The Baofeng Sales Ban Countdown Continues

Here is a reminder on an upcoming rule change by the FCC:  On September 30, 2019, it will become illegal to sell or “offer for sale” (advertise) radios like the popular Baofeng UV-5R that can operate in the FRS radio band (462.5625 – 462.7250 MHz) and any other licensed band in a single device. Manufacturers will have to either quit selling them or block out the FRS bands–like they already do for the current cellular bands. This is the relevant verbiage:

§ 95.591 Sales of FRS combination radios prohibited.

Effective September 30, 2019, no person shall sell or offer for sale hand-held portable radio equipment capable of operating under this subpart (FRS) and under any other licensed or licensed-by-rule radio services in this chapter (devices may be authorized under this subpart with part 15 unlicensed equipment authorizations).

I strongly recommend stocking up on dual band Baofeng UV-5R handie-talkies before this regulatory change takes place. Presently, if bought in a set of five, the cost per transceiver is only around $23 each, postage paid.  By law, these may still be bought by any adult. But a license is needed to operate them outside of the no-license FRS, GMRS, and MURS bands. (That is, in the amateur operators’ bands.)

Note that this upcoming ban WILL NOT be a ban on the possession or use of FRS dual band ham radios. Nor will be it be illegal to gift them to other adults. Hence, any that are legally owned on or before September 30th will effectively become “grandfathered”. Read between the lines folks: The FCC doesn’t want non-licensed individuals to own radios that can transmit in both licensed bands and unlicensed bands. My supposition is that this is because in the long term they don’t want unlicensed folks to have plausible deniability for toting around ham band-capable gear. Ironically, it was a few boot-licking sycophants within the ham community that pushed for this rule change. Often, people jealously guard their own privileges and want to deny privileges to others who are not in their elite clique. This is essentially a Country Club Members mentality.

So, reiterating my advice: Buy a box of five of these, or perhaps two boxes, while they are still readily available and affordable. The FCC rule change won’t go into effect until September 30, 2019. But if you wait until July or August, then it will probably be too late. It is very likely that by then they will be sold out, or their price will escalate. But for now, they can be had for just $23 per transceiver. Within another month or so, they will be historyThe countdown clock is ticking. Don’t hesitate on this one.

Also note that there will also be some room for profit from the upcoming ban. It is safe to assume that just in the months of August and September, you may be able to double your money, if you decide to sell off any of your spare “new in package” UV-5R transceivers. But starting September 30th, you will only be able to give them away–not advertise or sell them.

Update: Several readers wrote to mention that there are a few other more capable but still quite affordable Baofeng models that will also become import-banned on September 30th. These include:

Regardless of the model that you choose, I recommend getting one spare battery (preferably the long 3800mAh capacity one), and at least one spare antenna per transceiver. The latter, because the Baofeng  antennas are notoriously fragile.

For Baofeng frequency programming instructions (both from the keypad, and “off-board” with a CHIRP cable and PC), see this web page.

I hope that your readers find this information useful, and that you act on it. Again, the clock is ticking. – JWR




61 Comments

  1. Re: Baofeng UV5R FCC Deadline

    That is very good to know.

    Battery life is good, but I have found one battery stored for several years to be bad, and have no quick and easy way for properly testing the capacity of batteries. Batteries can be fully charge, and a volt meter may indicate the same voltage as it does for a newer battery, yet it’s actually capacity (ability to run the radio) can be greatly diminished. The only way I know to test these batteries is to record the time that the radio will remain on while receiving no signal. A load test is what this, but it instead of only a few minutes, this back yard testing takes hours. An alternate method would be to limit the time, and record the beginning and voltage at the end of the time period. It should compare well with the performance of a new battery. However, it is not conclusive.

    Replacement batteries are about $10 bucks. Replacement antennas are about $6 for the cheap A-V85 Boafeng. If the radio can be purchased for $23 bucks, and you get a spare charger, and ear piece, well, that is a bargain! Antennas and batteries wear out. Buy at least 2 per person, if not double that. It is likely that your neighbors will have nothing, or only dusty and rusty CB’s and no handhelds. Having enough to hand out could be important for the defense of the community. Of course for COMSEC, keep private frequencies to yourself.

