The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Small Unmanned Aircraft System (sUAS) new streamlined, web-based registry is now live and ready for sUAS owners to use at www.faa.gov/uas/registration. A paper-based process is also available. The FAA’s full press release can be found here.
Here is a brief summary of the key registration details:
1. Registration is mandatory in the United States.
2. If you already own a drone, you have until February 19, 2016, to register.
3. If you buy your drone after December 21, you must register before your first flight.
4. Registration in the first 30 days is free. After that it is $5. Registration is good for three years.
5. Users must be at least 13 to register online.
6. Registration is directly through the FAA.
7. Once registration is complete, you are issued a Certificate of Aircraft Registration/Proof of Ownership including a unique identification number that must be marked on each drone.
8. The registration process only applies to hobby and recreational use. Business use rules still forthcoming.
If you live in the U.S. and already own and operate a drone that weighs more than 0.55 pounds (250 grams) and less than 55 pounds (approx. 25 kilograms), including payloads such as on-board cameras (which is practically all but the smallest drones), you have until February 19, 2016 to register it. The FAA’s rule doesn’t differentiate between multirotor drones and fixed-wing remote controlled aircraft and model helicopters. So, as long as your machine falls under the FAA’s weight rules, it is probably safer to register it for the time being. Registration is free for the first 30 days with a rebate, then $5 after that. New drones bought after today, including those you are putting under the tree or giving as gifts, must be registered before your first outdoor flight.
During the registration process, each owner must provide his or her name, home address and e-mail address. When registration is complete, the web application will generate a Certificate of Aircraft Registration/Proof of Ownership including a unique identification number for the sUAS owner, which must be marked on the aircraft. You must also have a copy of the registration certificate with you whenever you fly your drone. Owners using the model aircraft for hobby or recreation will only have to register once and may use the same identification number for all of their model sUAS. The registration is valid for three years. If you need any help with registration you can email UAShelp@faa.gov.
Civil penalties for failing to register your drone include up to $27,500 in fines. There are also potential criminal penalties that could add up to $250,000 in fines and up to three years in prison.
In addition to having fun, it is also important to keep in mind some basic rules when you fly:
• Fly below 400 feet altitude.
• Keep your unmanned aircraft in sight at all times.
• Never fly near manned aircraft, especially near airports.
• Never fly over groups of people, stadiums or sporting events.
• Never fly near emergency response efforts.