Just to clarify on ‘not requiring a license’ - where there is governing legislation in place over the use of a set of frequencies or an entire band (or many, such as ham licenses allow), usually one specific band and a fixed group of frequencies in most cases in LMR type services or common CB usage, irrespective of whether you have to obtain a license (almost most commercial usage requires a license in many countries even if using ‘license free’ or ‘license exempt’ category equipment, you are still bound by the usage and conduct and (where required under the service allocation) type approved equipment by default.
So, if a certain make or a certain manufacturer’s goods haven’t received a correct certification (FCC in North America, not sure about Central and South who i assume have separate PTT’s, the appropriate category of TA for EU and UK import and non-import kit), then they are NOT EVER legal to use, even if you have a service license already to use held because you already have type approved kit and the new ‘import’ stuff was bought to test or to add to the equipment on hand list.
Items, that may be subject to TA but not to a general public accessible licensed service or one with heavy restrictions, are sometimes permitted for higher commercial grade licensed use (or that with a license extention/variation). But if the radio equipment lacks any TA for the region it’s sent to for intended use, you will probably find the same story - not licensable and therefore not permitted to use (outside of ham repurposed use, or usage by a member of a suitably authorised authoritarian User Service user such as police, FBI etc.). In fact, in some countries (not here, maybe not the USA/Canada), possession of unlicensed and unauthorised Transceivers and Transmitters is a criminal offense in it’s own right and that can extend to the ownership of receivers that allow you to monitor access to restricted frequency snooping - the fact it’s incapable of resolving the encrypted traffic has no bearing on such an offence).
Before i had my ham license, i had a few TxCr’s here i listened on and used for visual reference to learn about the circuits involved (PLL’s mainly) - but they existed in a PTT locked out fashion and could only be bypassed by an engineering mode access i didn’t have at the time. But their presence fell into permitted presence, and supervised use, and i had actually declared the ownership to the then RA, and they permitted it formally due to there being a duely licensed tech operator already at the address to ensure the items was used legally as receivers. But in essence, it was only really ever going to be an issue brought up if i had be stupid enough to carry them with me in public and got stopped by the police, and even then it wasn’t a clear cut thing for them to arrest and charge over as it would have required reasonable grounds to believe the equipment was capable of being used illegally or for illegal purposes or the supported use of for criminal activities, which they were not capable of a your local station - conclusive proof of the capability of use, i mean.
Pretty much internationally (with a few exceptions where there is no such thing as a amateur radio license/permit), you can legally (if a ham licensee) import (subject to not being an a specific prohibition list, or in a category of), modify and disregard all Type Approval requirements (which normally prohibit user modification, servicing of the contents or even technically opening up the radio other piece of TA kit you use with the radio is prohibited). The only actual restriction beyond a compulsory prohibition list instance preventing the import (ownership isn’t, ironically, counted - so if you are given the kit despite it’s been illegally imported, provided you obtained it legally, ownership is ok) is you must (using ham license exempted equipment) use them on the frequencies you are actually licensed to use them under and only those.
So, for example of that, i can (and have) obtained a great deal of non-UK equipment because of that freedom, but only for ham radio usage. I am permitted to technically air it for the purpose of establishing it’s operational state and do pre-mod testing on frequencies it’s already set up for if outside of ham allocations, provided it’s done under test conditions, i.e. heavily attenuated enough that a equipment needing to measure it’s EM field can do so without the emission leaving the boundaries of the station (so usually i use the basement, inside very thick inner walls (main core structure of the property that i know are already steel reinforced so acting as a faraday shield of sorts) for a workshop at the home QTH, which also has piped antenna feeds for other ham and modded non-ham gear not in the main setup. Beyond that basic original state test, all other subsequent testing has to be done under what we call dummy load conditions (an incredibly lossy impedance load of the same terminating impedance as that of the Tx’s antenna output) or with power reduced where tethered to equipment for diagnostics and testing during the re-alignment, modification process. Once it’s got to the stage you can set it up, i.e. select correct frequencies and it be in-band, then (under a ham license) it’s permissible to do proper air tests etc. So, since you don’t need much of field to test with decent quality service grade equipment (which i have), i err on the side of caution and test everything first on a dummy load to establish purity of the setup, irrespective of the RF equipment.
‘We’ in the ham world get that right because we earnt Technical user status through a process of demonstrating technical competence, something no other ‘end user’ license gives you. But even then, we still have to employ complying with a least the international ITU regulations and national (or EU-UK until the UK rules remove the EU mandated aspects once more) regulations.
So i can use 446 Mhz, but under PMR446 regulations not under Ham radio regulations, but the technical status does allow me to posses equipment not permitted to those only permitted to use the license-exempt 446 equipment (Tier 1, i can own and use Tier 2/3 but not on 446Mhz). So if i want to use 446Mhz, i have to either use license-exempt Tier 1 or renew my PMR license for whichever actual category i need for Tier 2/3 operation in 446Mhz - but either way, i still am only (under the regs) only allowed to use TA certified equipment on 446Mhz under the PMR licensed or license exempt status.
