The use of two-way radios, or walkie talkies, has been around since the Second World War. But did you know that in the UK, a licence may be required if you want to use them? It’s important to be aware of all requirements before you purchase and start using your radios – so let’s dive in!
The UK has strict rules when it comes to two-way radio use as there are certain frequencies which can only be used with a valid licence from Ofcom. It is important to adhere to these regulations and not use any frequencies without the proper authorisation. Furthermore, some radios may have access to multiple bands but require different licences for each of them; so make sure to check with Ofcom first before using any frequency.
In addition, it is important to remember that two-way radios can be used by anyone who has the device, so take precautions when using them. Make sure you are aware of what frequencies your radio is operating on and always use the correct ones as applicable. It is also highly recommended not to transmit sensitive or confidential information over any two-way radio communication as there is always the potential for someone else to intercept your transmission.
When you must have a license
If you plan to use a two-way radio system for communication in the UK, it is important to note you will need to obtain a licence from Ofcom if your device does not operate on one of the pre-programmed, licence-free frequencies within the 446.0 – 446.2 MHz range.
There are different types of licences available depending on your specific requirements, so it is important to check with Ofcom for more information.
Many businesses opt for a licensed two-way radio system due to its higher power, better range, and minimal interference, making it more suitable for taxi and transport companies, large sites such as hospitals or factories, care homes or businesses located in multiple locations. Licensed radios are far more powerful than the traditional handheld walkie-talkies and often have a base station or vehicle-mounted antennas to allow for long range communication.
If your business requires a licensed two-way radio system, you’ll need to apply for an Ofcom licence. This process is relatively easy and straightforward, and Ofcom offers plenty of help along the way. With your licence in hand, you can start using your two-way radio system with confidence.
Licenced radios offer greater range and coverage, but require a licence to operate which can make them more expensive. In the UK, there are certain rules that must be followed when using walkie talkies regardless of whether they are licenced or unlicensed. This article will provide helpful tips on how to best utilise your two-way radio for communication purposes as well as explain when a licence is required and where to get one.
licence free radios
Licence-free models which are generally lower powered and have shorter ranges, meaning they are best for personal use or small businesses; and licenced models which are higher powered and can provide secure, private and uninterrupted channels of communication, perfect for most business users.
Licence-free radios operate exclusively on pre-programmed two-way radio frequencies in the UHF frequency range 446MHz, and licenced radios can offer a much wider selection of frequencies for communication. Depending on your needs, it is important to choose the right type of two-way radio for your business or personal use.
Types of Ofcom licence
Ofcom has 5 licence types available for two-way radio users. we will breakdown which type of licence is right for you:
Simple UK Light licence
The Simple UK Light Licence is type of licence allows users to utilise hand-portable or mobile radio equipment anywhere in the UK with access to nineteen frequencies across four Business Radio frequency bands, Individuals with a Simple UK Light license are required to coordinate with each other without external assistance.
There is no need for base station set up as users must self co-ordinate with each other when using these frequencies. The cost of this five year licence is £75, and Radio Trader can supply both handheld and vehicle mounted radios on these frequencies.
Simple Site Light licence
For those who need to communicate over a short distance, two-way radios are an ideal solution. There are different types of two-way radios available in the UK and understanding which one you need is important. Depending on your purpose for using it, you may need to apply for a licence before being able to use the radio legally, This is also £75 per site for five years.
Suppliers’ Light licence
If you plan to hire out business radios or demonstrate them to customers for up to 8 days, then you will require a Business Radio Suppliers’ licence which costs £75 for five years. This type of licence allows users to service and repair business radio equipment as well as allocate it while waiting for their own Business Radio licences.
It also permits customers short-term radio hire services without needing a separate licence. All these activities must be done within certain frequencies shared with other license holders.
Area Defined licence
If you need exclusive use of a two-way radio frequency for communication purposes, then an Area Defined licence from Ofcom is required. The cost of the licence will depend on factors such as the frequency width, its range and the region it covers. Generally speaking, exclusivity will raise the cost to several thousand pounds. It’s important to check with Ofcom first before applying for a licence.
How much is a walkie-talkie license UK?
The cost of a two-way radio licence in the UK varies depending on the type of licence and what frequency you’ll need to use. The most common types are Simple UK Light Licence, which costs £75 for five years; Simple Site Light Licence, which is also £75 per site for five years; Suppliers’ Light Licence, which costs £75 for five years; and Area Defined Licence, which generally costs several thousand pounds depending on the frequency width, range and region it covers.
It is important to note that a licence is only required if you plan to use a two-way radio system in the UK outside of the 446.0 – 446.2 MHz pre-programmed, licence-free frequencies. It is therefore important to check with Ofcom which types of licences you require for your two-way radio system before you start using it.
Applying for a licence
Applying for a licence is relatively easy and straightforward, as Ofcom provides plenty of help along the way. You will need to specify the type of two-way radio services you plan on using, such as mobile or base station. You must also state where you’ll be using the radios – either in one specific area or across multiple locations – and if there are any special requirements for your frequency.
Once you have all the information ready, you can submit an application directly to Ofcom. The process should take no longer than a few weeks if everything goes smoothly. With your licence in hand, you can start using your two-way radio system with confidence, knowing that you are adhering to the required regulations and avoiding any potential fines.