    1. If the rule applied to all transceivers theoretically capable of transmitting on FRS frequencies, then the MD-390 shouldn’t have been approved. Part 95.561c uses the exact same language to ban certification of “portable radio units capable of operating under both this subpart (FRS) and under any other subparts of this chapter (except part 15)”, of which FCC ID POD-MDUV390 is one (it is capable of transmitting from 400-480 MHz). However, the application was in 2018, past the 2017 cutoff. Therefore, it’s almost certain that the language used by the FCC means “a radio device legal to transmit on FRS and any other subpart except 15”.

  2. “ Ironically, it was a few boot-licking sycophants within the ham community that pushed for this rule change. Often, people jealously guard their own privileges and want to deny privileges to others who are not in their elite clique. This is essentially a Country Club Members mentality.”

    This is perhaps the most telling statement I have read on any blog in a very long time. From Judas to the snitch neighbors that cooperated with the Stasi, it has been proven repeatedly that the biggest threat often comes from those closest to us.

    1. As an ARRL Volunteer Examiner I take offence to the “Country Club mentality” statement.

      To receive a Technician Class licence it costs around $15 (licence good for LIFE renewable every 10 years for free) and taking a test that proves you know the reason the FCC issues a licence and how to operate without interfering with other operators.

      This doesn’t require a special handshake or pledging to a fraternity

      Anyone that has listened to a CB in the last 40 years can see why Ham radio operators “jealously guard” their own privileges.

      Many HAMS have several thousands of dollars invested in equipment and many hours spent in public service. The argument that unregulated radios should be in the hands of unlicensed operators is just as valid as saying you should be able to give your 8 year old a walkie talkie that operates on the frequencies assigned to the Fire Department, EMS, or Commercial Airline frequencies.

      Do us all a favor and read the documentation used for studying for a licence. It will explain the the reason HAMS can operate on the frequencies assigned is to maintain proficiency for operations in case of emergencies.

  3. Also for little more is similar more rugged imho UV82 & uv82 triband. And a BFF3? which is a UV5R triband. These add 220mhz ham band for $8 more or so. Have had good results with several bf5r and uv82s for years. You can also get USB chargers and lighter chargers on ebay.., A USB charger and a 10w solar phone charger should keep you gg. Got Renology 10w charger on ebay for 20 bucks

  4. Also available are battery replacements that use 6-AA batteries inserted into a plastic case made to fit the radio. These fit the UV-5R and any of the other models that use the same casing, like the BF-F8 8 watt.
    I have found the radios to be fantastic for the price, although they are NOT all-weather and should be treated accordingly. The batteries and chargers, however, can be a bit spotty in quality. The AA packs don’t have the amp hours of the full packs but you can extend the useful life of the radios with Eneloop AA batteries and a solar charger.

  5. Ironically, it was a few boot-licking sycophants within the ham community that pushed for this rule change. Often, people jealously guard their own privileges and want to deny privileges to others who are not in their elite clique. This is essentially a Country Club Members mentality.

    This is where I have disagree. CB radios needed a license many years back but CB radios were sold everywhere when they became the “In Thing”. Those frequencies were destroyed by rude and crude people jamming the air waves. I do not agree with the ruling for the Baofeng radios but I do not want the Ham radio frequencies to become like the CB channels. An unlicensed person can buy a Ham radio. The radios can legally be used to listen but not to speak unless there is a threat to life.

    1. @Jed — I don’t think the argument is that getting a ham ticket is the privilege being guarded. Being able to afford to get into ham is what is being guarded. They don’t want a kid who mows lawns to be able to get a ham ticket and get on the air with $50. They want to limit the hobby to people who can afford a $200 Icom (or even better, only the people who can afford $1500 for a HF rig and acoutremon.)

      1. The reason for the Baofeng and any others that put Amateur Radio frequencies in HT’s (Walkie Talkies) and are being band are that people buy the radios and either don’t read all the instructions or ignore them. All radio manuals say you need a license to operate on some of the frequencies. Almost all of the FRS radios that are being sold right now have GMRS frequencies that a license is required for. I have taught emergency FRS radio use and 95% of those that brought their own radios to the class didn’t know that they needed a license to use the GMRS. They had been using it all along and thought that since it was part of their radio that it was allowed. So with the Ham frequencies in those little HT’s it becomes a problem because the users think that they can use those frequencies because they are in their radio. The low cost of the Baofengs puts those radios out there by the truck loads. Every Ham I know has one or more of them and a lot of others that are not Hams. Those that are not Hams don’t care if it’s legal or not, the frequencies are in their radios and they are going to use them.

