My Shure wireless system works great in the United States. Can I use it in other countries?
You can, but if caught you might be fined, have your wireless system confiscated, arrested, or imprisoned depending on the country...maybe all four! This is not an exaggerated statement.
Why? I am just an innocent musician!
Each country has unique regulations regarding the wireless transmission of signals and these regulations are drafted, implemented, and modified by each country's government, not by an international organization. These regulations apply to TV signals, AM and FM radio signals, two-way radio communication, and even your Shure wireless system. Violations of these regulations, no matter how insignificant, are taken quite seriously by the government agencies that enforce them.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates wireless transmission within the borders of the U.S. The FCC has decreed that wireless microphones may operate in the same frequency bands as U.S. VHF TV channels 7 - 13 and U.S. UHF TV channels 14 - 51. Wireless microphones are accepted in these frequency bands as long as they meet FCC specifications and do not cause interference to any TV signal. If the wireless microphone does cause interference (highly unlikely), it must cease operation.
Other countries have similar agencies and within each country's borders these agencies decide how to employ the frequency bands. In certain Middle Eastern countries, the VHF frequency band for U.S. TV channel 7 (174 - 180 MHz) is set aside for military communications. So, a wireless microphone in this frequency band that operates legally in the U.S. would not be warmly welcomed in any of these Middle Eastern countries. In Japan, all VHF wireless microphones are illegal.
In most European countries, you will also need to apply for a license. A license in Germany, for example, costs approximately $120. In France you don't need a license but, depending on the type of user you are, you can only use certain frequencies.
How serious are the penalties?
In England, the fines can range up to $75,000. Imprisonment is a remote possibility, but the law does allow it. In Germany, a major concert event by a world renowned pop artist was shut down by the authorities five minutes before the show began. Over 10,000 attendees were sent home as the show was cancelled.
What can I do? My world tour starts next month!
The best solution is to rent a wireless system in each country that you perform. This relieves you of the responsibility to make certain the wireless system is legal. Plus if you have problems with the wireless, you have a local source for repair or replacement. Deciding to operate your U.S. wireless microphone system or wireless PSM in other countries is a decision only you can make, but Shure strongly recommends that you leave the wireless in the United States.