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Which Drones Need to be Registered with the FAA?

There was a time when a person wanting to buy a drone had to worry about registering the drone with the Federal Aviation Administration. Imagine buying a drone to take an awesome aerial photo of your home only to get in trouble with the FAA?

It was a major deterrent for some buyers.

But it really wasn’t a big issue because people were still buying drones like crazy. If you’ve yet to buy yours, it’s important to first understand which drones need to be registered with the FAA.

Understanding the FFA’s Definition of an Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)

UAS are unmanned systems that are operated without the direct intervention of a human inside or on the aircraft. Drones are unmanned aircraft in this sense, so if you’re wondering where you can legally fly a drone, you have a legitimate question that needs to be answered.
But just because you have a drone and it meets the definition of a UAS, this doesn’t mean that you need to register your drone just yet.

The general criteria when determining if a drone needs to be registered or not is:

  • Weight of 0.55 pounds or higher

Now, if you have a massive drone, one that is not likely to be sold commercially, that weighs more than 55 pounds, you’ll need to go through a different registration process (we cover this in greater detail in the section below).

So, for example, let’s say you’ve looked at our list of the best drones, and you’ve purchased the Drone X Pro.

Would you need to register your drone with the FAA?

If it weighs more than 0.55 pounds, yes.

A lot of drones will exceed this weight limit, so you’ll need to register the drone with the FAA.

How to Register a Drone

Okay, now that you know that you’ll need to register a drone, how do you go about it? It’s a simple process, but the FAA has sent out a warning to avoid scams. There are bogus companies stating that they’ll help you register your drone.

Avoid these companies at all costs.

You can register your drone yourself.

FAADroneZone is the FFA’s official site for registration, and the price is just $5 for 3 years. It’s a really cheap process, and it ensures that you’ll be flying your drone within the guidelines of the law.

Note: Drones that weigh over 55 pounds must have a paper-based registration submitted to the FAA.

Otherwise, the entire process is done online without any need to send in a paper document.

FFADroneZone is the only place to register your drone, so remember to avoid those scams that are charging $150 or more for a person to operate their drone.

What If I’m Flying My Drone Indoors Only? Do I Still Need to Register My Drone?

No. The FAA makes it clear that their only jurisdiction and right to enforce drone usage is for outdoor usage. If a drone is flown inside only, there’s no reason to register it.

Just remember to fly safely indoors. There’s no need to fly into crowds or in a mall where a lot of people are present. Flying in your own home or warehouse may be allowed, but in public, you’re posing a risk to a person’s safety by flying indoors.

I’m a Foreign National, Do I Need to Register My Drone with the FAA?

If you own a drone and are flying it in Europe or another part of the world, the FAA has no say over what you do. The FAA is only able to enforce laws within the United States. But let’s say that you come to the United States on vacation.

I mean, it would be really awesome to take footage at the Grand Canyon or at one of the amazing waterfalls or beaches in the United States.

But in this case, you’re within the FFA’s jurisdiction.

What the FFA suggests, in this case, is that you register your drone using the web-based registration linked above under section 336 aircraft.

This will ensure that the FAA will consider your certification as proof of ownership. And what this means is that foreign nationals will have to go through a similar registration process as U.S. nationals.

It’s a fast and easy process.

If you’re flying the drone commercially, you’ll need to register with the UAS in your home country and then go through the Department of Transportation to register the drone.

Tips to Fly Safely

Now, just because you’ve registered your drone doesn’t mean that you can fly anywhere you want. The main goal of the FAA is to make sure that airspace is safe. Imagine if drones were able to fly near an airport.

We would have people flying drones to take footage of planes landing and taking off all of the time.

And then we would have drones hitting planes, getting stuck in engines – it would be a nightmare.

The FAA makes sure that none of this mayhem is allowed to persist.

Instead, the FAA recommends:

  • Ensuring that you do not fly your drone in airspace restricted areas.
  • Respecting others’ privacy (no flying near homes or windows to spy on people)
  • Keeping your drone at 400 feet or below
  • Never flying near large groups or people
  • Avoiding flying near areas where an emergency is occurring, such as the California fires
  • Never flying near an airport or aircraft

These are common sense recommendations, and they ensure that you will fly your drone safely. You’re not allowed to fly when under the influence of alcohol or drugs either.

So, to wrap up, it’s always a good idea to register your drone with the FAA. While you may get away with flying without registration, it’s always better to stay within the guidelines of the FAA’s rules.

There’s no need to break the law when registration is so simple and straightforward.
You’ll be required to register if your drone weighs more than 0.55 pounds. Most drones, besides some mini drones will weigh this much. Registration is an online process, and it costs just $5 to register for a period of 3 years.

Even foreign nationals that want to fly their drone in the United States will want to register their drones.

January 22, 2019

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Peter

Drones are our passion, and when we think of all of the possibilities that they offer, we know that these devices are going to change the world. We’ve created this site with the intent of helping you, consumers and enthusiasts, find a drone that best meets your needs.

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