RA 246 - Citizen's Band Radio Information Sheet
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Citizen's Band Radio Information Sheet

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A) Licensing

Introduction

This information sheet briefly describes the Role of the Radiocommunications Agency and outlines the regulations, which govern use of CB Radio.

The installation and use of all Citizens' Band Radio (CB) transceivers must be covered by a licence issued on behalf of the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. This Section explains how to obtain a licence, how much it costs and who is covered by it.

Who are we?

The Agency is an Executive Agency of the Department of Trade and Industry and is responsible for the management of that part of the radio spectrum used for civil purposes within the UK. It is also responsible for representing UK radio interests nationally and internationally.

Why manage radio?

Radio signals, which are used by millions of people world-wide, do not stop at national borders. Without adequate planning and management, the radio signals from different users and services would interfere with each other and, above a certain level of interference, radio would become useless as a reliable and effective means of communication. The Agency plans and manages spectrum to ensure that the appropriate kind of spectrum is available to those who need it, that it is used efficiently and with as little interference as possible. In order to ensure the optimum spectrum use for the benefit of all users the RA:

What is CB Radio

CB is a short range radio service for both hobby and business use. It is designed to be used without the need to have any technical qualifications and not to cause interference to other radio users. Hence, only radios meeting certain specific requirements may be used. Antennas need to conform to clause 4 of the licence.

To use CB, you either need to hold a licence yourself or be directly supervised by a licence holder. However, we do offer exemptions to Scouts, Girl Guides and OAP networks, etc.

Do I need a CB licence?

Unless you are using CB radio under the direct supervision of another CB licence-holder, you will need to take out a CB licence in your own name. Please note that children under the age of 14 years cannot hold a CB licence.

How much does a CB licence cost?

The licence currently costs 15 per year, free to those 21 years of age and younger and from 1 April 2001 free to those aged 75 years and older, no matter how many sets or channels you use.

How do I get a CB licence?

Since 1992, CB licensing has been centralised and application forms are no longer available 'over the counter' from Post Offices.

To apply for a CB licence, a completed application form must be sent to the Radio Licensing Centre. (see Section D. Contact points) together with a cheque or postal order for 15 made payable to: "Radio Licensing Centre".

How long does a licence run for?

A CB licence runs for one year from the date of issue. You will be sent a renewal notice six weeks before the expiry date and, if necessary, a final notice.

Is anyone else covered by my licence?

Since 1 November 1999, the licence has been amended so that to use CB, you either need to hold a licence yourself or be directly supervised by a licence holder. Direct supervision means that the licence holder should be in the general proximity of the non-licence holder, for example, in the same room. We recognise that there are groups that previously benefited from the general supervision facility. The Agency is prepared to consider applications for exemptions to the direct supervision requirement. The following are examples of areas that may be considered:

  1. Employees

    Equipment must be operated on, or in the immediate vicinity of, the licensee's premises, for example on a farm. Any vehicles leaving the licensee's premises would not be covered by his/her general supervision and the driver would need to be licensed separately. The CB licence covers the licensee to install and use CB. It does not cover the installation of equipment to be used by anyone.

    Minicab firms must ensure that all drivers are individually licensed. Should a driver leave, a new driver must be licensed separately. Taxi firms who operate CB radio have no special rights and must obey all conditions of the CB licence. In particular, they are not allowed to block channels and should not advertise their service over the air.

  2. Non-employees

    This covers any person who the licensee has control and authority over. The licensee must be willing to take full legal responsibility for any person supervised. For example, members of the same family living at the same postal address, may be covered by one licence even if operating away from home.

  3. Old people's networks

    This applies to official OAP networks with a superintendent (or equivalent) who uses CB radio to contact the OAPs in the network at certain times of the day to check they are all right. This does not apply in cases where a CB club has provided a free CB set to an OAP for use in an emergency or for general communication purposes.

Where exemption is agreed, a Notice of Variation (to be attached to your licence) will be issued. Please contact the Agency for further information. Contact details are given in Section D.

