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Licence requirements

Why do radio transmitters have to comply with licences?

Radio licences are used nationally and internationally to manage the interaction between radio services and to limit harmful interference to receivers. All radio transmissions in New Zealand are authorised by licences issued in accordance with the Radiocommunications Act 1989.



Radio Spectrum Management (RSM) is responsible for ensuring that licensing compliance requirements are met.

We achieve this by:

  • conducting audits of radio transmitters to ensure that the transmissions are in accordance with the terms and conditions of a licence
  • following up non-compliance by issuing Warning Notices and Infringements Notices, or prosecution proceedings as appropriate.

RSM's compliance programme is based on:

  • Radiocommunication Act 1989
  • Radiocommunications Regulations 2001
  • Radiocommunications Notices and Codes of Practice prescribed in the New Zealand Gazette.


What is a licence?

A licence is a record in the Register of Radio Frequencies (the Register) authorising the transmission of radio waves in accordance with technical conditions such as:

  • frequency
  • location
  • bandwidth
  • modulation characteristics
  • power
  • equipment performance standards.

The licence may also specify particular operating conditions such as the purpose or service for which it is intended. Some general conditions are applied to all licences issued in New Zealand (Schedule 1, Radiocommunications Regulations 2001).


What risks arise from not having a licence, or not complying with the conditions shown on a licence?

Licences are about managing the risk of interference to other radio communications services and users. Radio services in New Zealand are planned on the basis of licence information recorded in the Register.

If a transmission is not recorded in the Register, or is outside the conditions shown on a licence in the Register, there is a risk of interference to existing or new licensed services.

Apart from the costs or risks to life and property caused by interference, there can also be significant costs involved in the investigation, location and resolution of interference.


How does RSM encourage and enforce compliance with the licensing framework?

RSM encourages intending radio users to work with approved radio engineers (AREs) and certifiers (ARCs) from the radio industry to plan and obtain suitable licences for their desired service.

The Register is a system that provides the necessary information to enable the planning and creation of licences.

Licence holders can also check their licence information, update their user details and pay fees through the Register.

The RSM auditing programme extends to checking samples of new and existing radio services to ensure that correct details are maintained in the Register.

A condition of licences is that authorised RSM staff be provided access to radio transmitters to make such checks.

The Regulations provide for infringement notices (with infringement fees) to be issued for offences or for prosecution action to be taken through the Courts.

Suppliers of transmitting equipment are licensed by RSM and are audited to ensure that the radio equipment meets all compliance requirements, such as licences and standards, before being supplied.

Suppliers and licensees each have responsibility for ensuring that transmitters comply with licence conditions, such as frequency and power.

Read more about compliance information for Land Mobile radio telephones [191 KB PDF]

How to ensure your licence complies

Find out about compliance requirements for holders of radio and spectrum licences and radio transmitter users.

Read more about How to ensure your licence complies

Licence audits

Radio Spectrum Management may audit any person, company or organisation transmitting radio waves. Find out more about this process and why it occurs.

Read more about Licence audits

Last updated 26 November 2015