What are the Walkie Talkie Channels You Should Not Use?

Just like knowing the walkie-talkie channels to use, it is vital to understand the walkie-talkie channels not to use. This is a concern most beginners have in mind. Given the hefty fines, anybody would want to avoid the illegal channels.

You might be thinking why should you avoid a few channels. Some walkie-talkie devices operate at high transmission power, which requires an FCC permit. Operating on channels outside the law can land you in legal trouble. This is why it is imperative to know the details of the walkie-talkie channels you should not use.

Although radio devices work just about anywhere, you need to ensure you’re using them legally. Every government has different rules regarding radio devices, channels, and power for public use. The FCC has set these regulations to minimize interference on essential emergency channels, such as those used by the police, relief operators, navy, and more. Therefore, it’s best to avoid transmitting on such frequencies.

FCC Regulations

The Federal Communications Commission, FCC, is a central agency in the US responsible for regulating radio, TV, satellite, and cable communications. Since the radio spectrum is restricted in length, all radio operators must fit into the limited space. Therefore, the regulations ensure even spacing out of all users. It also helps minimize interference. For this reason, walkie-talkie manufacturers must get approval of their circuit plans, along with certifications. Furthermore, most transmissions devices have different transmission protocols.

Most modern walkie-talkies operate on either Family Radio Service (FRS) or General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) channels. The former primarily enables short-range communications for friends and family. Since FRS devices mainly offer non-commercial use, these do not require a license. GMRS, on the other hand, is popularly used by repeaters. Since GMRS talkies operate at higher power, these require an FCC permit. Hence, before purchasing a device, you must first determine if it’s an FRS or GMRS handset. You’ll also find devices that use both FRS and GMRS frequencies. The FCC permit costs USD 70 and lasts about ten years. And, operating outside of the law on the GMRS channels can get you fined up to USD 20,000. Additionally, it is illegal to use FRS/GMRS radios in the UK or Europe.

If you’re thinking, how can the FCC catch you? The answer is the FCC uses a triangulation technique. The observers monitor places where interference occurs and can find out someone’s location.

PMR446 (UK/EU)

PMR446 is an EU radio standard for license-free, public use. These devices must not have a power output greater than 500 mW. Therefore, all manufacturers must comply with these rules. Keep in mind; PMR446 walkie-talkies are not approved for usage in the USA and Canada. It is also not advisable to program a PMR446 radio to work on FRS/GMRS frequencies or vice versa.

Walkie Talkie channels Not to Use

The walkie-talkie channels you can use and can not use are defined by the two-way radio you own. Most walkie-talkies feature channels 1 through 22 for FRS and GMRS. If you’re an FRS operator, you can only use channels up to 15. Channels 15-22 are for GMRS users and require a license. Therefore, if you’re operating license-free, only use channels 1-15 to avoid facing penalties. 

It is also legal to “scan” a police walkie-talkie frequency. It enables users to listen to the law enforcement process. But, FCC forbids unauthorized usage on official frequencies. The Police Radio System’s central computer can identify and flag any interfering signal. Moreover, the TDoA geolocation technique will also report your exact location.

Unlicensed radios

The cheaper, unlicensed radios are not intended for commercial use. Since these devices have limited power output and range capabilities, they’re safe to use. You do not have to worry about going outside the law. But some professional two-way radios operate on Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS) and GMRS and require licensing. The same applies to HAM, as well.


Whenever you use a walkie-talkie, don’t run it in illegal channels. Ignoring the FCC requirement about walkie-talkie channels and not complying with the rules can land you in legal trouble. You can face $20,000 in fines and even imprisonment! Compared to the license fee, $70, operating unlicensed is not worth the risk. If you don’t want to deal with any legal trouble, it’s best to purchase FCC-compliant devices. Since the FCC license lasts about 10-years, you can get the license and operate tension-free.

Avoid transmitting on high-power channels that require a permit. Keep in mind; it is the user’s responsibility to check the laws and regulations of the intended country of use.