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FAA Requires Registration of Consumer UAVs


Beginning December 21, 2015, the FAA will require all drones ("SUA" in FAA terminology) weighing between 0.55 and 55 pounds to be registered before operating outdoors. Failure to register can result in stiff penalties, which can include fines of up to $27,000 or, where criminal liability has been found, a fine of up to $250,000 and up to three years in jail. What this new requirement means for the hobbyist or consumer is that all but the smallest nano-scale quadcopters will need to be registered to be flown outdoors. A very slight exception will made for owners who have personally flown their own aircraft outdoors before December 21st that allows deferred registration of the particular aircraft until February 19th. But this exception comes with so many caveats the takeaway should be, register your drone before you fly outdoors to avoid falling afoul of the FAA or local law enforcement.

Registration will cost $5 and must be renewed every three years. The registration process won't open until December 21; however, you can start the ball rolling today by reading the downloadable documentation at the FAA website. Early registrants who complete their application before January 20, 2016, will see their $5 fee refunded. Once successfully registered, you will receive a unique identification number that must be displayed somewhere accessible, without the use of tools (but not necessarily external), on the drone—inside the battery compartment will probably be ideal, in most cases. The FAA is keen to stress that this number is not the same as an "N-number" or "tail number." Rather, it is a unique code that ties a particular drone to its owner. If you have a collection of several drones, the same number can be applied to each.

The recommended location for your registration number, on the drone itself, is inside the battery compartment. 

Since the number pairs with the owner, and not the aircraft, it should be removed if you sell your drone or give it away. The new owner will then need to apply for their own registration number if they do not already have one.

After December 21, registration can be initiated online through the FAA website, or via snail mail. At this time, only non-commercial drones in the 0.55- to 55-pound weight range can be registered online. Commercial operators and hobbyists with aircraft weighing more than 55 pounds must still register the old-fashioned way, through the mail. In these cases, different fees and conditions may apply.

For more information regarding registration and safe flying practices, a great place to start is the official FAQ on the FAA website. Registration applies to users in the US. For operators in other countries, please check with your local authorities or RC clubs in your area to discover what regulations apply. 

To read more about the full line of drones available at B&H, click here.

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I registered yesterday to cover my several small drones, a couple of which are likely over .55 lbs. As I'd like to get into the real estate video business I'm thinking of purchasing a Yuneec q500+ or DJI Phantom 3; HOWEVER, there is no provision yet for a commercial license unless you file for an exception under some article 333 or whatever. From what I read at the FAA drone registration site they are still putting a process in place for commercial licensing.  If that is the case, then what of all the drone operators currently doing videos for real estate or at weddings and other events? My understanding is that they are all breaking the law!  Is this true? You can't make money with your drone unless you want to risk heavy fines or jail time?  Really?

This is way overdue.  This availability of affordable easy to fly drones with FPV added is a recipe for diaster for the indusrty when coupled with irresponsible and inexperienced operators.  Common sense is apparently NOT common when it comes to drone use.  Drone technology in the wrong hands can be fatal.  ALL operators should be held accountable.  Those who use drones responsibly will have no problem with being regulated by the FAA.

It is expected that millions of Drones will be sold this holiday season, so the government has decided to cash in the public enthusiasm and charge only the law abiding citizens a registration fee because we all know that those that plan to do anything unlawful will not do this. Thank God we have such great thinkers in our government, as they will always find a way to rip off the populace and line thier pockets. By the way who is registering all the birds that weigh in this range that cause more issues at airports than the drones do? I was also told that the number UFO sightings by Pilots is drastically down but the increase in Drone sightings are up. I wonder what will be next.

For your information, yesterday ( 2016-04-17) a British Airway B 737 in final to Heatrow (London) was hit by a drone ! No further comment ...

"Mandatory is not part of the constution of this republic" I willnot be dictated to by any public service department-agencie oversteping there authority without my permission. If I cannot fly mine RC units under 1500 ft on my property with out your permission then, I will sue goverment if they fly in the airspace over my property.  Ltc R. Anthony Buono


Give me liberty, or give me death! 

