Land vhf frequencies on marine vhf radio, opinions, legal issues?

Im fairly new to the in depth of radio/FCC legalities, but ive been listening for years.

Im looking to purchase a vhf radio for use in my volunteer fire/rescue ems station and monitor local LE traffic in the area. carteret county is in the process of making the switch to narrow band so im in need of a radio thats compatable.
Located minutes from the atlantic in NC, i frequent the beach, and often out on the water. My vhf on my boat is 15-20 years old and is rather difficult navigate through channels with the worn out buttons on it.

So ive been browsing for both a land vhf and marine vhf options and while browsing vertex standards website i looked at standard horizon radios also and found this.

anyone have input/opinions on performance/ durability of this radio. and is there any legal issues/stipulations for using a “marine vhf” on land. but transmitting on land vhf frequencies. "aside from requiring FCC license to transmit.

basically if i can kill 2 birds with one stone so to speak, and not have to purchase 2 radios id be happy.

As long as you are not transmitting on marine freqs from land you are not suing a “marine radio” on land.

I have one and it is great. Solid, well built and durable. It does NOT float however like some of the newer ones.

The 40 extra channels are perfect for LMR, HAM, etc. I have several local amateur freqs in it along with MURS.
It will do repeater splits and tones as well.

You do need a cable and software to program though, but that is no big deal.

you have another PM

I have found while listening to my Marine band out here in Arizona that there is a lot of none marine use on them . Meaning There is DOT people on them and the police on the other side of town use them. Now I don’t think there using Marine radios but some of the frequencies are being used

I’ve been looking for an article I read a few years back about DOT and LE being authorized to use Marine VHF channels inland, but I haven’t found it yet.

The gist of it is: only in certain parts of the country, and a minimum distance from anywhere that Marine VHF would be used. Special FCC authorization is required.

Can anyone back me on this?

Icom makes a quality, small, portable radio that is waterproof. The VHF model, F50V, has the capability to program Marine, Ham, Public Safety and Business frequencies in it (128 channels). It also has paging capabilities and a vibrate feature to act as a pager if the fire department uses that. Please remember, you can listen to any frequency but you have to have a license to transmit.

We carry the Icom IC-F50V here. You can also now hear an audio sample of the radio and compare it to other two way radios in its class.

Hello all I am new to this forum. I have found forums very knowledgeable and friendly. I somewhat new to radios. My family has had CB radio for use on trips but other than that have not done anything else. I recently (in the last year) have installed a CB (texas ranger) that I was given from my father-in-law, in my Jeep. I have found that they are kinda dead these days or at least where I am. I have a couple pairs of the new GMRS/FRS and have been looking for a GMRS/FRS radio in a CB format to be installed along in my Jeep. My family and I do a lot of camping and travel in convoys. I have seen 2 Marine VHF radios that are also GMRS. I have also heard VHF being used inland (western NC) and here are my questions. Are marine VHF radios legal inland? Do I need a license for VHF or GMRS /FRS? Are there marine / inland frequencies? What kind of antenna do I need for the new radio / can I use a CB antenna? Are there any other issues I my have since I have 2 radios in one vehicle? BTW the radio I was looking at is a Cobra CBR-MRHH425L Thanks in advance.

FRS radios - by design, are not allowed to produce more then one half of one watt and are not allowed to have a detachable antenna - hence you cannot increase the gain of the antenna in any way.

GMRS - as associated to the Family Radio Service ( Bubble Pack Radios) are limited to one watt of transmit power - same antenna restrictions.
By nature - the FCC does not know what to do with the sheer number of GMRS radios - but they ALL require a family license to operate.

The GMRS license, is about $85.00 for FIVE years and it covers your whole family. There is restrictions to the GMRS license.
You are not allowed to use it as a hobby - call CQ.

Most of the businesses that used GMRS were forced to migrate to the LMRS.

Using a Marine radio on land is ILLEGAL, and using it without ownership of a boat is also ILLEGAL.

Most reputable radio dealers will ask you for your license call sign before they will sell you a radio. Ham Radio Outlet, AES - etc… All asks - What is YOUR call sign? Legally, at one time, they were not allowed to sell you a radio unless you possessed a call sign!

Check out the rules - FCC Part

The Texas Ranger - Import CB did not work on the Jeep, because structurally it is too small, and the antenna was placed in the wrong place and was the wrong size; there is not a lot of options when it comes to a JEEP.

Range is determined by the antenna, and most places - other then truck drivers, no one uses the CB radio anymore - most local communications has migrated to the CELL phone and texting.
When the band conditions are poor - such as right now with the most recent CME and Polar Geomagnetic Storms - propogation on 11 meters is poor to none.

This has always been a problem with 11 meters… ( CB radio)

Tower Tech is correct about the marine radios. Although the marine band is licensed by rule in domestic waters (no license is required if operating recreational craft within US territory), those frequencies are only legal for use on water.

