CB Radio SSB Numbers, Callsigns, Licensing and Regulations

Do CB Radio Clubs still exist in Canada? Absolutely they do! I'm often asked how you get a CB Radio Call Sign for SSB DX? Unlike Amateur Ham Radio, that requires extensive study and a passing grade on an exam, there are no exams or courses to operate a CB Radio. So how does one get a CB Radio Callsign? 

Step 1: Pick a "handle" to use primarily on AM. A handle can be anything, but short and simple tends to work best.

Step 2: Listen to the QSOs on the air, especially on the SSB portion on the band (35-40, and most is on lower sideband, but not always) to get an idea of the flow, the lingo, and the overall nature of CB Radio communications.

Step 3: Choose a club to join. Some clubs have higher requirements than others. For example some will only scout for new members, where other clubs are generally open. A Club is usually pre-pended to the call sign. For example RC459 is Radio Canada, and 459 is the member ID.

Step 4: You can request to join the Facebook Group for Radio Canada DX International. While to club is open to most one does have to be a respectful and courteous operator, but no courses to study or exams to pass.

Step 5: Getting your "Numbers". Getting your Radio Canada CB Radio callsign numbers is quite simple. Check into the CB Radio Canada net. A CB Radio net is an on-air meet-up where stations take turns checking in and sending or receiving any messages, and getting updates about the club. Sunday, 8PM Pacific, Channel 40, LSB. The net is divided into sections, by geographic areas. When your area is called, call back to the net control station with your handle. Once the net control operator acknowledges your station introduce yourself, and request your numbers. It may take a round or two to be acknowledge, keep trying as you may double with another station. You also have the option of asking for a relay, and if another station can copy you, they will pass along your check-in.

Step 6: After you are assigned your numbers you may now call CQ with your new flashy Radio Canada DX International callsign! And be sure to join the Facebook group for important info about the club and weekly net reminders. 


While a license nor exam are not needed to operate a CB Radio station in Canada one must still be aware of the rules of the airwaves, and the "gentleman's" agreements that are in place to ensure that the 40 channels authorized for use can be shared amongst the entire population. Below is the guide offered by Industry Canada ISED to responsibly operate a CB Radio station in Canada. 

1. Purpose

This circular describes, in general terms, procedures, policies and general information concerning the General Radio Service (GRS).

2. Regulatory Requirement

The GRS is exempt from licensing. Radio Standards Specification, RSS-236, General Radio Service Equipment Operating in the Band 26.960 to 27.410 MHz (Citizens Band), prescribes the technical requirements applicable to radio apparatus operating in the GRS.

Radio standards, procedures and various official publications can be obtained on Industry Canada's Spectrum Management and Telecommunications website at http://ic.gc.ca/spectrum.

3. Background

The relatively low cost and simple operation of equipment used in the GRS in Canada, also known as the Citizen Band (CB), provides access to a radiocommunications medium that was previously unavailable to the general public. Originally, there were 23 channels. In 1977, 40 channel allocations were established in the 26.960 to 27.410 MHz frequency band. Prior to the late 1970s when synthesized CB radios were introduced, CB radios were controlled by plug-in quartz crystals and most CB radios only used amplitude modulation (AM).

4. GRS Equipment

4.1 General Operation

Prior to operating a GRS radio, it is important to learn its controls, accessories, other functions and which options are desirable or useful for your intended operations.

The basic building blocks of any GRS radio station are:

  • a transceiver, a combination transmitter and receiver, usually supplied with a microphone, power cord and mobile mounting bracket;
  • an antenna, used for the transmission and reception of GRS radio frequency signals;
  • a feed line, to connect the transceiver to the antenna; and
  • an electrical supply.

4.2 Industry Canada Certification Number and Label

The Industry Canada radio equipment certification number shall be permanently displayed on each transmitter, receiver, or inseparable combination thereof, as well as the applicant's name, manufacturer's name, trade name or brand name, and model number. This information shall be affixed in such a manner as to not be removable.

4.3 Amplitude Modulation (AM) or Single Sideband (SSB)

The terms AM and SSB describe two different methods of modulating sound impulses from a microphone onto the carrier signal produced by the transmitter.

4.4 Receiver Sensitivity, Selectivity and Stability

The three important characteristics of a good radio receiver are referred to as the "3 Ss": Sensitivity, Selectivity and Stability.

Sensitivity is the ability of the radio to receive very weak signals clearly. Selectivity is the ability to screen out signals from adjacent channels. A radio with good selectivity can reject a strong signal on an adjacent channel, allowing you to listen to a weak signal on the desired channel. Stability is the ability of the radio to stay on its operating frequency.


5. Antenna Structures

Industry Canada recognizes the importance of considering the potential impact of antennas and their supporting structures on the local surroundings. As such, it has instituted procedures outlined in Client Procedures Circular, Radiocommunication and Broadcasting Antenna Systems (CPC-2-0-03), as amended from time to time, for proponents of antenna systems to follow. Although radio station licences are not required for GRS stations, operators must ensure that they comply with all antenna siting requirements outlined in CPC-2-0-03.

