Registering Your Drone: A Young man holds a drone in the air before takeoff

How To Register Your New Drone With the FAA

You just got a brand new drone and you’re bubbling with excitemnet to take to the skies. However, before you do that you have to go online and register your drone with the FAA.

This article will cover some of the basics and give you a little bit of background info about how the process developed.

A Little Bit of Background…

In 2015, The FAA (United States Federal Aviation Administration) made a law that requires ALL UAV Operators ( Hobbyists & Commercial) to register their drone.

It might seem strange that a ‘toy’ needs to be registered as a vehicle with the Feds, but the FAA is encouraging the public not to think of drones as toys. They’re aircraft that come with risk and responsibility. Unregistered drone users can be fined anywhere from $27,500 for civil cases, and up to $250,000 for criminal incidents with the possibility of 3 years in jail. It is unlikely you will ever see a fine that large given the history of penalties the last several years, but the FAA has great reasons for the rule.

A New Industry

The drone industry is effectively brand new, and not only has it been hard to regulate, but it has also been even harder to track down offenders. By personally identifying the remote aircraft, the FAA is attempting to prevent noncompliant drone operations. Registering is incredibly easy, though. Some important information to know is:

  • It only costs $5 for you to register.
    You must be 13 years of age or older, otherwise, a parent or legal guardian will need to register it for you.
    If your drone happens to weigh 55 lbs or more, you will be completing a separate registration process that we will discuss below.
    There is only one website on which you can register.

The last bullet point is important. With the industry being so new there has been a lot of misinformation and scammers creating websites that claim to register for you only to cheat you out of $150.

Registering Online

There is only one website that can officially register your drone, which can be found at the URL: https://faadronezone.faa.gov/. Drones weighing up to 55 lbs can be registered using the website option. This will be the majority of people, and in order to do so you will need several things:

  • Your email address, which will also be your login name
  • Credit or debit card to complete the payment of $5
  • A physical and mailing address (If different from physical)
  • The manufacturer and model of your drone

The $5 will be per aircraft and the registration is valid for 3 years.

What Happens After You Register?

During the registration process, you will be creating an account for yourself with a profile that contains your full name, physical/mailing address, and registration type (hobbyist or commercial). You will also be agreeing to the FAA’s Safety Guidelines which is incredibly important to understand prior to flying.

Upon finishing your registration the FAA will provide you with a unique 10-digit registration number. As of February 25, 2019, the FAA enacted changes to Drone-ID Marking Rule, which requires small unmanned aircraft owners to display the unique identifier assigned by the FAA on an external surface of the aircraft.

To do this, use a label maker or durable tape to ensure the registration number can be presented in the field if any authorized figure were to request your identification. The most likely scenario for being apprehended would be flying your drone in restricted airspace, or over private property. Knowing the rules will help you greatly in avoiding citations and fines.

We also recommend printing the certificate confirming your registration as further documentation you can present in the field. Here’s a full list of what you should have on you if you’re stopped by officials for a ramp check.

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