The Cobra MR-425LI you mentioned is a solid combo marine/GMRS radio that can be a good solution for both marine and land use, however you do need a license to operate on GMRS frequencies.

CB isn’t bad way to go if you need the radio on road trips when travelling in convoys. CB isn’t where it was in the 70’s, but isn’t really dead and there are still a lot of them out there. Personally I think that’s a plus, because it means the channels aren’t as crowded as they once were, which gives you some breathing room if you need them on the road for communicating in a convoy.

Antennas are not mix and match. It’s almost a science, but the short answer is you need to choose the correct antenna for the correct bands and frequencies and the correct radio (handheld, mobile, base station) as well.

The bottom line is this: radio is primarily a tool for communication. It has its strengths and it has its limitations. The best way to determine the right tool for your specific need is to learn about the differences between these tools and choose the one that you feel best fits your needs within those limitations.

We have a lot of resources on the basics of these radio services that can help you make the best choice for what you need. Here are a few:

The Two Way Radio Show Podcast
TWRS-01 - An Introduction to Consumer Radios
TWRS-10 - Radios on the Road
TWRS-15 - An Introduction to CB Radios
TWRS-16 - An Introduction to Marine Radios

Two Way Radio Basics
Getting Started with Marine Radios
A Beginner’s Guide to CB Radio
Getting The Most Range From Your Radio

Radio 101 - The difference between UHF and VHF radios
Radio 101 - The truth about FRS / GMRS two way radio range

I like Rick’s answer…

My answer has no sugar coating.

I believe that Hcarlgolden was looking for some type of validation/ permission, where he felt he could use his Cobra 5 watt handheld. without a license.

GMRS or FRS - does not permit more then one watt or a removeable antenna.

Not that 5 watts is going to set the world on fire, but that when it has a removeable antenna - its performance can be improved by a more efficient antenna.

Actually, the limit on a GMRS mobile or base station is 50 watts. A handheld GMRS radio is generally limited to 5 watts or less.

Also, it is certainly legal to talk to other GMRS stations outside your immediate family, as long as the other operators also have a license.

To be fair to hcarlgolden, I did not read anything subversive at all in his post. He said he is new to radios and he wanted to know what he needed to do. He asked a lot of questions. He wanted to know if he needed a license. Obviously he is concerned about it, because if he didn’t care, he wouldn’t have asked.

It’s good to ask those questions, because it means there is a potential interest to do it correctly. There is nothing to sugarcoat. I just answered the questions in simple terms without prejudice or making any assumptions.

As a friendly forum, I would hope all our members are comfortable asking those questions. :slight_smile:

Here is a brief overview.


§ 95.29 Channels available.

(f) Except for a GMRS system licensed
to a non-individual, a mobile
station or a small base station operating
in the simplex mode may transmit
on the following 462 MHz interstitial
462.5625, 462.5875, 462.6125, 462,6375, 462.6625,
462.6875 and 462.7125.
These channels may be used only under
the following conditions:
(1) Only voice type emissions may be
(2) The station does not transmit
one-way pages; and
(3) The station transmits with no
more than 5 watts ERP.

§ 95.25 Land station description.
(a) A land station is a unit which
transmits from a specific address as determined
by the licensee.
(1) An exact point as shown on the license;
(2) An unspecified point within an operating
area (an area within a circle
centered on a point chosen by the applicant)
as shown on the license, for a
temporary period (one year or less).
(b) The point from which every land
station transmits must be within an
area where radio services are regulated
by the FCC.

(d) A small control station is any control
station which:
(1) Has an antenna no more than 6.1
meters (20 feet) above the ground or
above the building or tree on which it
is mounted (see § 95.51); and

(e) A small base station is any base
station that:
(1) Has an antenna no more than 6.1
meters (20 feet) above the ground or
above the building or tree on which it
is mounted (see § 95.51); and
(2) Transmits with no more than 5
watts ERP.
(f) Each base station and each control
station with an antenna height
greater than 6.1 meters (20 feet) must
be separately identified on Form 605.
See §§ 95.25 (d) and (e) and 95.51 of this
[48 FR 35237, Aug. 3, 1983, as amended at 53
FR 47715, Nov. 25, 1988; 53 FR 51625

§ 95.101 What the license authorizes.
(a) A GMRS license authorizes a
GMRS station to transmit messages to
other GMRS stations at any geographical
location within or over the
territorial limits of any area where
radio services are regulated by the
FCC. These points are listed in Appendix
(b) The license does not authorize operation
as a common carrier or communication
of messages for pay.
© If the licensee is a corporation
and the license so indicates, it may use
its GMRS system to furnish non-profit
radio communication service to its
parent corporation, to another subsidiary
of the same parent, or to its
own subsidiary. Such use is not subject
to the cooperative use provisions of
§ 95.33.