        1. I don’t use those frequencies. I am not licensed and I have no need to. Just because people have the capability doesn’t mean they are going to. Does everyone drive around going 100+ MPH?

      2. The HAM Frequency bands need the protection. Many parents treat the Baofeng like walkie talkies for their children. In places like NJ kids are making it very difficult to use the Wide area repeater net
        works. This has been an issue since the Baofengs showed up on Amazon and similar sites.

  6. FYI, Also there are frequencies that are used under the Business Radio Service bands. GMRS frequencies end at the 462.7250 – 467.7250 range. The BRS starts at 462.7375 frequency and up and are very accessible on the Baofeng radio. Low power and no license required on some frequencies. (industrial use) For example: 463.700 – 464.825 – 463.725 – 463.750 – 463.775 – 463.800 – 463.825 – 463.850 – 463.875 – 463.900 – 463.925 – 463.950 – 463.975 – 463.225 – 463.250 – 463.275 – 463.300 – 463.325 – 463.350 – 463.375 – 463.400 – 463.425 – 463.450 – 463.475 – 463.500 – 463.525 – 463.550 – 463.575 – 463.600 – 463.625 – 463.650 – 463.675 just to name a few.

    1. To Marck,

      Looks like my post with a link didn’t make it on the blog. Look up Eric’s Big List of Intinerant Frequencies. You’ll see the gap starting at 462.125 Mhz. Thanks for your Frequ’s. It’s good know the EW terrian a bit better.

  7. I think I’ll stand up and receive your slings and arrows …

    While I am not one who looks to government to answer ANY question, I understand why the licensed amateurs triggered an FCC crackdown on radios combining unlicensed and licensed operations.

    Bad actors destroyed CB airwaves. They are rapidly polluting other unlicensed airwaves ruining them for civil and practical users. The low hurdle that a Technician license puts in place keeps out the lazy, casual and thoughtless operators.

    With nobody defending any segment of the two-way radio spectrum, civil, practical and tactical radio becomes increasingly difficult to have.

  8. The numerous Chinese manufacturers of dual-band radios will not fold up tents and quit the ham radio market. We are likely to lose the cross-band function in new radios, but affordable 2-meters will keep on crossing the Pacific.

    Of course the alternative is to provide 2-meter to licensed hams only and allow those to have other bands built in.

  9. That’s not what the rule means.

    The rule means that radios that are dual use ( called FRS/GMRS on their packaging ) can no longer be sold as part 95 approved devices. Instead, a radio will have to be made to conform to either the FRS or the GMRS rules alone – no more combination radios. The packaging should also be making very clear which service the radio is intended for and if a license is required.

    Under the old rules, combo FRS/GMRS radios were legal to manufacture and sell, leaving it up to the user to figure out which rule they’re to be used under, depending on which channel and power setting they used. If you didn’t have a license, you could only use them on FRS channels 1-14 and low ( FRS ) power levels. Licensed GMRS users could use all 22 channels and high power. However, since the radios came with license details in small print ( if they included them at all ) and the radio allowed unrestricted access to all channels at high power by default, few if any users bothered to conform to the rules. The update should make it more clear to consumers which radios they should be buying and if they need to buy a license.

    This has been in place since sometime in 2017 when the new part 95 rules were passed, though implementation was delayed until September ’19 to give manufacturers time to update their product lines and let retailers clear their supply chains. Look for new radios and/or packaging soon and good deals on remaining stock as we get closer to September. Motorola already sells the T800 which is not only FRS compliant under the new rules, but also can do short data bursts to send text like messages or location information, something else newly legal under the 2017 part 95 update.

    Other than the specifically-designed-for GMRS and MURS radios ( the GMRS-V1 and the MURS-V1 ) all the rest of the Baofeng radios have never been part 95 accepted and so have never been legal to use on GMRS, though if a radio is type accepted for part 90 its emissions should be compliant with GMRS. Many licensed users use type 90 radios reprogrammed for GMRS.

    The Baofeng UV-5R and other model radios, when they have an FCC ID, are tested and approved under part 90 for commercial radios and will continue to be sold for use in commercial service or for amateur service, where no FCC type approval is needed. If a radio bears no FCC ID, it’s not legal for sale in the USA because it hasn’t been tested to comply with spurious emissions and other technical aspects of the transmitter.

