Two-way Radio Frequency Licenses in Canada

Did you know two-way radios require a license?

In order for two-way radios to communicate with each other, they both need to be tuned to the same radio frequency or channel. Out-of-the-box, commercial-grade "business" two-way radios are not programmed with any frequencies, which means they're basically unusable until you program them.

When you purchase a two-way radio in Canada, you must get a radio frequency license through Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED).

This license gives you authorization to use your own specific radio frequency in a specific part of the country. The purpose of this is give you your own dedicated radio channel(s) to use on your portable and mobile radios so nobody can interrupt your communications. It also makes sure you won't be interrupting anyone else either. So it's a win-win for everyone!

Is there a fee for a two-way radio frequency license?

Like most licenses, there is a small fee involved. For portable (handheld) and mobile (vehicle-mounted) radios, the price is $40 per radio, per year regardless of how many frequencies you are licensed for. This fee is billed to you directly by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.

So whether you need your own frequency, want to use someone else's, or would like access to the RR (rural roads) or LADD channels for recreational purposes, you need a frequency license.

Is the radio licensing process difficult or time consuming?

Not at all. These licenses can be obtained through ISED's website. Simply develope a user profile and completing an application form. Licences are usually approved in a few days and we're happy to help if you need it.

It is important to understand the licensing requirements behind radio use and to follow it accordingly. ISED has developed a new web page in an effort to make finding this information easier. 

Will you program a two-way radio with frequencies if I don't have a license?

Sometimes people ask us this because they think it's not a big problem. Unfortunately, it is a big problem.

These are the reasons why we don't do it:

  • Having a licensed frequency is better for you because you won't experience any interference from other users on the same frequency.

  • You won't interfere with anyone else.

  • Yes, there is a cost but it is $0.10 per day per radio and you get a much better experience.

  • You could face a hefty fine if your found to have a radio with unlicensed frequencies in it....and yes, people do get caught.

  • We could face a hefty fine if we program a radio for you and you don't have a license for those frequencies. We're not keen on that, so we will only program radios with your licensed frequencies. 

  • As a legitimate and profession two-way radio supplier, we know that this is important. If a radio supplier is willing to program a two-way radio with unlicensed frequencies for you, you should beware. 

 Did you know your license is only valid in a particular area?

The radio communications frequency spectrum has a limited number number of frequencies, so ISED will often re-issue the same frequency in many different areas to satisfy the deman. For example, a private channel that you're licensed to use in Vancouver, BC may be re-issued to a construction crane operator Whistler, BC. If you travel to Whistler use that channel to chat with your hunting buddies you could interfere with the crane operator, which could be life threatening for someone on the construction site.