The answer to this is both yes and no. Here is a list to use it for without a license:
Listen to FM radio
Listen to Emergency Weather Radio
Listen to Local municipalities radio communication
Scan local frequencies
Listen to Local amateur radio transmissions
So looking through the list, you can do a whole lot of listening, but not transmitting. You will have to know which frequencies to tune into so you can try and raise help.
They have many reasons for limiting communication without a license. Local police/fire use VHF and UHF bands. They use these so communications are limited to their region.
How Do You Get Your License?
There are three different levels of licenses issued to HAM Radio operators:
The technician is “entry” level license. This allows you to talk on frequencies above 50MHz. These are the VHF (very high frequencies) and UHF (ultra-high frequencies) frequencies.
These will be for local communications up to 100 miles away depending on equipment. These are a great way to learn the basics of using HAM radios. This level of license allows you to talk through Morse code at lower frequencies.
To get your technician license you should pass a 35-question test out of the 426-question pool. You are asked a certain number of questions from the various categories.
1. Do You Need A License To Operate A Ham Radio?
The general license is the most used class. This allows you to use the HF bands. With this license, you can use all frequencies used by a technician.
Ham radio enthusiasts take their learning and obtaining a license seriously. So other ham radio license operators will track your radio frequency and turn over their findings to the local or federal authorities.
Only in life or death emergencies or nationwide crises, would your use of a ham radio be excused. So, if you don’t have the permission to use this type of radio, there is no way to avoid being discovered.
So if you think you may use it after a strange thing has happened and with no license, you are wrong. Ham radio is one of those devices that require regular maintenance to increase their efficiency.
Checking it a few months before receiving and transmitting signals will be inevitable.
2. How To Renew Ham Radio License?
Here are some instructions to do it without spending a dime.
First, check the license expiration date. It’s printed on the license. If it’s more than 90 days away, make a note on your calendar about it. It can’t be renewed until it is within 90 days of expiring.
Once you are inside the 90-day window, visit the FCC page and type your callsign into the form. Note the number below the “FRN” column on the form.
Now, go to the Universal Licensing System home page. If the previous step showed that you do not have an FRN assigned, you have to click the “Register” button. If you have a FRN, click “Log in.” The FCC sent you a letter asking to pick a password.
If you don’t recall what the password was, then on the login screen choose the “Contact Tech Support” option. If you remember the password, log in, and you’ll reach a screen where you can manage FCC-issued licenses you own.
Click the “Renew” button in the left-hand column and follow the instructions. If your ham license does not appear in the box on the renewal screen, double-check to be sure you’re within the 90-day renewal window.
Once you’ve finished that process, click over to the other FCC database, called CORES, and choose the “Update” button. Log in with the same FRN and password you used to renew, and check that your CORES information matches your license information.
The FCC keeps two separate databases, so it’s good to make sure they have the same information in both.
3. How Much Does It Cost To Get A Ham Radio License?
Let’s break down the options to see how much it costs.
Cost to Take the Exam: $15.
This cost is unavoidable. You are paying to print the exams and for the time of the volunteers. The exam is in-person, just like most licenses like your Driver’s License, Concealed Carry, etc. The easiest way to register for an in-person exam is with ARRL.
The local radio clubs administer exams for $15, and you can save by taking multiple exams in the same sitting! Most exam locations charge you $15 per attempt if you fail the exam and want to try again.
Make sure that you are achieving at least a 74% on your practice exams before attending in-person to avoid the retry fee. It is 100% possible to take the exam online. Similarly to an in-person exam, the examiners charge a small fee for the exam, between $5 – $15.
Cost of Study Materials: $25
On average, most people spend around $25 – $75 on study tools. A study tool is an investment to help you study faster and efficiently, and ensure that you pass.
Ham Radio Prep’s online courses offer benefits like videos, interactive quizzes, and study on the phone. They are inexpensive and jam-packed.
Cost – $25 ARRL Ham Radio License Manual – A classic in ham radio that many hams keep around the shack. It’s not the fastest way to study, but it is complete. Cost: $21.99 – $26.99
Some Free Options:
There are many free study tools – you do not have to pay to study for the exam. If you want to save money, check the free options:
Ham Radio Prep offers free practice tests – you can take on the phone, tablet, or desktop.
Ham Radio Prep offers a 100% FREE study app for Android! This is good to take some practice tests and quizzes no matter where you are.
HamStudy.org, has free online practice tests. However, to get the benefits of HamStudy, you have to pay for the HamStudy app.
Ham Radio Prep has a 100% off scholarship program for those who may be experiencing financial difficulties.
Total Cost For Technician License: $40
It will cost you about $40 to get your Technician license, and if you take General at the same time, you can get both licenses for a total of $50. This is an average – depending on your choice of study tools, you may be able to save a little money.
The key is that you study right and pass the exam the first try so you do not have to pay the $15 exam fee multiple times.