How to register your recreational drone with the FAA

How to register your recreational drone with the FAA

Drone technology has dramatically changed the way we capture aerial images and videography in recent years. Before drone technology became more accessible, helicopters and boom cranes were the only way to achieve overheard shots, even in Hollywood.

Today, just about anyone can purchase a drone and capture incredible images from above. With so many new drones in the area, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has taken steps to ensure some measure of control over unmanned aircraft. The FAA requires that most drones, with very few exceptions, must be registered.


Why do I need to register my drone? 

The primary reason why the FAA requires you to register your drone is safety and liability. Anyone can buy and register a drone, without any formal training or instruction. Thankfully, drones are fairly user friendly, but mistakes happen. A crash or collision can cause serious damage. If a drone hits a person, an animal, or a plane, or otherwise causes harm, the FAA can use registration information to determine who is liable.


Are there any exceptions?

The only type of drone that doesn’t need to be registered is a very small drone that is only used for recreational purposes. If your drone weighs under 0.55 pounds or 250 grams, and you’re not planning to use it to make money, you don’t need to register your drone.

That’s because a drone of that size is unlikely to cause much damage or injury if something goes awry. However, it’s worth noting that the size of your drone does not excuse you from liability if something does go wrong. It simply means that the drone may not need to be registered.


How do I register my drone with the FAA?

  1. Gather your materials. The FAA will ask for your name, address, email address, and phone number, as well as the make, model, and serial number of your drone. You will also need a credit or debit card to pay the $5 registration fee.
  2. Submit your application. You can choose to register online or by mail. If your drone weighs 55 pounds or more, you must register by mail.
  3. Keep your materials with you. You will get a registration certification and registration number from the FAA. You need to label your drone with that registration number using a permanent marker or label. You can also engrave the number onto your drone. Additionally, you must keep your FAA registration certificate with you whenever you fly your drone.
  4. Renew your registration. Your drone registration is valid for three years. If you want to continue flying your drone at the end of that three-year period, you need to re-register.


What happens if I don’t register my drone?

If you are caught flying an unregistered drone, you will likely have to pay a fine and may be faced with other penalties as well. Depending on the situation, you could be forced to pay anywhere from $27,500 to $250,000. You may also be faced with up to three years of imprisonment.


Do I also need a license to fly my registered drone?

You don’t need a license for a recreational drone. A recreational drone is any drone used for personal enjoyment, such as taking pictures of your family on vacation or capturing a video of a friend skiing. In other words, if you’re just flying your drone for fun, no license is required.

You also may not need a license if you use your drone in a volunteer capacity. For example, you might use your drone to take aerial photos of a remote area and donate those images to a nonprofit planning a restoration project in that area. Under those circumstances, you don’t need a license. You just need to register your drone under the Exception for Recreational Flyers.

However, if you plan to use your drone to make money, you do need a commercial license. So if you’re planning to sell your photography, do inspections, or perform any other paid work, you need a Part 107 license.


What drone should I buy? 

There are countless drones available on the market, with a wide range of features and at virtually any price point. It can be overwhelming to choose the right drone for your budget and your needs.

Droneyard is dedicated to finding and offering the best drones at every price point, so you don’t have to sift through dozens of product pages to find the right drone for you. Every drone we offer is carefully chosen based on our high standards for quality, price, and ease of operation, so you can trust that everything you buy from us will meet your needs.

See our curated selection of drones >

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