Can I get a refund if I stop using CB?

No, refunds are not offered for CB licences. The licence is not offered on a 'time basis' or to cover specific items of equipment.

Do I need a licence for 'Walkie Talkies'?

Yes, if they operate within the CB bands. Even low power hand-held CB radios must be covered by a licence.

Note: Operation of walkie talkies at 49 MHz is licence exempt, however, the walkie talkies must conform to specific equipment approval requirements.

Do I need a licence for each set of CB frequencies?

No, the CB licence allows you to operate on either or both of the sets of CB frequencies.

Is 934 MHz no longer available for CB use?

The Performance Specification MPT 1321 to which 934 MHz CB transceivers were manufactured was withdrawn in 1988. No new sets were manufactured from that date and no sets were imported. From 1 January 1999 the use of 934 MHz CB equipment has been prohibited.

What about the 27/81 UK service?

MPT 1320 was withdrawn in March 1995 and replaced by a new Specification MPT 1382. All equipment type-approved to MPT 1320 may continue to be used for its foreseeable useful life.

Do I need a licence just to receive CB?

Yes, if a transmitter-receiver (transceiver) is used but no, if a receiver only is used (i.e. apparatus inherently incapable of transmission).

Is the fee reduced for anyone?

Since 1 December 1999, licences have been free to those individuals who are under 21 at the time of renewal or issue and from 1 April 2001 to those aged 75 or over.

Other CB information

The Agency publishes information sheets on various topics free of charge.

The results of the Agency's 1995 survey clearly showed that the majority of licence holders supported the idea of a national organisation for CB. As a result of this a working group of licence holders was set up at the 1995 Open Forum held in Nottingham and the British Citizens' Band Confederation (BCBC) has now been launched (see Section D, Contact points).

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B) Equipment

Specific equipment requirements that must be met

The following services operate in the UK:

  1. ETS 300 135
    MPT 1333 (CEPT) - Withdrawn
    (CEPT PR27GB) / (PR27GB)
    This is commonly known as the European "EU" Band
    26.965 MHz - 27.405 MHz

  2. MPT 1382/MPT 1320
    MPT 1320 - Withdrawn
    27.60125 MHz - 27.99125 MHz
    (PR 27/94) / (27/81-UK) This is commonly known as the "UK" Band

  3. MPT 1382 (December 1997)
    26.965 MHz - 27.405 MHz (CEPT) or ("EU")
    27.60125 MHz - 27.99125 MHz
    or "UK" (PR 27/97)
    This equipment provides the option for any combination of channels from the "EU" or "UK" bands.

As indicated above there are two sets of frequency bands allocated to Citizens' Band Radio (CB) in the UK. This Section gives details on aspects of operation and types of equipment that can be used together with some information on ancillary equipment.

The R&TTE Directive, the UK Radio Interface Requirements.

Under the Radio Equipment and Telecommunications Terminal Equipment Regulations (SI 2000:730), which implements the EU Directive 99/5/EC (the R&TTE Directive), it is a legal requirement that all radio equipment (with certain specific exceptions) meets certain essential requirements. It is the responsibility of any person who places CB radio equipment on the market or takes it into service to ensure that the requirements of the R&TTE Directive are met, that it is marked with the CE marking together with the "alert" symbol, and that a written declaration of conformity has been drawn up for it together with information for the user on the intended use of the equipment.

The R&TTE Directive replaces the old type approval regime and comes into force on 8 April 2000; prior to this time it is still a legal requirement for CB radio equipment to be type approved under section 84 of the Telecommunications Act 1984. The R&TTE Directive also has a one year transition period during which, equipment already covered by a type approval may continue to be placed on the market and taken into service. No new type approvals will be issued after 7 April 2000. After 7 April 2001, only equipment that complies with the R&TTE Directive may be placed on the market, though equipment already type approved prior to 8 April 2000 may continue to be taken into service. Moreover, such equipment already taken into service would satisfy the terms of the licence.

