Federal law generally prohibits radio broadcasts without a license issued by the FCC. Anyone found operating a radio station without FCC authorization can be subject to a variety of enforcement actions, including seizure of equipment, fines and other criminal penalties.

Authorized exceptions

There are certain limited exceptions to this rule. Operation of Citizens Band (CB) radios, domestic ship and aircraft radios, radio control stations and certain other types of devices is allowed without obtaining individual station licenses. Use of these devices must not violate the FCC's operational and technical rules, however, or it could be considered an unauthorized radio operation. For further information, see the FCC's consumer guide Personal Radio Services for Keeping in Touch. If you are suspicious of or are aware of unauthorized radio operations, please notify the FCC.

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Unauthorized Radio Operation Guide (pdf)


Date Last Updated/Reviewed: 
Friday, December 8, 2017