Part of owning a walkie-talkie is knowing if the specific type you have is legal in the country you’re in. This allows you to pick the radio you need assuringly, knowing that you won’t get in trouble with the law.
In other words, before checking out some of the best Bluetooth walkie talkies reviewed, make sure you’re allowed to use them in your part of the world. Whether or not a particular radio will work in your neck of the woods typically isn’t a concern; chances are, it will. Instead, what you need to concern yourself with are the laws that surround walkie-talkie usage.
Today, we’ll talk about some regulations on radio use, most of which involve how specific types of radios should be used legally.
The Legal Use of Radios Around the World
Depending on where you live, governments may have specified the types of handheld transceivers that the general public can purchase and use legally for specific purposes. We know you’re itching to get your hands on that two-way radio to make distance communication more accessible. Before you do, let’s first find out if you’re even allowed to use them in your home nation.
The United Kingdom
The United Kingdom abides by the PMR446, which is the European Union standard for two-way radio use. The 446 stands for the 446 MHz frequency of all its eight channels, all of which have a two-mile maximum range in open country.
Radios classified under PMR446 are not allowed to have transmission power greater than 500mW, making all models hold the same max range. The Lynx PT400, Entel HX446L, Kirisun PT558, and Cobra radios comply with the PMR446 European standard. However, they aren’t approved for use in Canada or the United States.
Additionally, the voltage range in Europe is 230 to 240. Therefore, the 120V American chargers won’t likely do these radios any good.
The USA follows either the FRS or GMRS standard for their consumer radios, which are sold in almost all US states. Both have a combined 14 to 22 channels across frequencies, ranging from 462 MHz to 467 MHz. These radios aren’t allowed to connect with their European PMR446 counterparts and are illegal to use in Europe.
Besides, mains voltage in Canada and the US is at 120v. As such, you could have problems using US-conforming radios in Europe and the United Kingdom, given their 240-voltage requirement. EU voltage could literally blow up those 120V American chargers. Therefore, it’s not just your legal freedom you’re risking but also your life when you attempt this unlawful move.
Lawfully speaking, a combined European-American walkie-talkie does not exist. That’s because usage of either one is restricted to either America or Europe. There’s also the fact that intercontinental transmission would imply transmission of illegal frequencies, which could get you in trouble in either location.
An EU PMR446 cannot be modified to meet the FRS-GMRS American standard and vice versa. However, a non-PMR446 radio is another story, as their frequencies can usually be altered to meet the US standard.
The Rest of the World
As far as the rest of the globe is concerned, individual regulations still apply regarding the types of radios that can be used legally. That means it’s up to the prospective buyer to go over the rules governing radio use for their specific country.
For instance, the Middle East can be especially strict about their radio usage policies, including what types of radios can be brought within their borders. Failure to comply with their rules could result in radios being confiscated by customs personnel.
Meanwhile, the rest of Europe doesn’t seem to be too worried about the kinds of radios that make it to their land. Of course, rule-stickler Switzerland is the exception to this, and for good reason.
Can You Use a Two-Way Radio While Driving?
Yes, you may use a handheld transceiver while driving, provided that it doesn’t interfere with the activity in any way. That said, there are stipulations attached to that answer. Basically, a two-way radio user should be aware of the following:
- Using two-way radios for the purpose of sending and receiving voice messages is considered an offense.
- Using these transceivers in frequencies other than those within the 880 MHz to 2170 MHz ranges is also considered unlawful.
- Operating within the 27 MHz band is also considered illegal for two-way radios used for driving. That’s because these frequency bands are meant to be used as government communication channels and not general public ones.
So, Is It Illegal To Use a Walkie-Talkie?
Ultimately, that would depend on the walkie-talkie, your purpose, and the country you’re using it in. Buying a two-way radio means researching how to use it legally where you’re at. After all, the last thing you want is to get in trouble for communicating illegally without even knowing. Not only would this be irresponsible, but it would also be embarrassing.