In addition, it is the licensee's responsibility to ensure that the CB radio equipment meets the relevant UK Radio Interface Requirement (IR 2027). UK Radio Interface Requirements provide a high level description of spectrum use (frequency range, channel spacing, output power, where appropriate a technology to be used, licensing regime, etc). UK Radio Interface Requirements can be obtained from the Radiocommunications Agency, telephone: 020 7211 0502/0505 or e-mail: library@ra.gsi.gov.uk.

In summary, CB radio equipment that has already been type approved, and will necessarily comply with the relevant UK Radio Interface Requirement (IR 2027), may continue to be used. Such equipment will have been type approved to MPT 1320, MPT 1333, MPT 1382 and ETS 300 135. Please note that MPT 1320 and MPT 1333 have been withdrawn but equipment type approved to these specifications may continue to be used for the lifetime of the equipment.

Non-type approved equipment must be in conformance with the R&TTE Directive (U.K. R&TTE Regulations SI 2000:730).

Use of all CB radio equipment must comply with the relevant UK Radio Interface Requirement (IR 2027).

What is legal CB?

"Legal CB" refers to CB equipment in conformance with the above. A legal CB Station will in addition, use an antenna (aerial) that conforms with the restrictions contained in the CB licence and repeated in this Section.

How can I recognise legal CB equipment?

All legal CB radios bear a mark to show that they comply with the specifications. These are:

Can I use radios designed for more than one CB service?

Only radios type-approved to, or based on MPT 1382 (December 1997) (marked "PR27/97 - for use in UK only") may be used. These provide the option of any combination of channels from both the UK 27/81 and the CEPT frequencies. The use of any other combined equipment is strictly prohibited.

Can I use converted equipment?

No, you may not use equipment that has been altered in any way. This includes radios that have been fitted with proprietary conversion boards. Converted equipment will not meet the specification and can cause interference to other radio users.

Which modes of modulation may be used?

Only Frequency (FM) or Phase (PM) Modulation may be used. The use of Amplitude Modulation (AM) or Single Sideband (SSB) in the UK is strictly prohibited. However, the Agency is currently undertaking extensive compatibility studies following the publication of a European AM/SSB standard. This standard has not been adopted in the UK.

Can I use packet radio?

No. The use of data (other than signals of less than 21/2 seconds in length which are intended to call up any other CB station) or signals of less than 1 second in length which are intended to identify a CB station (or to mark the end of a message sent by a CB station) is strictly prohibited. However, the agency is currently considering a proposal to allow data (on a limited basis).

Are callsigns available?

Yes! Since 1 November 1999 all licences have been issued with callsigns. The format of CB callsigns is "2 + letter + digit + 2 letters".

*N.B. Whilst we encourage their use, it is not mandatory and it will be up to you to decide whether or not to use your allocated callsign.

Which frequencies may be used?

The channels available for CB are shown on pages 6 & 7. No other frequencies can be used.

What is the maximum power allowed?

The maximum transmitter RF carrier power output allowed is 4 Watts and the antenna is restricted as described below. (In the case of equipment with an integral antenna, the maximum effective radiated carrier power is limited to 4W).

Can I use ancillary equipment?

The use of power microphones, echo boxes and speech processors is not illegal but neither is it recommended - they offer no advantages when used with FM/PM and can cause interference. The microphone is subject to conformance requirements and hence must not be replaced with a different type of microphone. Locking push-to-talk microphones are not allowed.

One piece of equipment that is now legal is a "chat-back unit"; this is felt to be of particular benefit to the blind. It allows the use of a voice simulator to inform users which channel they are operating on. Use of an antenna receive pre-amplifier for 27 MHz is prohibited however, you may use a mechanical antenna switch. You may also use meters to set up a station (see overleaf). The use of power amplifiers (burners, boots etc.) is strictly prohibited.

Can I use a VSWR power meter?

Yes, you can use a Voltage Standing Wave Radio (VSWR) meter and an output power meter to set up a station, but they must be removed before the station is used as they may cause interference if left in place.