    Baofeng radios will continue to be sold in the USA, both their type 95 approved radios (honestly, if you want a GMRS or MURS radio, get one of these. They’re good, type approved and require zero programming to use on their respective services ) and their part 90 commercial/amateur radios as well. There may be a crackdown on stores selling knockoff radios or foreign market only radios that have no FCC ID, but I’m not losing any sleep over that. Those radios have been illegal to sell here since they were released.

    So, don’t panic, people. Your Baofeng radios will remain on sale for amateur or commercial radio use just like before, though they may be restricted to amateur radio band limits by default. They can be opened back up with the [CHIRP] programming software [an a PC, and a special cable].

  10. Not all Hams are nice. And some are elitist types who impose their views, and make a practice of protecting their kingdom. This kind is use to getting their way, and can be found in any group of people. They use the rules to their advantage, and sometimes bend, or make up the rules. It about ruling their kingdom. And this type can be a ‘radio snob’, and believe they know all. I built my shack for the price of one of their radios. Some of these guys are money bags, and believe they should have undue influence.

    At one time in my life, I carried a $2,500 state of the art Motorola as part of my job. I have more time on the radio than most Hams. Now I am happy with the lowly Boafeng. I understand it limitations, but it works for my purpose. Why not let the user choose?

  11. JWR, thank you for posting alerts like this one. I just ordered another pair of the UV-82’s, using your link to your amazon. I appreciate this daily blog which provides new content every day of the week. This is by far the best survival blog on the net today.

  12. <>

    BF-R3:
    These are indeed alternatives that are arguably a better value.

    The BF-R3:
    If one has standardized on the UV5R platform, then the BF-R3 might be added into the mix without as much trouble. The 3800Ma battery alone makes it a bargain, and if one can’t afford to get into the long range 6 meter game, then the 1.25 Meter band is the next best choice for getting off the beaten path that is accessible to the now ubiquitous Baofeng class. 1.25 Meter is usually ‘dead space’ in the tactical sense, and the real sense. Chop down a cheeep Tram 1185 mag mount antenna, and you’ll likely have the whole band to yourself. As a bonus, range would be similar to 2 meters.

    UV-82:
    Although these are only pictures, the earpiece itself may be indicative of a over all better build quality. The PTT button is easier to find. If I did not already Baofengs, and did not live in a world full of Baofengs, then standardizing on this radio might be as good, or better choice. Baofengs are now as ubiquitous as the AR-15, making interchangabilty of mags and parts an advantage.

    UV-82 Long Range:
    One needs to double the wattage to see and hear an increase in signal strength, and 8 watts falls short of 10 watt. It might be a gain of about 1.5+ Dbd, but through a short antenna, there is virtually no difference in the real world. However, put 8 watts through a yagi or moxon, and then the radio gets even more interesting. Of course I’d have to give up $10 bucks, or one half of one UV5R to get it.

    Conclusion:
    Whether I was a Baofeng Boy or NOT, the BF-R3 would be the most interesting, and significant improvement to my shack. A Tech license is good on 1.25 Meters. With a 5 element or easier yet to build, a 6 element OWA yagi (duck duck goit) one can make, or order custom from Arrow Antennas, this 4 watt, 1.25 Meter radio, would have an ERP (effective radiated power) of around 15 watts when mounted 1/2 wave length high. What can one do with 15 watts? Just about all you’ll need. Most PRC radios are low powered for a good reason. If you want an easy to build directional antenna, try doing a Moxon.

    TB out

  13. “ Ironically, it was a few boot-licking sycophants within the ham community that pushed for this rule change. Often, people jealously guard their own privileges and want to deny privileges to others who are not in their elite clique. This is essentially a Country Club Members mentality.”

    This was nothing of the sort. This was an attempt by ham operators to keep ham radio from becoming CB. It wasn’t to keep hams from being able to use FRS, but to keep FRS users from using the ham bands. Repeaters are already INFESTED with unlicensed “kerchunkers” who seem to get great pleasure from disrupting the repeaters’ use by licensed hams. In my area, there’s also been a BIG infiltration of Mexicans who, in usual fashion, come in, take over, and expect everyone to bow to their will.

    No… in this rare instance, I fully disagree with you on this one, JWR…

    1. @Tom, I am not trying to be argumentative. I am just wondering how banning dual band radios like this will help in your situation. There are plenty of cheap radios which will transmit on the Ham bands. This ruling will simply prevent violators from transmitting on both UHF and VHF from the same radio. It will not prevent “kerchunkers” as described in your post. When a nation becomes lawless, by definition, nobody will open the laws.

