Over the past couple of years, various drone pilots have done some pretty stupid things, to the point of getting the wrong kind of attention from the FAA. For example, irresponsible drone pilots have:

  • Flown their drones too close to the President
  • Have almost hit manned aircraft
  • and Blocked Firefighters

It is just a few of many examples that have the FAA and many other US Citizens concerned. This does not even include the many police reports made around the US by people being spied on or “peeked on” by drones that follow you.

On December 21, the FAA announced that any drone weighing more than .54 pounds, and flown outside must be registered on their new website. The penalty for not registering is a possible civil and criminal penalties. The FAA might assess civil fines as much as $27,500 and criminal penalties of around $250,000 or imprisonment for about three years. So yea, they are serious about this.

So far, over 180,000 drone owners have registered.

Drone’s were one of the hottest selling gifts this past holiday season. Will the new registration process impact sales? Will people skip buying drones due to the $5.00 registration fee? Only time will tell.

Drone Registration Rules

The registration rules are pretty straightforward:

  • Any UAS (Unmanned Aircraft System) .55 pounds or over, must be registered (Yes, a Drone is a UAS).
  • Registered owners must 13 years old or older. If less than 13, a parent or guardian must register.
  • Only drones flown outdoors has to be registered. If you fly indoors, there is no need to register.

The good news is you only have to register one time, meaning, you have more than one drone, only one registration is required.

If you are using your drone commercially (other than a hobby or recreation), if it weighs over 55lbs, or you plan to fly it outside the United States, you must register using their website instead.

One other important point - If your drone, out of the box, weighs less than .55lbs but you add a camera that makes it at or over .55lbs, it has to be registered. It is total weight, not shipping or manufacturers weight.

We still recommend you weight yours individually, as weights can vary from the manufacturer.

What to Do Once You Have Registered

Once you have registered, your registration is valid for 3 years. You will also get a unique number. This number must be marked on all drones you own.

You can read more about how to correctly label your drone on the internet. The main point is that the registration number must be visible from the outside (you cannot put it inside the battery compartment for example).

After you complete the registration process, a certificate of registration, containing your unique registration number, will be available for download. Additionally, a formal certificate of registration will be mailed to you at your registration address.

When flying your drone, you must have your certificate of registration on you.

Follow the Drone Safety Guidance Rules

Registered or not, you must follow the FAA Safety Guidance Rules. When you register, these will be shown to you, and you must agree to comply with them to complete your registration:

  • You will fly below 400 feet.
  • You will fly within visual line of sight (meaning you cannot use FPV goggles and fly out of your physical line of site).
  • You will comply with FAA airspace requirements, meaning avoid airports, no-fly zones, etc.
  • You will not fly directly over people.
  • You will not fly over stadiums or events.
  • You will not fly over emergency response efforts, such as fires, car accidents, etc.
  • You will not fly near aircraft or airports.
  • You will not fly under the influence (i.e. no flying if you are drunk).

Why is Drone Registration Necessary?

Federal law requires registration for all aircraft. Congress has defined “aircraft” to include drones, regardless of if they are controlled by hobbyists or not. According to the FAA, drone registration helps the FAA to ensure safety - for the drone pilot, other people on the ground, and for manned aircraft.

The FAA also states that “UAS pose new security and privacy challenges and must be traceable in the event of an incident. It will also help enable the return of your UAS should it be lost”.

Wrapping Up

We will keep an eye on this whole registration process and keep you updated. Monitoring the impacts of this new requirement will be interesting.

Will it impact sales? How be many drone operators caught and fined for flying unregistered? How will this affect safety? Will it accomplish its stated goals?

Too early to tell of course, but the next few months should prove very interesting for the drone industry.

Author's Bio: 

McClintock is the creator of MyDearDrone, a free community to learn everything from news, reviews, guides and much more about drones and technology.