The Mazza Law Group, P.C.
2790 W. College Ave., Suite 800
State College, PA 16801 March 10, 2016
(814) 237-6255

Drone Registration or License Required?

Is drone registration required for the drone I got for Christmas? Do I need a license to fly a drone?

Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), or drones as they are often called, are increasingly available online and on store shelves. Prospective operators—from consumers to businesses—want to fly and fly safely, but many don’t realize that, just because you can easily acquire a UAS, doesn’t mean you can fly it anywhere, or for any purpose.

Drones weighing more than 0.55 pounds (250 grams)[1] but less than 55 pounds must be registered.  In order to complete drone registration you must be at least 13 years old, and a U.S. Citizen or lawful permanent resident.[2]  Registration can be done online at http://www.faa.gov/uas/registration/ , costs $5.00 and lasts three years.  If your drone weighs more than 55 pounds (takeoff weight with all attachments) you must use a paper registration system.  Forms are available at: http://www.faa.gov/licenses_certificates/aircraft_certification/aircraft_registry/

Your FAA drone registration number must be place on all drones before they are flown outside (even on your own property), and the registration may help you get your drone back if it gets lost.  Drones flown for recreational use must remain within the visual line-of-sight (VLOS) of the remote pilot in command or a visual observer, and they may be flown only in daylight, within 30 minutes of official sunrise or sunset.

So far “flying licenses” or pilot certifications are not required to fly a hobby drone.  Penalties for flying unregistered drones or using drones for commercial purposes may result in regulatory and criminal sanctions. The FAA may assess civil penalties up to $27,500. Criminal penalties include fines of up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment for up to three years.

If you have a question about registering your unmanned aircraft system (drone) call the experienced lawyers at the Mazza Law Group, P.C. today.

[1] Not sure how much 250 grams actually is?  Ask your friendly neighborhood cook (or drug dealer).  From the cooks: a cup of bread flour is about 150 grams, a cup of table sugar is about 200 grams.  So, the answer is not much.  If you bought a hobby drone for less than $100, it probably weighs less than .55 lbs.  Check the box or weigh it before you fly!

[2] If you are not a U.S. Citizen or lawful permanent resident consult with one of the immigration lawyers at the Mazza Law Group, P.C. for further information about living in or visiting the United States.

Drone Registration or License Required? was last modified: December 27th, 2016 by Joseph Swartz