The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is finally getting on the ball and putting some regulations in place with respect to the burgeoning drone industry. While the FAA is still working on the nitty gritty regulations pushed for by major retailers like Amazon and Google, at least the agency is moving to get drones registered. In fact, the FAA announced on Monday that starting next week, drone owners must register their drones in order to fly them in the United States. In order to encourage owners to become registered, the process will be free of charge for the next month. After January 20, anyone wishing to operate and fly a drone in the U.S. will have to pay a $5.00 fee to do so.
After meeting with lawyers, organizations and companies with interests in the drone industry last month, the FAA came up with and announced recommendations for the registration of drones.
And now, just in time for the holiday season – during which it is expected that over one million drones will be purchased as presents – the FAA’s recommendations became official policy after review by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
So, who must register?
- Any person flying a drone weighing over 0.55 pounds and less than 55 pounds. (The FAA suggests using a kitchen scale to weigh your drone, but if you cannot find one, it points out that two sticks of butter weigh less than the lightest drone requiring registration).
- Drones weighing 55 pounds or more must be registered through the mail.
- Drone flyers 13 and over must register – and if younger, they can fly with someone over 13 (who has a registration).
- Only United Citizens will be able to register their drones.
Even if flown on private property and/or tethered, the drone will require registration. Drone flyers must have their certificate of registration on their person when they are flying outside.
And just to clarify its intent, the FAA also points out that you do not need to register your toy balloon, frisbee or paper airplane.
Anyone who currently owns a drone must register by February 19. If a person fails to do so and is caught operating a drone without a certificate of registration, the penalties are pretty steep. The individual may face both criminal and regulatory sanctions. The FAA has the authority to impose a civil fine of up to $27,500. Moreover, the criminal penalties for flying a drone without a certificate of registration include fines of up to $250,000 and/or serving up to three years in prison.
In order to find out exactly how the registration process works, check out the FAA website for further details.