So a lack of a need for license isn’t a license to kill allowing you to disregard the need for TA and run any old kit. That’s reserved for tech grade operators, but still under the tech operators specific license conditions that permit the use of non-approved equipment.
There are core rules/legislation in most countries governing the use of wireless communications equipment (yes, even stuff that’s not strictly radio, if it generates a strong enough EM field).
Then you have User Service level rules/legislated use (‘User Service’ maybe called something else in different regions of the world, but the meaning is consistent regardless), and depending on your User Service category, one or more license categories as an operator which definate what you can use, where and under what conditions. Example being, in ham radio, some countries we can take our UK license, just notify the PTT in whichever country we visit (can be done in advance usually) and we operate usually abroad using the equivalent region Prefix instead of M, 2E, G/GM/GW etc, we just usually take the three character remainder and use that with a local/regional prefix for where we operate from. Where we have to formally get what’s a temporary license certification to say we are cleared, then depending on the country we may have to use a temporary local callsign issued or use our UK one with some variation, some countries even allow straight use of your own national callsign just requiring you to state the correct location (QTH) when on air.
But getting back to LMR stuff, what was said by Rick about FRS equipment requiring a fixed antenna - that was true here until recently, but even under revision, the rest of the TA applies to PMR446 as would FRS if the fixed antenna requirement got dropped. Where it get’s interesting is the FRS rules about not being capable of multiple band TX use - in some countries, where that kind of restriction applies normally to LMR licensed use, if you hold a tech grade license and only use the other accessible allocations for TX/RX operations, it only requires you only use it on a license by license basis. So, it would, where it applies, allow a Ham to use a dual mode (TA approved) 446 unit under permitted license use of 446, or you could switch the zone to where you have your ham frequencies presets and work those frequencies on the same handset without changing it’s legal TA status, but what you definitely can’t do is employ the fact you may be able to cross-band repeat and use it to create a cross-band between separately licensed services on the set. Where it becomes grey, and again region/service/license specific, is the legality of taking an LMR, crosslinking to another LMR or CB set (via automated PTT control and linking audio output to input between both sets) so doing a ‘patch’ or crosslink. In the context of ham radio we can use LMR kit on ham frequencies to cross-band or cross-link ham traffic, but exactly how and if it’s under standard non-NOV license status depends on the setup, but either way - it must be ham traffic on ham frequencies involved. This is what makes RoIP gateways legal on ham usage - provided you (as gateway provider) ensure you only let valid licensees use the cross-internet linking. But again, depending on the nature of the gateway, and if it’s restricted to personal use or public ham access and power/ERP setup, may or may not require an NOV.
There are NOV applications for most licenses (not always called NOV mind) in most services that you can maybe apply for to vary your license to allow temporary non-TA certified equipment, but the provision for that under all the LMR services i have hand experience of or dug deep into the legislation and rules of don’t make it easy and usually require some pretty substantial absolute technical or essential use need grounds to obtain, and even then it’s very temporary and highly restrictive and breach of a NOV rules (or NOV equiv) can actually get your general license permanently restricted or denied.
We used to say over here in the UK on the ham side, back when you could expect a random logbook and station inspection or one as a result of a complaint or being assessed as a possible candidate for a complaint not directly associated with you, that having no official extra words or notes (hand written back then) on your log was a good thing you actually wanted to maintain. A signature/initials of inspector was not necessarily a bad thing, but anything that’s a note of some sort is always not in your favour. I guess similar sentiments exist across most nationalities of ham radio users.
Well, anyway, Rick has told you the score, i’ve enlighted on some of the whys of a lack of TA and implications, so continued use of the unauthoried (by lack of TA) in the USA puts you very much in what would be a criminal category over here (especially if it was proven you did so with intent and evidence proved you had be notified of the fact you weren’t actually permitted to use). Not sure how that pans out in the USA, but i’m sure it’s not gonna be blind-eyed. Oh, and remember now you’ve asked on here and been notified by a US resident and US-market informed person, you made it public and can’t argue you were never told - because if legally mandated to, the forum ops would have to provide the evidence (your post, responses and almost anything else in the thread).
On the bright side, if it had been a TA certified set, then you could use a dual receiver to listen (probably legally) to traffic on other allocations or worst case dual parallel use of two frequencies in use simultaneously within the same permitted use allocation but TX would be permitted on one of the two frequencies provided it was in-allocation. In fact, if any radio has a Dual Watch mode, it’s already technically listening to main and DW set frequencies on dual receiver equipped sets or rapidly switching a single receiver between two frequencies. But DW and Priority watch modes (when engaged) usually make use of a sub-receiver if the set isn’t user dual receiver equipped.
As a rule, when i buy to import for ham repurposing, i ensure that any vendor can provide the correct and valid FCC reference for it’s USA/Canada market use, if possible valid PAC region certification evidence or the means for me to verify. None of those is relevant to my use, but it does help ensure at least one region certification will be valid - which may be valuable support evidence in the obscure event i need to prove i established some kind of evidence it has a TA of any kind.
I would suggest, but essentially specifically for US/CANADA importation, you definitely get evidence and verification before you buy off a foreign supplier or US based supplier of foreign gear you have no other evidence that it’s USA/CANADA destined version are actually of valid TA.