Do I Need A Licence To Use Walkie Talkies in the United Kingdom?

The short answer to this is "yes", in most cases!

OFCOM Are In Charge Of U.K. Radio Licencing

The use of radio transmitting equipment of all types in Great Britain is controlled by Ofcom (the "Office of Communications").

Use of most walkie-talkies DEFINITELY requires some sort of licence from Ofcom, EXCEPT for a class of walkie-talkies that meet a technical standard that specifies what frequencies they use and their maximum power output.

This standard has been adopted by all E.U. member states as well as the United Kingdom, which is useful for people wanting to take their "licence-free" walkie-talkies around Europe on holidays etc.

Because the licence-exempt radios must use some frequencies around 446MHz, the standard is called "PMR446" (standing for "Private Mobile Radio 446MHz").

PMR446 "Licence-Free" Walkie-Talkies Explained

All PMR446-compliant radios use a set of 16 frequencies at 446Mhz.

Originally there were only 8 frequencies, and most PMR446 radios on the market still only have 8 "channels" available.

Most walkie-talkies sold to the public in shops will be PMR446 radios.

All PMR446 radios can only have ½ watt power output, which means that they will not have a brilliant range. "Licenced" walkie-talkies typically have around 4 watts power output.

Many models of PMR446 walkie-talkie have the numbers "446" somewhere in their model name.

See a list of the PMR446 frequencies here.

What Kinds of Radio Licence Are Available in the UK?

Simple UK Licence

The simplest and cheapest type of Ofcom licence available is actually called the "Simple UK" or to use its full title from Ofcom's web site, "Simple UK Light".

This licence allows the licenced person or organisation to use however many walkie-talkies programmed to a list of frequencies that are included in this licence.

It currently costs £75 and is valid for five years. You only need one licence per organisation, no matter how many walkie-talkies you use.


This type of licence involves Ofcom assigning the licence-holder one or more frequencies for their exclusive use at a given location.

It can cost several hundred pounds per year, it costs more in "crowded" parts of the UK such as in London, where there is more demand for frequencies.

Where Can I Get A Licence For Walkie Talkies In The UK?

You can get a licence from Ofcom.

You can download and print off the OFCOM BUSINESS RADIO LICENCE APPLICATION FORM here.


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