5.1 Feed Lines

Coaxial cable should be used to connect the GRS radio to an antenna. The electrical characteristics of the cable should match those of both the transmitter output circuit and the GRS antenna. Type RG58/U is commonly used for mobile installations. RG8/U is best suited for permanent outdoor installations and where a longer length of coaxial cable is required.

Special connectors should be attached to the coaxial cable at each end. It is important to follow instructions carefully in order to assemble connectors properly. Coaxial cable may also be purchased with ready-made connections.

6. Going on the Air

It is the duty of the operator of a radio station to know the rules before going on the air.

GRS Licence or Certificate

Operators are not required to have an operator's certificate or radio station licence to operate GRS equipment, including any GRS model-control equipment.


Industry Canada no longer requires GRS operators to use an assigned call sign for identification.

Before You Transmit

Remember that anything said on a GRS radio can be easily overheard by others. GRS radio does not offer privacy.

Some Restrictions

Operators must, at all times and on all channels, give priority to emergency communications.

Industry Canada will not assign any channel for the private or exclusive use of any particular GRS station or group of stations. Some GRS clubs or individuals regularly monitor or use specific channels of their own choosing. No one has a right to declare that any such channel belongs to any group or individual, or to tell another user to vacate a channel on such grounds. Informal local arrangements, however, if made with the general consent of most users in the area - and not abused - may be useful in providing a meeting place for those sharing common interests.

For example:

  • Channel 9 should only be used for emergency communications, i.e. communications involving a real or imminent threat to the life or safety of any person, or the immediate protection of property.
  • Channel 11 is widely used as a calling channel.
  • Channels 13 and 23 are used for land and sea search and rescue operations.
  • Channel 19 is used in many areas as a road information channel.

Operators must share each channel with other users and must not wilfully interfere with conversations already under way. A good basic rule is "listen before you talk." Courtesy dictates that necessary communications should be given preference. Courteous operators will yield to those with messages to pass, information to share, questions to ask or other business to conduct. Many GRS operators use a procedure code to reduce air time on congested channels.

Subject to applicable laws or regulations, operators may operate a GRS station anywhere in Canada and the United States.

Operators may not operate a GRS station on any aircraft or vessel without permission of the appropriate aircraft or vessel officer.

The legal radio frequency (RF) power output limits for a GRS transmitter are:

  • 12 watts peak envelope power for single sideband;
  • 4 watts carrier power for other types of emissions.

Section 30 of the Radiocommunication Regulations states that a person may operate radio apparatus in respect of which a radio authorization has been issued only where the person complies with the terms and conditions of the authorization. For example, the use of a power amplifier capable of boosting the output power of a GRS transmitter is forbidden. These devices are also known as linear amplifiers, boots, linears, etc.

RSS-236 prescribes the minimum technical standards applicable to radio apparatus operating in the GRS. Technical requirements for remote control equipment are found in Radio Standards Specification 210 (RSS-210).

GRS stations must not be used:

  • in connection with any activity that is against federal laws, provincial laws or municipal bylaws;
  • to transmit abusive, obscene, indecent or profane words, language or meaning;
  • to interfere maliciously with the communications of another station;
  • to transmit music, whistling, sound effects or any material to amuse, entertain or attract attention;
  • to communicate with, or attempt to communicate with, a GRS beyond the normal coverage range of your station.

Any person, who knowingly transmits, or causes to be transmitted, any false or fraudulent distress signal, call or message is guilty of an offence under the Radiocommunication Act.


7. Handling an Emergency

Channel 9

GRS Channel 9 is reserved for communications involving emergencies, i.e. situations where something has happened, or is about to happen, that presents a threat to someone's property, personal safety or life. The reporting of road accidents, downed power lines, medical emergencies and fires are all examples of situations for which Channel 9 should be used. This, however, does not preclude passing emergency messages on other channels.

Emergency messages must be given priority over all other kinds of communications.

8. Radio Interference


In order to reduce interference, the Department recommends the following:

  • Before erecting a GRS antenna, remember the importance of good relations with your neighbours. The fact that you have an antenna in your backyard will make you automatically suspect in the minds of some if they experience any kind of interference.
  • Prior to transmitting, try to avoid interference complaints before they arise. Install your station carefully, keeping all connections well fitted. Use good grounding techniques for towers, antennas and GRS equipment. Try to keep both your radio and antenna as far as possible from neighbouring TV or FM antennas and places where hi-fi stereos and similar equipment are being used.
  • Conduct radio and TV reception checks in your own home. Operate your GRS set for brief test transmissions on a quiet channel while someone else checks TV sets in your house on all the channels. Repeat this procedure while transmitting on another GRS channel.
  • Operators must not make, or have someone else make, any internal modification to a certified GRS transmitter (technical acceptance certificate - TAC). Any such modification voids the Industry Canada certification of the radio apparatus.

Annex A: Phonetic Alphabet

People will understand you better if you pronounce your words clearly and slowly. Words of similar length, such as "care" and "pear," which contain the same vowel sounds, tend to sound alike.

