Nov 03, 2021


Categories: Radio

Do You Need a Licence for Walkie Talkies? Ofcom Regulations Explained

Do you need a licence for walkie talkies? This is the question that many people ask themselves when they are deciding whether to buy one for personal or business use. In fact, it depends on the type of walkie talkie you are buying and what you intend to use it for. Walkie talkie licences are granted by Ofcom and there are various types of licences for different walkie talkie use.

In this article, we will explain when you need an Ofcom licence, how to apply for one, the differences between licensed and unlicensed walkie talkies and our top three picks for both.

For our expert advice on licensed and unlicensed walkie talkies, get in touch with us here.

What is an Ofcom Licence?

Ofcom is the organisation that regulates telecommunications in the UK. Walkie talkies are a form of two-way radio communication and Ofcom licences cover their use across all frequencies. This is necessary because walkie talkies operate on the same wavelengths as other forms of communication, such as emergency services or air traffic control. Without a licence for walkie talkies, their use could interfere with these services and cause serious problems.

What are the Different Types of Ofcom Licence?

There are various types of Ofcom licences for walkie talkies and the licence you need will depend on what you intend to use your walkie talkies for. Here are the five most common licences:

1. Simple UK Light Licence

This is the most common type of Ofcom licence and it covers both general business usage and personal usage across all frequencies. This means that you can use your walkie talkies both in-house (e.g. within a warehouse) and close outdoor use. However, you cannot in locations such as sports stadiums, airports etc. If you are intending to undertake any activities which require a greater range than these, then you will need an additional licence from Ofcom called a ‘Technically Assigned’ (see below).

2. Simple Site Light Licence

The Simple Site Light licence is similar to the simple UK one except that there are restrictions on how far away from premises they can be used – defined by their licensed site. This is typically for those who use walkie talkies as a security measure and so only need them to work on the site itself, such as warehouses or factories.

3. Technically Assigned Licence

This is the most restrictive type of licence and it is only granted to businesses or organisations that require specific frequencies, such as those used at sports stadiums or airports. If you have this requirement, then Ofcom will assign a dedicated frequency to your walkie talkies. This means that your communications must not interfere with other users on that assigned wavelength and so users cannot leave the location which has been assigned to them. The licences are typically granted for one year before being reassessed again by Ofcom.

4. Suppliers Light Licence

A supplier light licence is required for those who supply walkie talkies to others, such as a walkie talkie rental service or a fleet manager supplying them to drivers. In this case, the supplier will need a simple UK light licence and they must provide details of all users in advance. This ensures that Ofcom knows how many people are going to be using the devices at any one time.

5. Area Defined Licence

An area defined licence is required for those who operate walkie talkies across several sites, which are not in close proximity to each other. For example, a company with two warehouses that are relatively far apart will need an area defined licence because the range of the devices would likely exceed 50m.

man using walkie talkie

For our expert advice on licensed and unlicensed walkie talkies, get in touch with us here.

How Do You Apply for an Ofcom Licence?

The application process starts online and you can do it here. The site has full details on what information you will require before applying but there’s no cost involved once your application is accepted. Once submitted, you should receive confirmation within five working days. This email will include instructions on how to download the software needed to use your new licence and how to update your walkie talkies.

The Differences Between Licensed and Unlicensed Walkie Talkies

Even if you have a licence, it doesn’t necessarily follow that your walkie talkies are legal as you need to follow the rules explained above. Unlicensed devices, as their name suggests, do not require a licence, but they still cannot be used in any location where an Ofcom licence is required. Typically, this includes but is not limited to:

  • Sports stadiums or other venues with spectator seating or a capacity of more than 1000 people
  • Airports
  • Busy roads and railways
  • Government buildings

The key question to ask yourself before using an unlicensed walkie talkie is whether there’s a risk that it could interfere with another device or communications system. If so, then you will require an Ofcom licence which needs to be purchased well in advance of use. This will ensure that you are legally compliant with the rules and regulations imposed by Ofcom.

For our expert advice on licensed and unlicensed walkie talkies, get in touch with us here.

Our Top Three Licensed Walkie Talkies

At DigiX we have a huge range of licensed walkie talkies for both personal and business use. Our walkie talkies have all the features required for use in various sectors and have multiple channels for licensed use. Here are our top three picks:

  1. DigiX Atom
  2. DigiX Neo
  3. DigiX Echo

Our Number 1 Licensed Walkie Talkie: DigiX Atom

DigiX Atom Walkie TalkieThe DigiX Atom walkie talkie is a lightweight, dual-mode VHF/UHF radio that provides private or group communication with up to 512 channels; 256 analogue and 256 digital. It offers an easy-to-use interface with voice commands and call identity. The Atom walkie talkie enables you to make calls quickly by simply saying the name of your contact. It also comes with caller ID, which displays the name of the person calling you before you answer the call. This walkie talkie has a battery life of up to 10 hours, so it can be used for long periods without requiring recharging.

It has a call log function that can record up to 50 calls, remote monitor, emergency alarm and kill/revive functionality. The Atom works on the following frequencies which you will need to keep in mind when licensing the radio: 400-480MHZ; 350-390MHZ;136-174MHZ; 245MHZ.