Antennas for 27 MHz CB

The following types of antenna are legal:

  1. A single, vertical, omnidirectional monopole, the driven element of which does not exceed 6.95m in length or 55mm in diameter, including any loading coils and associated circuitry and casings, but excluding any plates, radial wires or rods designed to act as a ground plane or counterpoise, which are located at the physical base of the antenna; and

  2. A single, vertical, omnidirectional dipole antenna not exceeding 5.55m in length.

Please note that the use of a loop, yagi or any type of beam antenna is prohibited.

Are there any height restrictions for CB antennas?

No, apart from local planning restrictions and a requirement that within 1 km of airfields the overall height of the antenna plus mast must be less than 15m.

CB Channels used in the UK

The performance Specification MPT 1333 was withdrawn in January 1995 and no equipment type approved to that Specification is permitted to be manufactured or imported from that date.

Users of equipment type approved to either MPT 1320 or MPT 1333 may continue to use their equipment for its foreseeable useful life.

MPT 1382 (December 1997) has been revised to permit any combination of the existing 40 UK channels (MPT 1382) and the 40 CEPT channels (ETS 300 135). This allows for up to a maximum of 80 channels within one set. Equipment based on this revised specification will be strictly for use in the UK only.

Channel

Frequencies (MHz) based on MPT 1382/1320 "UK Channels"

Frequencies (MHz) based on ETS 300 135/MPT 1333 "CEPT/EU Channels"

1 27.60125 26.965
2 27.61125 26.975
3 27.62125 26.985
4 27.63125 27.005
5 27.64125 27.015
6 27.65125 27.025
7 27.66125 27.035
8 27.67125 27.055
9 27.68125 27.065
10 27.69125 27.075
11 27.70125 27.085
12 27.71125 27.105
13 27.72125 27.115
14 27.73125 27.125
15 27.74125 27.135
16 27.75125 27.155
17 27.76125 27.165
18 27.77125 27.175
19 27.78125 27.185
20 27.79125 27.205
21 27.80125 27.215
22 27.81125 27.225
23 27.82125 27.255
24 27.83125 27.235
25 27.84125 27.245
26 27.85125 27.265
27 27.86125 27.275
28 27.87125 27.285
29 27.88125 27.295
30 27.89125 27.305
31 27.90125 27.315
32 27.91125 27.325
33 27.92125 27.335
34 27.93125 27.345
35 27.94125 27.355
36 27.95125 27.365
37 27.96125 27.375
38 27.97125 27.385
39 27.98125 27.395
40 27.99125 27.405

MPT 1382 (December 1997)

Frequency (MHz)

Channel Number

Frequency (MHz)

Channel Number

26.965 EU 1 27.60125 UK 1
26.975 EU 2 27.61125 UK 2
26.985 EU 3 27.62125 UK 3
27.005 EU 4 27.63125 UK 4
27.015 EU 5 27.64125 UK 5
27.025 EU 6 27.65125 UK 6
27.035 EU 7 27.66125 UK 7
27.055 EU 8 27.67125 UK 8
27.065 EU 9 27.68125 UK 9
27.075 EU 10 27.69125 UK 10
27.085 EU 11 27.70125 UK 11
27.105 EU 12 27.71125 UK 12
27.115 EU 13 27.72125 UK 13
27.125 EU 14 27.73125 UK 14
27.135 EU 15 27.74125 UK 15
27.155 EU 16 27.75125 UK 16
27.165 EU 17 27.76125 UK 17
27.175 EU 18 27.77125 UK 18
27.185 EU 19 27.78125 UK 19
27.205 EU 20 27.79125 UK 20
27.215 EU 21 27.80125 UK 21
27.225 EU 22 27.81125 UK 22
27.255 EU 23 27.82125 UK 23
27.235 EU 24 27.83125 UK 24
27.245 EU 25 27.84125 UK 25
27.265 EU 26 27.85125 UK 26
27.275 EU 27 27.86125 UK 27
27.285 EU 28 27.87125 UK 28
27.295 EU 29 27.88125 UK 29
27.305 EU 30 27.89125 UK 30
27.315 EU 31 27.90125 UK 31
27.325 EU 32 27.91125 UK 32
27.335 EU 33 27.92125 UK 33
27.345 EU 34 27.93125 UK 34
27.355 EU 35 27.94125 UK 35
27.365 EU 36 27.95125 UK 36
27.375 EU 37 27.96125 UK 37
27.385 EU 38 27.97125 UK 38
27.395 EU 39 27.98125 UK 39
27.405 EU 40 27.99125 UK 40

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C) Additional information

Can I use my CB radio abroad?

