"Do I have to register my drone?". This is one of the most popular questions among those who bought such a device for the first time. If it weighs more than 0.55 pounds then you definitely need it. All devices must be registered with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), whether you have them for personal or commercial use.
Drones are very popular these days. These uncrewed aircraft systems (UAS) are widely used by photographers, videographers, and racing enthusiasts who often pair them with FPV goggles. They can be useful for both professional, commercial projects and entertainment needs.
Depending on the purpose, there are commercial and recreational drones. These two types differ in technical characteristics and capabilities. Plus, device type also affects FAA drone registration conditions. The official website contains a User Identification Tool so you can find out which drone you have and then start registering.
Recreational drone. It weighs less than 55 pounds and is not intended to be used in commercial or in any other financial form. For example, if you are interested in drone photography and only want to take pictures for personal use without selling them, then your device would be considered recreational. In this case, you must register it at the FAA DroneZone. Besides, the free online Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST) is required to qualify for flying sessions.
Commercial drones are used to earn money with their help. For example, these can be specialized professional drones for filming. Even if your device weighs less than 55 pounds but you plan to use it for business purposes, then you need to register it as a commercial unit at the FAA DroneZone. Also, all pilots must pass a paid exam (part 107 Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems test) before they start flying commercially. This test is held at a specific FAA testing site.
Commercial users must also obtain a remote pilot certificate and a separate drone operator license in addition to drone registration. This requirement is mandatory whether you are a pro drone pilot and earn money with it or use the device as part of your main profession (for example, a wedding or event photographer and videographer).
Owners of heavier drones (over 0.55 pounds) who do not plan to use the device commercially can register under the Exception for Recreational Flyers category at the FAA website.
To register drone with FAA and fly it in the United States, you must be a US citizen or a legal permanent resident on other conditions. Otherwise, you receive the certificate of ownership instead of US aircraft registration.
Moreover, the person must be 13 years old at least. If the drone belongs to a child under this age, it must be registered by a representative over the age of 13.
In addition to the general registration procedure, it is important to consider that each state may have separate rules and requirements. Therefore, you need to figure out how to register drone with FAA according to your local specifics. For example, in Minnesota, commercial users must register with the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
First of all, go to the FAA website. Find the appropriate form and fill it out. You need to provide the following information:
To date, drone registration costs $5. The resulting certificate will be valid for three years. You will need to carry it with you every time you plan to use the device. You may also show a digital version of the certificate, but it must be easily accessible.
In addition to the certificate, a registration number will be assigned to your device. Write it with a permanent marker on the drone so that it is always seen when needed. The registration number must be written on the external surface of your device. Make sure people can easily read it. If you have a drone insurance document, we recommend taking it with you.
According to federal law, you have to show your drone registration certificate (if you must have one) when asked by a Federal, State, or local law enforcement officer. Some regulatory and criminal penalties are provided due to the lack of a relevant document. For example, civil penalties up to $27,500 can be issued by the FAA. In the case of criminal penalties, you will have to pay up to $250,000 in fines. In some cases, imprisonment for up to 3 years is provided.
Besides, you should be aware that it is not always possible to launch aircrafts everywhere and whenever they want. It concerns, first of all, the height. According to the FAA, all drones are not allowed to fly above 400 pounds. You cannot fly drones near government buildings, airports, and other controlled airspaces either.
To check if you can operate a drone at a specific location and time, you can use the UAS Facility Map service and the B4UFLY app. Keep in mind that sometimes you will need to obtain permission to fly in advance. If you are using aircraft that does not require registration, you can also find information in these specialized services regarding whether you can fly drones in a particular area. Besides, such info is often posted on websites of parks and other public places. Drone owners also face criminal penalties for violations.