We appreciate your service Ltc.

No success so far.

Tried two different unrelated email accounts but never got the confirming emails (checked spam, not there either) over an hour after submitting.  Will see if the emails are there in the morning.  Tried a different device (iphone) but it now says that I can't log in.

Typical government FUBAR.

Wow.  What an ordeal to sign up.  As above, I never did get my confirming emails (20 hours later).  I hit the "forgot password" button and DID receive an email to reset; I did that and was still locked out of any account using either of the email accounts.  Since the FAA in its infinite wisdom has now locked out both of my usual email addresses I set up a gmail address and tried again from scratch.  This went through, the confirming email was sent, and I was able to register.  I put in a backup email address (yes, one of the original ones I used).  Once I got to the certificate screen I immediately printed out several copies.  The promised email with an emailed certificant never arrived in the new gmail account - but DID go to the backup account! (and yes I checked all my spam folders, etc).

No wonder the FAA is refunding for the first month - their registration process is horrible and very buggy.   I hope this description of the process and my workaround helps someone else who has the same problems.

The AMA is recommending holding off for registration for now.  This is likely to go to the courts or to congress.  The FAA has violated the 60-day public comment period rule, and is in direct violation of federal law mandating that the FAA is not allowed to regulate model aircraft. 

Anonymous wrote:

The AMA is recommending holding off for registration for now.  This is likely to go to the courts or to congress.  The FAA has violated the 60-day public comment period rule, and is in direct violation of federal law mandating that the FAA is not allowed to regulate model aircraft. 

Big Brother is watching.  The FAA dose not have congressional authority to regulate drones, but never stopped Obama and his minions from stealing you liberties. 

Did you know the data base will be available to the general public.And searchable.


So now all the idiots in the US will have access to your information.

So what.  I have nothing to hide.  Stop making it like the govenment is out to get us!?!'s fine if you want to give everyone your name, address ,and email address. Want to give me yours? Probably not...

Oh no. Having worked for Florida government I am used to having my name, salary, benefits and distribution available.  Florida made driver's license data public record years ago, with a bunch of exceptions for important people. Google and the NSA know everything about you before you do it anyway. 

Mine is done. Very simple took no more than 3 minutes. 

So does this mean we can niow operate a photography/video business?  With regulations comes benefits...right?

Unfortunately, being that this is America, with regulation comes more regulation. Lol

No the registration process mentioned here is for recreational use only.  You register once for 5 bucks and it will cover all your aircraft.  If you plan to use your Aircraft for commercial use IE: selling your footage, you need to file for a 333 exepmtion.  This is done for every AC you intend to use and has a number of requirements (the pilot must be licenced with the FAA or be supervised by a licensed pilot for instance)  Your 333 will set you bac a few grand as well.  You can go here to see what's involved

As jon b stated above, the registration talked about in this article is only for the recreational use of drones.

Well said, but I was hoping this registration covered all small, unmanned radio controlled aircraft regardless of use.   (I can't use the word drone for a photographic/survey tool).  Rats. This means my dream retirement GIS/survey/aerial photo  business would still involve paying a pilot more than I planned to charge per job. 

Does this replace the excemption that can also be filed?  I realize that these are 2 different things, but filing for the excemption was all the rage a few months ago so I'm just wondering if there's any change in that.



No, the 333 exemption is for comercial use and does not relate to this (recreational use) registration process.  If you dont plan to sell your footage, you do not need the file and exemption.  Also, the commercial exemption is required (presently) for each aircraft you want to use for commercial work.  The recreational reg is per user and not tied to one aircraft

Thank you for the precise clarification!

Not at all, happy to help.  You will find a ton of information on the forum as well as learn the ins and outs of the various processes.  Lots of great information on how to get the most out of your photo platform too.  There is a similar site for Phantoms                   Have fun and fly safe

Trying all day to register a drone, still no registration form that is operational. Guess no one can fly now till FAA gets the site operational.

It worked flawless for me in the last 5 minutes. Maybe use a different browser/device to access the site?

