Do I need to register my drone? Yes, if your drone weighs 0.55 lbs or more, you will need to register it with the FAA before you fly!
If you will be compensated for your flight, like selling your drone photos or putting videos on YouTube with monetization turned on, you must register your drone under the Part 107 commercial drone system. Bottom line, you probably need to register your drone with the FAA before you fly in the United States. For other countries, check here.
In addition to drone registration, the FAA requires that you display your drone registration number on your craft, and that you receive authorization through LAANC before you fly in controlled airspace, which covers most of every city in the country. Chances are, if you want to fly a drone in the United States, you will have two or three things to do first.
Do I need a license to fly my drone?
For most countries, your need for a drone license depends on why you are flying. In the United States, if you will be paid to fly, or you will be otherwise compensated for any aspect of the flight, including selling your drone photos, or uploading your drone videos to YouTube with the Monetization tool turned on, you fall under the Part 107 regulations. You will need a drone license, we call it the Part 107 Certificate. If you are legitimately flying for fun, no license is currently required in the United States.
What do I do after I register my drone?
The process is fairly easy, you must be 13 or over and it will cost $5. From there, there are strict rules you will need to follow in the air, please read through and check them all out. I know some of them can be a hassle, depending on where you plan to fly, but the more we break the rules, the stricter they will become in the future. Help us all enjoy drones for years to come by enjoying them responsibly today.
Important new information
Update May 2019: The FAA now requires all hobby pilots to acquire authorization before they can fly in controlled airspace. That means that if you are within a few miles of an airport, chances are you cannot just go outside and fly. You will need to consult an app like Airmap or the FAA’s own B4UFly to figure out your airspace requirements.
Important Update, Fall 2018: The government is revisiting funding and some bills that may change drone law in the United States. Some of the immediate changes may be to further restrict fun flight, hobby pilots may need to pursue further registration and more. On the commercial pilot end, not a whole lot is expected to change, specifically, but we may all need to prepare for advanced positioning and aircraft identification requirements. We hope there will not be much new to report soon, but we’ll revise this article as soon as we know what the changes are.
Previous update, from May 2017: The FAA had been blocked from requiring registration of your “Model Aircraft.” Model aircraft and hobbyist ‘drones‘ (sUAS – Small Unmanned Aerial Systems) had been considered different things in terms of registration, they’ve since adjusted the rules, and are further make changes in the beginning of 2020. Sadly, the changes on deck may cause grief to hobby pilots, with Remote ID requirements making model aircraft a non-viable hobby, and drone pilots needing to pass a knowledge test before they can fly. The FAA knows how to make rules for manned aircraft, those rules are bleeding over to hobby drones.