§ 95.103 Licensee duties.
The licensee is responsible for the
proper operation of the GMRS system at all times.
The licensee is also responsible
for the appointment of a station
(b) The licensee may limit the use of repeater
to only certain user stations.

§ 95.105 License term.
A license for a GMRS system is usually
issued for a 5-year term.

§ 95.115 Station inspection.
If an authorized FCC representative
requests to inspect any station in a
GMRS system, the licensee or station
operator must make the station available.
If an authorized FCC representative
requests to inspect the GMRS system
records, the licensee must make
them available.

§ 95.119 Station identification.
(a) Except as provided in paragraph
(e), every GMRS station must transmit
a station identification

§ 95.139
(1) Following the transmission of
communications or a series of communications;
(2) Every 15 minutes during a long
(b) The station identification is the
call sign assigned to the GMRS station
or system.
© A unit number may be included
after the call sign in the identification.
(d) The station identification must be
transmitted in:
(1) Voice in the English language; or
(2) International Morse code telegraphy.
(e) A station need not identify its
transmissions if it automatically retransmits
communications from another
station which are properly identified.

§ 95.129 Station equipment.
Every station in a GMRS system
must use transmitters the FCC has certificated
for use in the GMRS.
All station equipment
in a GMRS system must comply
with the technical rules in part 95.

§ 95.135 Maximum authorized transmitting
(a) No station may transmit with
more than 50 watts output power.

© A small control station at a point
north of Line A or east of Line C must
transmit with no more than 5 watts
(d) A fixed station must transmit
with no more than 15 watts output
(e) A small base station must transmit
with no more than 5 watts ERP.

§ 95.171 Station operator duties.
When a GMRS station is transmitting,
it must have a station operator.
The station operator must be at the
control point for that station. The
same person may be the operator for
more than one station at the same
time. The station operator communicates
messages and controls the station.
The station operator must also
cooperate in sharing each channel with
station operators of other stations.

§ 95.179 Individuals who may be station

(a) An individual GMRS system licensee
may permit immediate family
members to bor her GMRS system. Immediate family
members are the:
(1) Licensee;
(2) Licensee’s spouse;
(3) Licensee’s children, grandchildren,
(4) Licensee’s parents, grandparents,
(5) Licensee’s brothers, sisters;
(6) Licensee’s aunts, uncles, nieces,
nephews; and
(7) Licensee’s in-laws.
(b) Only the following persons may be
permitted to operate under the authority
of a GMRS system licensed to a
(1) If the GMRS system
licensee is:

(2) These persons may only communicate
messages about the licensee’s
business activities. Employees of the
licensee may communicate messages
while acting within the scope of their
employment, and only about the licensee’s
business activities.
© The licensee may permit a telephone
answering service employee to
be a station operator if:
(1) That employee only communicates
messages received for the licensee
to the licensee;
(2) The station equipment at the telephone
answering point is not shared in
any other GMRS system; and
(3) The station at the telephone answering
service point is not interconnected
to the public switched telephone
(d) The station operator of a GMRS
system licensed to an individual may
be a station operator in any other
GMRS system if he/she has permission
from the licensee of the other GMRS

§ 95.181 Permissible communications.

© A station operator for any entity
other than an individual licensed in the
GMRS may communicate two-way
voice messages concerning the licensee’s
business activities (see § 95.179). An
employee for an entity other than an
individual licensed in the GMRS may,
as a station operator, communicate
two-way voice messages while acting
within the scope of his/her employment.
(d) A station operator for any GMRS
licensee may communicate two-way
voice messages concerning:
(1) Emergencies (see § 95.143);
(2) Rendering assistance to a motorist;
(3) Civil defense drills, if the responsible
agency requests assistance.
(e) All messages must be in plain language
(without codes or hidden meanings).
They may be in a foreign language,
except for call signs (see
§ 95.119).
(f) A station operator may communicate
tone messages for purposes of
identification or transmitter control in
a control link.
(g) A station operator may communicate
a selective calling tone or tone
operated squelch only in conjunction
with a voice communication. If the
tone is subaudible (300 Hertz or less) it
may be communicated during the entire
voice message. If the tone is audible
(more than 300 Hertz) it may be
communicated for no more than 15 seconds
at a time.
(h) A station operator may communicate
a one-way voice page to a paging
receiver. A selective calling tone or
tone operated squelch may be used in
conjunction with a voice page, as prescribed
in paragraph (g) of this section.
A station operator may not communicate
a tone-only page (tones communicated
in order to find, summon or notify

