Section 301 of the Communications Act prohibits the ``use or operat[ion of] any apparatus for the transmission of energy or communications or signals by radio'' without a license issued by the Federal Communications Commission. Thus, generally, in order to use or operate a radio station, the Communications Act requires that you first obtain a license by the FCC. There are certain limited exceptions. For example, the Commission has provided blanket authorization to operators of CB radio, radio control stations, and domestic ship and aircraft radios. In addition, the Commission has authorized the operation of certain low power radios pursuant to Part 15 of the Commission's Rules. Thus, operators of these radio facilities are not required to have individual licenses. However, these operators are required to operate their stations in a manner consistent with the Commission's operational and technical rules for those services.

The Commission takes enforcement of Section 301 seriously. Parties found operating radio stations without FCC authorization will be subject to a variety of enforcement actions including seizure of equipment, imposition of monetary forfeitures, ineligibility to hold any FCC license, and criminal penalties.


Written complaints alleging violations of Section 301 of the Communications Act should be sent to the Federal Communications Commission, Enforcement Bureau, Spectrum Enforcement Division, 445 12th Street, SW, Washington, DC 20554. Complaints should include the name of the operator, if known, how the station identifies itself, the location of the station, the operating frequency, the type of station being operated, and whether the station's operation is causing interference.

For complaints involving unlicensed amateur radio operations, please click here.

For complaints involving unlicensed broadcast station operations, please click here.