      It sounds to me like the FCC should be pursuing these violators as is their purview.

      1. The ruling doesn’t prevent transmitting on both VHF and UHF. There are plenty of VHF/UHF dual banders out there. The ruling prevents radios from transmitting on both ham bands and non-ham (FRS and the like) bands. Right now, it’s too easy for people to buy a $35.00 Baofeng to ostensibly use on FRS, and then start playing around with its ham band capabilities. Too many of the people who do this end up getting onto ham repeaters to cause hate and discontent… just like they do on CB. Technically, as a ham, I think it’s great that I can use one radio for ham and FRS. Unfortunately, as usual, a few bad apples ruined it for all…

        No, this won’t solve the problem entirely. It’ll just make it “less easy” for kerchunkers to enter the game…

        …Unfortunately, also as usual, the alphabet agency that’s supposed to be dealing with the kerchunkers and the Mexicans is doing a lot better at taking our money than doing what they’re paid to do… just like they do with CB…

  14. So what does that mean for a guy like me? I am both GMRS and Amateur Radio licensed. Why should I not be able to purchase this radio? Also, what stops the normal public from picking up a TH-F6 and transmitting on licensed bands? You don’t need a license to buy it. All of this sounds like a force of hand because some asshole elitists don’t like the radios… and this is why I have given up on this hobby.

  15. @Eric – Bingo! That is exactly my point to Tom. This ruling does nothing to address the real problem.

    The FCC is just another unelected (dare I say unconstitutional?) body which is not directly answerable to the people. We can expect much more of this if we don’t get our house in order.

  16. My question is why would the FCC give a ‘notice’ it was going to ban the sale of a radio that was beneficial to its owner? They don’t think you should be able to ‘take care’ of yourself?

  17. FYI: The only legal use for these radios is use on the ham bands by a licensed ham. Even someone licensed for the amateur radio service or the GMRS service cannot legally use these radios on FRS, GMRS, or MURS.

  18. Don’t blame it on the hams.
    If you think hams have any influence with the FCC you’re kidding yourself.

    Blame it on a few idiots that program in Police and Fire frequencies and like to play games.

    Public Safety has the FCC’s complete attention, they get results. Maybe not good results, but they get action.

    1. A simple search would show that your negative comments on Baofengs are still there.

      For example:
      2018/10/08 at 11:48 am

      and

      2018/09/27 at 2:02 pm

      When I remove or disallow a post going up, it is generally because someone made a personal attack. Please refrain from making any further comments disparaging people, or you will be banned from commenting in SurvivalBlog. In essence: It is fine to attack the quality control or design of Baofengs in a comment, but it is NOT okay to attack PEOPLE. Calling someone an idiot is not acceptable behavior.

  19. So… if I were to buy chicom radios… which do you suggest? Is there an upside to getting the UV82 over the other uv5r etc? I want durable and I want several. Don’t have the money for several kenwoods…

  20. I am concerned and upset that you and many others advocate the purchase and stockpiling of radios that need quite a bit of training to use.You need a license to operate on the ham bands, and you will not be able, legally, to practice or train with them without a license. It’s really not hard to get the license. Look up a ham radio club in your area and they will be happy to help you. If you really think you can just pick them up when a crisis happens, you are very wrong.

    1. Oh, yeah, it’s super hard to read the manual and punch in some numbers during a crisis. Absolutely impossible. I had to go through such intensive training to get my Technician license, it should absolutely be held close to the chest. Operating in the Ham bands is a gift from the gods that should not be diminished by the unwashed, uneducated masses.

      Bro, I bothered to read my Technician guidebook all the way through the night before the test and almost wish I hadn’t spent the time on it, as I damn near passed the General with no study. Spending a few hours on the internet will give you 90% of the practical usage of a programmable radio, learning enough to not break your radio on the wrong resistance antenna and how to manipulate radio signal across cars or diagnose reception issues.

      Power to the people, man. The government saying ‘you’re using light wrong’ when it’s not interfering with emergency services is kinda bulls**t. I just want to be able to hook in to everyone’s walkie-talkie’s on one transmit set while calling my friends on 2meter. Such a crime, I know, I should feel bad for wanting capability.

  21. 09/09/19: Still thousands of these available on Amazon for $29, for next day delivery, so I guess the “panic,” or the size of the group that would want these was greatly overestimated.

    That said, I have four, and use them all the time, a great value for the money.

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