Drone Registration

Drone Registration – What you need to know

Over the past couple of years, various Drone pilots have done some pretty stupid stuff, to the point of getting the wrong kind of attention from the FAA.  For example, irresponsible drone pilots have:

This is  just a few of many examples that have the FAA and many other US Citizens concerned.  This doesn’t even include the numerous police reports made around the US by people being spied on or “peeked on” by Drones with cameras and GoPros.

On December 21, the FAA announced that any drone weighing in excess of .54 pounds, and flown outside must be registered on their new website.  The penalty for not registering is possible civil and criminal penalties.  The FAA may assess civil penalties up to $27,500 and/or criminal penalties of up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment for up to three years.  So yea, they are serious about this.

So far, over 180,000 drone owners have registered.

Drone’s were one of the hottest selling gifts this past holiday season.  Will the new registration process impact sales?  Will people skip buying drones due to the new $5.00 registration fee?  Only time will tell.

The good news though, is if you are a new drone owner, if you register before January 21st, registration is free.

Drone Registration Rules

The registration rules are pretty simple and straight forward:

  • Any UAS (Unmanned Aircraft System) .55 pounds or over, must be registered (Yes, a Drone is a UAS).
  • Registered owners must 13 years old or older.  If less than 13, a parent or guardian must register.
  • Only drones flown outdoors must be registered.  If you fly indoors, there is no need register.

The good news is that you only need to register once, meaning, you have more than one drone, only one registration is required.

If you are using your drone commercially (other than hobby or recreation), if it weighs over 55lbs, or you plan to fly it outside the United States, you must register using this process instead.

One other important point – If your drone, out of the box, weighs less than .55lbs but you add a camera that makes it at or over .55lbs, it has to be registered.   It’s total weight, not shipping or manufacturers weight.

>> Check out our Top Quadcopters list, where we’ve included each quadcopters weight to see if yours needs to be registered or not.<<

We still recommend you weight yours individually, as weights can vary from the manufacturer.

What to do once you’ve registered

Once you’ve registered, your registration is valid for 3 years.  You will also receive a unique registration number.  This number must be marked on all drones you own.

You can read more about how to properly label your drone here.  The key point is that the registration number must be clearly visible from the outside (you can’t put it inside the battery compartment for example).

After you complete the registration process, a certificate of registration, containing your unique registration number, will be available for download.  Additional, a formal certificate of registration will be mailed to you at your registration address.

When flying your drone, you must have your certificate of registration on you.

Follow the Drone Safety Guidance Rules

Registered or not, you must follow the FAA Safety Guidance Rules.  When you register, these will be shown to you, and you must agree to comply with them to complete your registration:

  • You will fly below 400 feet.
  • You will fly within visual line of sight (meaning you can’t use FPV goggles and fly out of your physical line of site)
  • You will comply with FAA airspace requirements, meaning avoid airports, no-fly zones, etc.
  • You will not fly directly over people
  • You will not fly over stadiums or events
  • You will not fly over emergency response efforts, such as fires, car accidents, etc.
  • You will not fly near aircraft or airports
  • You will not fly under the influence (i.e. no flying if you’re drunk)

Why is Drone Registration Necessary?

Federal law requires registration for all aircraft. Congress has defined “aircraft” to include drones, regardless of whether they are operated by hobbyists or not.  According to the FAA, drone registration helps the FAA to ensure safety – for the drone pilot, other people on the ground, and for manned aircraft.

The FAA also states that “UAS pose new security and privacy challenges and must be traceable in the event of an incident. It will also help enable the return of your UAS should it be lost”.

Wrapping Up

We’ll be keeping an eye on this whole registration process, and keep you updated.  Monitoring the impacts of this new requirement will be interesting to say the least.

Will it impact sales?  How many drone operators be caught and fined for flying unregistered?  How will this effect safety?  Will it accomplish it’s stated goals?

Too early to tell of course, but the next few months should prove very interesting for the Drone industry.

>>> Check out our Top Quadcopters list, where we’ve included each quadcopters weight to see if yours needs to be registered or not <<<