You will not be permitted to use CB equipment abroad, which incorporates the UK channels (27.60125 MHz - 27.99125 MHz) i.e. UK channels 1 - 40.

Use of CB equipment abroad, with EU channels only, as denoted in and based on ETS 300 135 is likely to be permitted, but you must check with the administration of the country concerned whether it may be used and whether any conditions apply.

When operating abroad, licensees must comply with the conditions of the appropriate licence of the country which they are visiting. Any breach of the licence conditions of the country visited could be regarded as a breach of a licensee's UK licence as well as being an offence in the country visited. Licensees should ensure that they carry with them their current validation document.

Can CB licensees from CEPT countries operate in the UK?

Yes, CB licencees from the following countries may operate in the UK under the terms of their licence and under the conditions as detailed below:

Country

Symbol

Albania AL
Austria A
Belgium B
Bosnia and Herzegovina BH
Bulgaria BG
Croatia HR
Cyprus CY
Czech Republic CZ
Denmark DK
Estonia EST
Finland FI
France F
Germany D
Greece GR
Hungary H
Iceland IS
Ireland IRL
Italy I
Latvia LV
Liechtenstein FL
Lithuania LT
Luxembourg L
Malta M
Moldova MLD
Monaco MC
Netherlands NL
Norway N
Poland PL
Portugal P
Romania RO
Russian Federation
San Marino RSM
Slovakia SK
Slovenia SLO
Spain E
Sweden S
Switzerland CH
The Former Yugoslav
Republic of Macedonia
Turkey TR
United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland GB
Vatican City SCV

Schedule 2 of the WT (Citizens' Band and Amateur Apparatus) (Various Provisions) Order 1988 provides for equipment approved in certain countries and marked with the appropriate country symbol to be used in the UK. A list of legal markings is included below.

Legal CB equipment conforming to MPT 1333 or ETS 300 135 which has been approved in a country as listed, will be marked as:

CEPT PR 27 + the symbol indicating original country where type-approval occurred.

e.g. equipment type-approved in France will be marked:

CEPT PR 27 F

Additionally, CB radio equipment that complies with the R&TTE Directive and also conforms with the relevant UK Radio Interface Requirement (IR 2027), is permitted.

Code of Practice

The operating conditions of the CB service have been deliberately made simple with few restrictions. Although it has always been made clear that no-one has preferential rights at any time or place or on any channel, a recommended voluntary Code of Practice has been agreed by CB User Groups and is printed in the CB Radio Licence Terms, Provisions and Limitations Booklet. Among other things the Code asks that priority be given to calls for help, and in particular recommends that Channel 9 be left clear for emergencies and assistance only. All operators are asked to follow the Code and so promote good operating practice within the CB service.

Emergency Monitoring and Channel 9

The CB Radio Code of Practice contained in the Citizens' Band Radio Licence Terms, Provisions and Limitations Booklet recom-mends that all CB radio operators follow operating convention and use Channel 9 only for emergencies and assistance.

Is Channel 9 a "legal" emergency channel?

The Code of Practice recommends that the channel be left clear for emergencies but this does not constitute a legal requirement and is not a licence condition.

Why isn't Channel 9 protected by law from abuse?

Volunteers do valuable work by giving up their time to monitor Channel 9 for emergency calls and their frustration when the channel is misused, is understandable. However, legal protection for the channel is not an easy remedy for channel abuse, because it would have to involve effective checking and enforcement action. The cost of providing resources on a large enough scale to do this would be difficult to justify and would put up significantly the cost of the CB service.

