FAA Drone Registration Rules

This morning the FAA announced its Drone Registration Rules.  The entire 211 page PDF Document is available for you to view here.

Highlights of the new rules are as follows.

All unmanned aircraft from .55 (250 grams) up to 55 lbs for consumer use are covered by this new rule.

Must be a U.S. Citizen at least 13 years of age to register.

There will be a $5 registration fee.  This fee will be refundable until January 20, 2015.

The registration fee can cover multiple drones if used for recreational purposes.

Fine for non registration can be a civil penalty fine of up to 27,500 and a criminal penalty of up to a $250,000 fine and 3 years in prison.

These highlights do differ in several ways from the recommended rule posted before.   As this is the Interim Final Rule it will be interesting to see how this registration process is implemented.

The Registration Website should be operational on December 21, 2015.  The FAA will charge a $5 registration fee, but will refund this fee to anyone who registers before January 20, 2016.   Drones bought before the December 21 of this year must be registered by February 19, 2016.  The registration fee is the same as aircraft, however, this fee and individual registration number can cover multiple drones if used for hobby purposes,

All drones bought after December 21, 2015 must be registered before their first flight outdoors.   The penalty for non-registration can be a civil penalty of up to $27,500 and criminal fines of up to $250,000 and 3 years in prison.  Indoor flights do not require registration, however, before you first operate your drone outdoors, you must have a proof of your registration certificate with you once this rule is implemented  This can be a printed copy, or an electronic version of the certificate.  At this time only U.S. Citizens at least 13 years of age may register their drones.

Registration rules will differ depending on use.  Drones used exclusively as hobby model aircraft must only have a single registration, with a single registration number marked on all, those used for commercial purposes must have individual registrations.  As this already applies to operations under Section 333 exemptions, not much has changed on this front.   The new UAS registration website may be available for commercial operators in the future, but right now this process only applies to recreational users.   A more detailed clarification of the rules may be found here.

However, mandatory registration is a big change for hobby operations.  All drones weighing from .55 to 55 lbs must be registered.  This applies to tethered, not tethered, and every type of Unmanned Aircraft System with a remote control.  Frisbees and paper airplanes are not covered as they do not have such a control system.  It is unclear as to the exact status of kites, but in the FAQs it does appear to rule them out as they do not have a remote control system.

This is link to the FAA’s Registration FAQs.

As we’ve said before, this is a big step by the FAA.  Registration will be here, like it or not, and if you plan to fly a drone you bought after December 21, you’d better get it registered, especially since for the first month it will be free.