I had the same problem this morning before I went to work. I tried with 3 different browsers : FireFox, Safari and Chrome. Have not tried this afternoon so will give it another go.

It's all about the $$$. Just another way to drain citizen's wallet and fill budget holes. Makes me sick. 

It took me less than five minutes to complete with a five dollar registration charge that will be refunded. Doubt that any budget holes are going to be filled!

So you can build and fly an ultralight aircraft and you are NOT required to register BUT if I have a RC plane or drone I have to register?  Another example of Obama stupidity....

Blame the FAA, not the president

It,s called Executive Order and it,s all Obama knows how to do besides enlarge his carbon footprint with Air Force One playing golf across the US.

It's called another revenue stream.

close minded, idiotic, broad brush stroked blaming should be illegal


Because you are onboard the craft on an ultra light, unmanned drones can be easilly abandoned when you use it for illegal endeavors...

yeah, Obama made this law... yeah, that's it...

Yeah, I blame Obama for WW II and the civil war, too.  (irony)  That makes as much sense as blaming him for FAA rules.  The FAA has in fact greatly loosened restrictions on small, unmanned flying devices. Now you can take a photograph with one and sell it without a special FAA permit.  Until now that was a felony and the FAA pursued it in some cases.  Legal operation previously required a commercial pilot's license and remote flight training.  

So everyone,  quit whining. 

How ironic that drones that have yet to cause more than a mere handful of minor injuries must now be registered by Federal Law, while millions of gun owners are still exempt.


Drones don't have billion dollar lobbies in Washington. It's not ironic, it's the American way. 

Hahaha how right are you!! Population control.

Here is the dfference, 2nd Amendment. and Not. Oh wait have you read the document?

Spot on.  There is no second amendment right to drone ownership   There is a second amendment right for gun ownership 

This argument makes no sense. Voting is a right guaranteed by the constitution, yet you have to register to vote. Having the right to something doesn't automatically exempt one from having to register. It cannot prohibit you from getting a gun, but it can require you to register.

Anonymous wrote:

This argument makes no sense. Voting is a right guaranteed by the constitution, yet you have to register to vote. Having the right to something doesn't automatically exempt one from having to register. It cannot prohibit you from getting a gun, but it can require you to register.

There is no second amendment right to own guns - read the constitution.  There is a right to bear arms - arms can be defined as any weapon, and the US military uses drones as weapons, and therefore, drones are arms, and should be exempt from registration.

the second amendement might loosly give you the right to own weapons , but says nothing about registration.  if i must register my drone, you better register your gun.

Gun buyers go through a federal background check every time they buy a gun.

False... In many states private firearms transfers circumvent background checks.

FALSE! You can buy guns almost anywhere in the United States at gun shows and from private parties with no background check. No check at all in my state for rifles and shotguns, permit for handguns approved by local sheriff only and the only background check is handguns for concealed carry.

The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution does not guarantee the right to keep and bear drones.




My sentiments exactly. The problem is, Drone owners don't have a voice on capital high, i.e. The NRA.

Ever heard of the Second Amendment?  Call your congressman and demand an amendment to the Constitution to keep and bear drones.

I agree!

Guns are registered also...... which is not a bad idea!

Guns are registered when they are made and bought. Some states don't require private sales which is true but some do. 

What is the BFD about registering a small, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) ?  Until now it was  a felony to take and sell a photograph using one without a federal Certificate of Authority from the FAA.  The FAA did prosecute, which is the reason every GIS team in the nation wasn't using them. Now they will proliferate and do good work and cause some problems. 

Why is it that the reference to weapon ownership as part of a well-regulated militia is ignored by NRA types?  It written Yoda like. "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."  

You do not know what you are talking about.

In NJ, Gun owners are required to register with the FBI data base, get their permit from a local police authority who also signs off on the document, you need to have a background check, be finger printed and carry your permit with you. Fee's range from $60 - $100 or more.

Also there are one time fees made to the NJ state troopers as well as a NIX fee you need to pay before can take possession of a firearm legally purchased from a authorized firearms dealer.

Even with all that you can still shoot your eye out with a bb gun.

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