§ 95.183 Prohibited communications.
(a) A station operator must not communicate:
(1) Messages for hire, whether the remuneration
received is direct or indirect;
(2) Messages in connection with any
activity which is against Federal,
State, or local law;
(3) False or deceptive messages;
(4) Coded messages or messages with
hidden meanings (‘‘10 codes’’ are permissible);
(5) Intentional interference;
(6) Music, whistling, sound effects or
material to amuse or entertain;
(7) Obscene, profane or indecent
words, language or meaning;
(8) Advertisements or offers for the
sale of goods or services;
(9) Advertisements for a political
candidate or political campaign (messages
about the campaign business may
be communicated);
(10) International distress signals,
such as the word ‘‘Mayday’’ (except
when on a ship, aircraft or other vehicle
in immediate danger to ask for
(11) Programs (live or delayed) intended
for radio or television station
(12) Messages which are both conveyed
by a wireline control link and
transmitted by a GMRS station;
(13) Messages (except emergency messages)
to any station in the Amateur
Radio Service, to any unauthorized
station, or to any foreign station;
(14) Continuous or uninterrupted
transmissions, except for communications
involving the immediate safety of
life or property;
(15) Messages for public address systems.

[Non-working link removed]

Thanks to Rick S and Tower Tech. I am not trying to do anything illegal and I get lost reading a lot of the FCC rules. Like I said I am new to the whole radio scene. If I have to get a license for something I want to do I will get the license. I did not know that GMRS radios could not have a detachable antenna. But I am still confused. Rick S said “The Cobra MR-425LI you mentioned is a solid combo marine/GMRS radio that can be a good solution for both marine and land use, however you do need a license to operate on GMRS frequencies.” So does this come with a antenna?
And Tower Tech said “You are not allowed to use it as a hobby” & “Most of the businesses that used GMRS were forced to migrate to the LMRS.” Then what can we use GMRS for? I am trying to learn more here by asking Questions like Rick S said. I just thought it would be easier for me to have a radio permanently mounted in my vehicle instead of carrying one of these small ‘bubble pack’ radio that imho are getting too small. I saw that Cobra and one Kenwood that I thought would fit my uses and wanted to ask before I bought.
This is what I was looking at.

The Bubble Pack radios - Cobra, Motorola etc that produces 1/2 watt on the Family Radio Service and one watt on the GMRS - simplex frequencies - are not allowed to have a removeable antenna.

The Buisness radios that produces more then 1 watt on the GMRS frequencies requires a license.
As you can see by the rules, there is height restrictions and power restrictions for base stations and mobiles also have antenna and power restrictions and the radios do have to be FCC Part Type acceptable.

Amateur radio - the radios do and don’t have to be part type acceptable.
If it is a new - production type transceiver - it has to be part type acceptable. If it is a radio that was used in another radio service and converted so it only works in the amateur bands - then it is part type acceptable. If it can operate on more then just the amateur radio portion of the bands then it is NOT - NOT PART TYPE ACCEPTABLE.

Unfortunately with the economy and the FCC being out of money, and the ARRL trying not to offend anyone - this part of the rules has been misinterperated when it comes to Beofeng and Whosuns and all these new Chinese radios that has come along in the past two years.

The part about not being able to use someone else’s repeater, and about not being able to use it as a hobby comes from the fact that it was a buisness band, but was converted for government use and also public use.
The license allows you to communicate between family members - hence the one license covers the whole family…
When you start operating on frequencies for which your license does not permit, or talk to people who are not of your family - then you are using it as a hobby.

Yes the FCC rule making process is very tedious and very strict.
It has to be strict, because they have to ensure that some wise cracker doesn’t come along and figure out a way around the rules.

The Amateur radio is slightly different.
The amateur service is for self-training, intercommunication and
technical investigation carried on by technically qualified persons solely
with a personal aim and without pecuniary or business interests.

The radio you are looking at is a Marine Radio and not really suitable for what you want to do.

Most times you can get away with a old Motorola - PLMRS radio, since there is only 8 frequencies in GMRS.

You have to remember also that all radios after Jan 1, 2013 - has to be narrow banded. From what I saw from the other radio services, the radios even had to be tested to make sure that they were compliant before they were used.

This takes a little bit more knowledge on how to set up the deviation then just clicking the narrow mode.
I believe that all radios made after 1998 are capiable of being narrowbanded.

The narrow banding has driven some consumers off the GMRS / PLMRS due to the fact that their transceivers were not compliant and it was cheaper to just buy everyone cell phones.

Since the Amateur Radio does not require anyone to narrow band - those cast off radios can sometimes be a real bargain - if you know what you are getting and if you can program them yourself.

Most Motorola’s has real ****** audio…

If I was going to buy a new radio it would either be a Vertex Standard or a Kenwood. Then you do not have to mess around with proprietary software and software licenses and ribs…

I have one and it is great. Solid, well built and durable. It does NOT float however like some of the newer ones.