When radio conditions are particularly difficult, or if an individual word or name is especially important, spell it out. For example, to get across an uncommon spelling of the surname "Smyth," say: "Surname Smyth. I spell: S-Sierra - M-Mike - Y-Yankee - T-Tango - H-Hotel." The following phonetic alphabet can be very useful.

A   Alfa
B   Bravo
C   Charlie
D   Delta
E   Echo
F   Foxtrot
G   Golf
H   Hotel
I   India
J   Juliett
K   Kilo
L   Lima
M   Mike
N   November
O   Oscar
P   Papa
Q   Quebec
R   Romeo
S   Sierra
T   Tango
U   Uniform
V   Victor
W   Whiskey
X   X-ray
Y   Yankee
Z   Zulu

Typical Procedure 10 Codes

  • 10-1   Receiving poorly.
  • 10-2   Receiving well.
  • 10-3   Stop transmitting.
  • 10-4    OK, message received (acknowledgment).
  • 10-5    Relay message.
  • 10-6    Busy, please standby (unless urgent).
  • 10-7    Out of service, leaving air.
  • 10-8    In service, subject to call.
  • 10-9    Repeat message.
  • 10-10   Transmission completed, standing by.
  • 10-11   Talking too quickly.
  • 10-12   Visitors (non-CBers) present.
  • 10-13   Advise weather and road conditions.
  • 10-16   Make pick-up at...
  • 10-17   Urgent business.
  • 10-18   Anything for us? (Any assignment?)
  • 10-19   Nothing for you, return to base or station.
  • 10-20   My location is...
  • 10-21   Call by telephone or get in touch (but not by radio).
  • 10-22   Report in person to...
  • 10-23   Standby.
  • 10-24   Completed last assignment.
  • 10-25   Can you contact...
  • 10-26   Disregard last message.
  • 10-27   I am moving to channel...
  • 10-28   Identify your station.
  • 10-29   Time is up for contact.
  • 10-30   Does not conform to Industry Canada rules.
  • 10-32   I will give you a radio check.
  • 10-33   EMERGENCY at this station.
  • 10-34   Trouble at this station, help needed.
  • 10-35   Confidential information which cannot be discussed on radio.
  • 10-36   Correct time is...
  • 10-37   Wrecker needed at...
  • 10-38   Ambulance needed at...
  • 10-39   Your message delivered.
  • 10-41   Moving to another channel. Please tune to channel...
  • 10-42   Traffic accident at...
  • 10-43   Traffic tie-up at...
  • 10-44   I have a message for you...
  • 10-45   All units within range, please report (or identify).
  • 10-46   Assist motorist.
  • 10-50   Break channel.
  • 10-60   What is the next message number?
  • 10-62   Unable to copy, use telephone.
  • 10-63   Network directed to...
  • 10-64   Network clear.
  • 10-65   Awaiting next message (or assignment).
  • 10-67   All units comply.
  • 10-70   Fire at...
  • 10-71   Proceed with transmission in sequence.
  • 10-73   Speed trap at...
  • 10-75   You are causing interference.
  • 10-77   Negative contact.
  • 10-81   Reserve hotel room at...
  • 10-82   Reserve room for...
  • 10-84   My telephone number is...
  • 10-85   My address is...
  • 10-89   Radio repairman needed at...
  • 10-90   I have TVI (television interference).
  • 10-91   Talk closer to microphone.
  • 10-92   Your transmission is out of adjustment.
  • 10-93   Check my frequency on this channel.
  • 10-94   Please give me a long count.
  • 10-95   Transmit dead carrier for 5 seconds.
  • 10-99    Mission completed, all units secure.
  • 10-100   Time out for rest room.
  • 10-200   Police needed at...

Annex B: General Radio Service (GRS) CB Radio Channels

Channel Megahertz
1 26.965
2 26.975
3 26.985
4 27.005 - Common 4X4 Channel
5 27.015
6 27.025
7 27.035
8 27.055
9 27.065 - Emergency Use
10 27.075 - Regional Roads
11 27.085
12 27.105
13 27.115 - Marine / RV Traffic
14 27.125 - Walkie Talkies
15 27.135
16 27.155
17 27.165 - N/S Truck Traffic
18 27.175
19 27.185 - E/W Truck Traffic *** Most Common Channel ***
20 27.205
21 27.215 - Regional Roads
22 27.225
23 27.255
24 27.235
25 27.245
26 27.265
27 27.275
28 27.285
29 27.295
30 27.305
31 27.315
32 27.325
33 27.335
34 27.345
35 27.355 - Common SSB (LSB)
36 27.365 - Common SSB (LSB)
37 27.375 - Common SSB (LSB)
38 27.385 - Common SSB (LSB DX Calling)
39 27.395 - Common SSB (LSB)
40 27.405 - Common SSB (LSB)


Radio Standards Specification 236 (RSS-236) prescribes the minimum technical standards applicable to radio apparatus operating in the GRS / CB Radio.




CB Radio SSB Numbers, Callsigns, Licensing and Regulations

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