Walkie Talkies in Different Countries - PMR446, FRS, GMRS - Legality and Licensing

You may be confused about different types of walkie-talkie on sale in different countries, or not be sure what type of radios you need, and what you are legally allowed to use in your part of the world, or in some other country that you intend to visit.

Firstly, please note that any type of radio WILL WORK ANYWHERE in the world.

However, there are laws about where certain kinds of radio SHOULD BE USED LEGALLY.

Regulation Of Use Of Radios Aound The World

In different parts of the world, governments have specified different types of walkie-talkie radio that can be bought and used by the general public.

These rules are usually to make sure that important or "official" users of walkie-talkies (like police and other emergency services etc) do not suffer from interference from members of the public using walkie-talkie radios. 

PMR446 UK / European Walkie-Talkies

UK flag"PMR446" is a European Union standard for radios approved for use in the UK and the European Union. They have 8 channels at frequency 446MHz, and a maximum range of around 2 miles in open country.

No PMR446 radio can have more than 500mW of transmission power, so all makes and models effectively have the same maximum range.

The Cobra radios that we supply and also the Kirisun PT558, Lynx PT400 and Entel HX446L are all PMR446-compliant European radios.

European Union flagPMR446 radios (like the ones that we sell) are NOT APPROVED for use in the U.S.A or Canada.

In Europe the electrical mains voltage is 230 - 240v, so American radio chargers will not work, and will probably be damaged if you plug them in, because they are designed for 120v.

FRS / GMRS American Walkie Talkies

American flagFRS and GMRS are American official standards for consumer radios widely sold in shops in those countries.

They have 14 - 22 channels, on frequencies at 462 and 467MHz. They will not communicate with European PMR446 radios and are NOT LEGAL to use in the UK or Europe.

In the USA and Canada the electrical mains voltage is 120 volts, rather than the 240 volts used in Europe and the United Kingdom, so there could be problems with UK voltage blowing up the US 120v chargers.

There is NO SUCH THING as a "combined" European / American walkie-talkie that is legal to use in both places, since such a radio would, by definition, be capable of transmitting on non-legal frequencies as well, and would therefore not be legal in either country.

You cannot modify an actual PMR446 radio to work on the American FRS/GMRS channels, or vice-versa. You CAN, however program a UK non-PMR446 radio to use the American FRS and GMRS frequencies.

What About the "Rest of the World"?

Individual countries may have their own rules and restrictions about what kind of radios can be legally used. We cannot provide a complete list of these rules.

It is up to the prospective buyer to check what the situation is in their intended country of use.

From our own knowledge many countries in the Middle East are strict about what radios people can even bring in to their countries. Most of Europe do not seem worried about what radios are brought in.

Supply of Radios - User Responsibility

We are happy to sell radios to people anywhere in the world. However, please make sure before ordering that you have read and understood the contents of this web page.

It is the responsibility of the user to make sure that they do not interfere with other users, especially "official" radio users on the same channels.

Ebay Warning - Illegal Radios Offered For Sale in UK

Be aware that there are vendors on Ebay offering "long range" (5 or 10 miles +) walkie-talkies for sale in the UK at low prices.

Ebay logoInvariably, these are actually American radios as described above, and are ILLEGAL TO USE within the UK or Europe.

If you see radios for sale that have 14 or 22 channels, and claim to offer very long ranges, they will probably be American-specification radios.

Also, American products will need 120 volt mains power for their chargers, as well as an American-type socket, whereas in Europe the mains voltage is 230 volts.

You could easily blow up the 120v American chargers if you plug them into the higher-voltage 230v UK wall socket.


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