All in all, the DigiX Atom is a fantastic walkie talkie that provides all the functions most people will require in a radio that weighs only 210g.

Click here to learn more about the DigiX Atom.

#2 DigiX Neo

DigiX Neo Walkie TalkieThe DigiX Neo walkie talkie is a dual-mode walkie talkie with private/group call, remote monitor, 16-hour battery life and kill/revive functionality. It has 32 channels (both analogue and digital), voice encryption, voice recording, and an emergency alarm. The DigiX Neo works on 400-470Mhz and 136-174Mhz frequencies so make sure you check the licensing requirements.

The DigiX Neo walkie talkie is the ultimate communication tool for both indoor and outdoor work thanks to the lightweight design and long battery life. It can be used for up to 16 hours before it needs recharging which is great for those long days.

The Neo comes with a built-in digital radio, so you don’t need any separate devices or software; just turn on the walkie talkie and join your channel of choice. It’s also very durable thanks to its IP67 water/dust protection rating that makes it resistant against dust particles as well as being submersible in liquid up to one-meter depth. All this along with DigiX’s fantastic customer support ensure that our number two pick is definitely worth checking out!

Click here to learn more about the DigiX Neo.

#3 DigiX Echo

DigiX EchoThe DigiX Echo walkie talkie is one of our most advanced two-way radios, which can be used to communicate with DigiX users and those using different brand walkie talkies. It supports group call communication and has a voice announcement function while the outstanding audio quality provides you with clear conversations every time. The Echo also features a hidden LDC display, IP54 waterproof and dustproof design, 13 hours of operation time and voice recording. The DigiX Echo works on a 400-480Mhz frequency so make sure you check the correct licence.

DigiX Echo walkie talkies are perfect for any business or individual who needs a reliable two-way radio solution that provides crystal clear sound and great durability. They are easy to use and simple to set up, making them a great option for anyone.

Click here to learn more about the DigiX Echo.

Our Top Three Unlicensed Walkie Talkies

As well as our licensed walkie talkies, we also have an extensive range of unlicensed radios. As noted above, you may still need to make sure that you are allowed to use these radios in your desired location. If in doubt, get in touch with our experts and we will be able to advise you. Here are our top three picks:

  1. DigiX Star
  2. DigiX Sky
  3. DigiX Nano

Our Number 1 Unlicensed Walkie Talkie: DigiX Star

DigiX Star

The DigiX Star walkie talkie is a professional-grade DMR 446 two-way radio that’s ready to use right out of the box. This compact, lightweight and durable walkie talkie features 32 channels with 16 pre-programmed channels, a range of accessories and a tough, stylish design. The radio is compatible with other DigiX products, as well as Motorola, Kenwood and Icom radios.

The DigiX Star is ideal for anyone who needs a reliable, high-quality walkie talkie with great durability. It has a water and dustproof rating of IP54 so it is suitable for use in all but the worst conditions. This is a great walkie talkie for anyone looking for a professional-grade radio that is easy to use and provides top of the line functionality.

Click here to learn more about the DigiX Star.

#2 DigiX Sky

DigiX SkyThe DigiX Sky walkie talkie is a professional grade PMR446 radio, which can also communicate with DigiX, Icom, Kenwood and Motorola radios. It’s compact and lightweight so it’s easy to carry around in your pocket or bag. It has 16 pre-programmed channels that you can use license-free in most European countries. It is packed full of useful features including an SOS function, built-in LED flashlight and over 14 hours of battery life. It’s also very durable with a tough IP54 water/dustproof rating that protects against dust particles and water to a fairly high degree.

DigiX Sky walkie talkies are perfect for any business or individual who needs a reliable two-way radio solution that provides crystal clear sound, great durability and is easy to use. They are simple to set up which makes them the perfect option if you are new to two-way radios.

Click here to learn more about the DigiX Sky.

#3 DigiX Nano

DigiX nanoThe DigiX Nano walkie talkie is one of the world’s smallest and most powerful two-way radios. It has a large battery capacity and can be used for more than 10 hours continuously. It has a variety of functions such as private call, group call, remote monitor, record conversation, prompt tone on/off and low power voice alert. The built-in flash memory records up to 200 hours of conversations. The device also features an LCD display that displays the channel number, battery level and signal strength.

The Nano is perfect for anyone who needs a small, powerful walkie talkie that is easy to carry around in your pocket. It has an IP54 waterproof and dustproof rating so it can be used outdoors with little risk of damage. The Nano also uses the DMR open standard which makes this device compatible with other professional-grade radios such as Motorola, Icom and Kenwood.

Click here to learn more about the DigiX Nano.

Final Thoughts

When choosing between a licensed or an unlicensed walkie talkie, it is so important that you think about what you will use the radios for. So in summary, when asking yourself, “Do you need a licence for walkie talkies?”, here are the main considerations: If you only need them for short-range use where there is no chance of interfering with other important communications, then unlicensed walkie talkies or a simple UK light licence may be enough. However, if you have more specialist needs or there is a chance that you could interfere with emergency services or air traffic communications, you should get a more comprehensive Ofcom licence.

For our expert advice on licensed and unlicensed walkie talkies, get in touch with us here.