Do I have to register with the Agency to become a monitor?

No, any group or individual licensee can monitor Channel 9, or indeed, any other channel. No permission is needed from the Agency, and the Agency does not maintain a register of monitors.

Should I register with the emergency services?

This is not necessary but you may like to contact the emergency services to let them know you are there (some like to keep a list of known CB monitors in their area) and to get any advice they may wish to give you about the passing of emergency calls.

It is also important to get in touch with the local police if you wish to help in incidents such as searches for lost children. Sometimes the emergency services can be hindered rather than helped when people turn up on the scene of an accident or search and it is therefore, very important to make sure that your efforts are properly directed.

Are monitors exempted from licence restrictions?

No, a CB monitor, like any other user, must comply with the conditions of the CB licence at all times. For example, it is an offence to use equipment which is not permitted in the licence and there are no exceptions to this.

Some operators are under the impression that large antennas can be installed for use in an emergency or for reception only, but this is not the case. Similarly, the use of transmitter power levels greater than 4 Watts is an offence.

In short, Channel 9 monitoring is a useful part of CB, but it must be carried out within the normal rules of the service.

Do I have to be a member of a team or monitoring organisation?

Many Channel 9 monitors do belong to a local or national monitoring group and this brings the benefits of collective experience and good training. It is not necessary to join such groups, however, and you are quite free to monitor on your own if you wish to do so.

Do the emergency services monitor Channel 9?

Generally no, some monitoring may be done locally by services such as police traffic controls but this is not usually on a regular basis. The emergency services certainly do not have sufficient resources to undertake monitoring on anything but a small and selective scale. CB is no alternative to the maritime emergency service, for example.

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D) Contact points

  1. Applications for new licences:

    Radio Licensing Centre
    PO Box 884
    Bristol BS99 5LF

    Tel: 0117 925 8333
    Minicom: 0117 921 9550

    In order to comply with the requirements of the Criminal Procedures and Investigations Act (CPI) 1996, all telephone calls to the Radio Licensing Centre are recorded.


  2. Licence renewals / General enquiries concerning individual licences

    Radio Licensing Centre
    PO Box 885
    Bristol BS99 5LG

    Tel: 0117 925 8333
    Minicom: 0117 921 9550

    In order to comply with the requirements of the Criminal Procedures and Investigations Act (CPI) 1996, all telephone calls to the Radio Licensing Centre are recorded.


  3. Enquiries on licensing conditions and policyCitizens' Band Services

    Radiocommunications Agency
    Wyndham House
    189 Marsh Wall
    London
    E14 9SX

    Tel: 020 7211 0159
    Tel: 020 7211 0160
    Tel: 020 7211 0161 (Answerphone)
    Fax: 020 7211 0228
    E-mail: amateurcb@ra.gsi.gov.uk.

  4. For further information about radio matters contact the Agency Switchboard / 24 hour Enquiry point service

    Tel: 020 7211 0502/0505
    Fax: 020 7211 0507

  5. The Radiocommunications Agency website can be accessed on: www.radio.gov.uk

  6. BCBC's (British Citizens' Band Confederation)
    P.O. Box 5826
    Basildon
    Essex
    SS16 5FQ

    Head of Regional Services
    P.O. Box 5888
    Melton Mowbray
    Leicestershire
    LE13 0WR

    BCBC'S website can be accessed on: www.bcbc.cwc.net

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Further Reading

RA 0 Current List of Agency Publications
RA 2 Information on Licence Details, Enquiry Points and Organisational Structure
RA 67 The Radio Users Guide to the Law
RA 169 Receive Only Radio - Scanners etc
RA 206 Addresses of the RA Local District Offices
RA 240 CB Licence Application Form
RA 246 Information on CB
RA 344 Abuse of CB Radio
RA 354 The Radiocommunications Agency and its Role in Managing the Radio Spectrum

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RA 246 (Rev 8)
MARCH 2001
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