of these (all frequencies listed in megahertz):


then as far as we know you should be able to keep using the radio. If the transmit power is higher then you should either pursue a license or stop using the radios.

Is this a safety issue?

As far as I can see this isn’t a safety issue but a rule issue. There are only so many frequencies out there available for use and a lot of people want to use them. By changing the rules, it means people who really do need GMRS will have an easy time finding a clear channel to broadcast on.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.