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Beware of 2-way radios from overseas

Two-way radios – also known as walkie talkies – are common and easily bought online.

But sometimes these products can be dodgy. Your radio may seem to work properly, but could be stopping a critical service doing its job.

Dodgy radios are often cheap and sold online with pre-programmed frequencies. The supplier may not know if you’re allowed to operate on these frequencies in Australia.

Report a product if you think it is unsafe.

Before you buy a radio

Make sure you can trust the supplier

Before an Australian supplier can sell a 2-way radio, they must meet:

  • technical performance standards
  • labelling and record keeping requirements in the Radiocommunications Equipment (General) Rules 2021 and Radiocommunications (Electromagnetic Compatibility) Standard 2017).

Take care when buying online. Make sure the seller is reputable.

Check reviews from other customers. Check whether the supplier is on the national database. If they are, it shows they have followed our rules.


Check the supplier location 

If the supplier is overseas, it is likely the radio does not use the right frequency for Australia.


Is the deal too good to be true? 

If the radio is far cheaper than other brands, the supplier may not have tested the radio to our technical standards.


Ensure the radio complies Australian rules 

Ask the supplier if it does. Be wary if they do not answer you.


Check the radio has a label with the Regulatory Compliance Mark (RCM) 

The RCM shows that a product is safe to supply to the Australian market.


Do you have the right radiocommunications licence?

You can’t operate a 2-way radio without an appropriate licence. Check you understand and meet your radiocommunications licensing requirements.

If you use a radio that breaks our rules, we may hold you responsible.

Consider all your options before buying a radio.

Renting a radio can be quick and easy. Rental companies make sure their radios comply with our rules.

A citizens band (CB) radio is an alternative to a 2-way radio. Anyone in Australia can use a CB radio that complies with Australian rules. (It might not suit you if you want commercial or private frequencies.)

If you break our rules

Your 2-way radio might seem to work well. 

But if it does not comply with our rules, you might be blocking critical services, such as the emergency call service.

If you're caught operating an unlicensed 2-way radio, the penalties can be serious. If found guilty, under the Radiocommunications Act 1992, you can face:

  • fines of up to $412,500
  • up to 2 years in prison. 

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