I'm checking out cheap (~$100) mobile radios on Amazon, and often times there's a question asking about FFC Part 90 certification.

As an amateur radio operator looking to use a radio for amateur/emergency uses, would I benefit from procuring a radio with Part 90 certifications, be hampered by it, or would it not apply?

I suspect that Part 90 would hamper amateur use because of the mandatory lockout feature. For example, the Powerwerx DB-750X requires an extra kit to fully unlock the radios capabilities ($40 at this time).


Part 90 certification is required for radios used in the USA in the land mobile services - often called commercial radio. No such certification is required for the amateur radio service. The closest we come to certification is Part 15 for our receivers and Part 97 for our linear amplifiers - but only if in either case they are commercially produced and sold as a finished product.

You may, however, benefit from Part 90 certification as it relates to frequency stability and the purity of the transmitter output. But as you already stated, you often lose out as it relates to ease of programming and other features desirable to amateurs. More often than not, a Part 90 radio is more expensive than a comparable amateur radio transceiver.

If you are in a situation where you need access to commercial radio communications, then a Part 90 radio is handy as you can use it for land mobile and amateur radio through proper programming. You cannot, however, legally use a non Part 90 amateur radio transceiver for land mobile services.

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    $\begingroup$ When you say commercial radio communications, does that imply communicating with first responders in a state of emergency, or something else? $\endgroup$ – YetAnotherRandomUser Dec 3 '17 at 18:34
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    $\begingroup$ @YetAnotherRandomUser Part 90 also covers Public Safety (first responder) radios. $\endgroup$ – Glenn W9IQ Dec 3 '17 at 19:25
  • $\begingroup$ Here is a useful document talking to the Part 90 standards: vertexstandard.com/lmr/resources/narrowband/… $\endgroup$ – SDsolar Dec 4 '17 at 3:50

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