Club logo.  A red circle containing a green map of the state of Virginia, the ARRL logo, and the text "Richmond Amateur Telecommunications Society, Richmond, Virginia U.S.A."

Richmond Amateur Telecommunications Society
W4RAT ยท Richmond, Virginia

An ARRL Affiliated Club Serving Central Virginia Since 1972

General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS)

GMRS is a separate radio service, not directly related to amateur (ham) radio.  It offers local FM voice communications over UHF frequencies in the 462 to 467 MHz range, including both direct radio-to-radio (simplex) operation and repeaters.  It's meant for the personal communications of the licensee and their family, though a handful of legacy business users are grandfathered in.

While an amateur radio license requires a basic technical knowledge and passage of a 35-question multiple-choice test, a GMRS license can be acquired with only the payment of a license fee, currently $35 for 10 years.  No test and no specific technical knowledge is required.

As an added bonus, a GMRS license covers the licensee and all of his/her immediate family members.  FCC Part 95, which governs GMRS operations, specifies "immediate family members are the licensee's spouse, children, grandchildren, stepchildren, parents, grandparents, stepparents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and in-laws."  One license, one call sign, a whole bunch of potential users.  Gone are the past restrictions limiting a GMRS license to immediate family within the same household.  Now, GMRS allows any qualifying family member to operate under one license regardless of location.  GMRS does not require a "control operator" (though the licensee is of course still responsible for ensuring lawful operation of all radios operating under his/her call sign).

Fun fact:  As of March 2024 over 30% of active RATS members also hold an active GMRS license!

GMRS is partially interoperable with license-free Family Radio Service (FRS) radios commonly sold at US retail stores.  You and your family can use higher-power GMRS equipment to talk to your unlicensed neighbors' FRS radios.

GMRS licensees and their families have access to repeaters.  Just like ham radio repeaters, these systems receive and re-transmit portable and mobile users' signals over a broader area from an antenna on a tower or atop a tall building.  Some GMRS repeaters are open-access -- anyone with a valid GMRS license who operates according to customary procedures and Part 95 rules are welcome to use the system.  Others require approval from the repeater owner. is the de facto clearinghouse for GMRS repeater listings and access approvals nationwide.  There are dozens of active GMRS repeaters in Virginia and several right here in the Richmond metro area.

Why get a GMRS license?

It's a great way to get radios in the hands of family members who have little desire to study for a Technician Class license.  It offers many of the same voice capabilities as 70-centimeter ham radio with a faster, easier licensing process.

A lot of hams find that GMRS is an excellent supplement to their ham radio license.  Inexpensive equipment and a generous license have earned GMRS a place in many families' everyday communications.

Additional GMRS resources

Even though GMRS is "not ham radio" there's a lot of overlap between the two services.  Our monthly membership meetings and other public club activities can be a great place to learn about radio generally and get equipment advice and basic troubleshooting help.  We're not aware of any GMRS-specific clubs in our region, though some ham radio clubs have begun incorporating GMRS into their educational and public service offerings.  The Culpeper Amateur Radio Association (CARA/W4CUL) even operates a GMRS repeater in the Gordonsville area.

Here are some additional resources to help you get started:

GMRS radios must be FCC type-accepted for use in the service.  The use of unlocked ham radio transceivers, Part 90 radios, and other equipment not specifically type accepted for GMRS use is "at your own risk."  Here are a handful of popular GMRS equipment manufacturers selling equipment which is legal for GMRS:

Existing GMRS users

When you're ready to upgrade to ham radio and gain the ability to talk around the world, head over to our Get Licensed page.

Richmond Amateur Telecommunications Society, Inc. (RATS) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. PO Box 70613, Henrico VA, 23255
Looking for something?  Site Map

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software