Do I Need to Register my Drone [2023]

Drones have become increasingly popular over the last few years and it seems like almost everyone you know owns one.

You can use them to capture breathtaking videos and stunning photos from the air.

Moreover, you can immerse yourself in an exciting flying experience when paired with VR goggles especially during high-speed racing.

There’s so much that drones allow you to do which is why they have been flying off shelves and manufacturers have been throwing more units out there.

If you’re interested in getting your hands on one of these units, there are some things you need to know if you’re living in the US.

Every country, state, town and city has drone registration laws and in this article, we’ll answer some of the most asked questions about these laws in the US.

Do I need to register my drone?

In 2015, the FAA had announced new regulations for all drones weighing more than 250 grams or 0.55 pounds. 

All drones that meet this weight requirement need to be registered under the FAA regulations. 

The FAA has two classifications for drones; recreational and commercial. 

Recreational Drones are those that hobby pilots fly just for fun.  

They do not fly to make money in any way. 

If your recreational drone weighs more than 250 grams, you will have to register it with the FAA. 

On the other hand, commercial drones are used by professional pilots and these pilots are compensated for their flight. 

This will include selling drone photos, uploading videos on YouTube with monetization turned on and others. 

If you are making money with your drone, no matter the size or type, you will need to register the drone before you fly. 

Commercial drone operators need to register their drones under the Part 107 commercial drone section. 

Where do I register my drone?

To register a drone under 55 pounds, you can head over to the FAA drone zone.

Once there the process is pretty straight forward but no worries, we’ll still look at the process in this article nonetheless.

This way, if you’re not sure what to do, you can check back here and watch the video in this next section.

How to register your drone?

Registering your drone is super easy and all you need to do is visit the FAA website.

But before you do, here is the list of information you’ll need to gather and the registration requirements.

Information you’ll need

  • Email address – You’ll need to have a working email address to create an account.  It will need to be an account that you check frequently and will be used for communicating with the FAA. 
  • Physical Address/Mailing Address – the FAA will require a physical address or mailing address if different from your physical address. 
  • The make and model of your drone – the FAA uses this to verify that you’re registering under the correct category. 
  • A credit or debit card – Either will be used to pay the small registration fee. 
  • Specific Remote ID serial number provided by the manufacturer – you may only need this information if it’s applicable and it all depends on the type of drone. 

Drone registration requirements

  • You must be 13 years or older- if you are not 13 and over, then you’ll need to ask some 13 or over to register the drone for you.
  • You need to be a US resident or legal permanent resident.
  • If you are a foreign operator, the FAA may consider issuing a certificate of recognition of ownership instead of the US aircraft registration certificate.

Check out the video on how to register your drone.

How much does it cost to register a drone?

how much does it cost to register a drone

The registration fee for Part 107 is $5 per drone and is valid for 3 years.

The Exception for Recreational Flyers registration fee is also $5 and valid for 3 years.

Commercial drones are registered individually while recreational drone operators receive a registration number that covers all the drones that they own. 

Keep in mind that after registration, the drone registration cannot be transferred between the two types.

This means that a drone that was registered with an Exception for Recreational Flyers cannot be transferred to Part 107.

If you want to change your drone’s registration to commercial, you’ll have to go through the registration process for commercial drones and pay the $5 fee.

What happens after I register my drone?

After registering your drone, you will receive an FAA registration certificate. 

You’ll need to keep your registration certificate whether it’s a paper copy or digital copy in your possession whenever you fly your drone. 

If someone else flies your drone then they must also have your drone registration certificate(paper or digital copy) in their possession. 

Federal law requires that drone operators who pilot drones requiring registration need to show their registration certificate to any federal, state or local law enforcement officer if requested. 

You will also need to label your drone as the FAA requires that you mark all drones with your registration number before you fly. 

To label your drone, follow these steps: 

  • Use this PDF from the FAA website as a guide.
  • The label should always be maintained and kept in a legible condition. 
  • It must be affixed to your drone by any means necessary that will ensure it will remain on the unit for the duration of each operation. 
  • It should be legibly displayed on the external surface of the drone. 

How to renew drone registration?

Remember to always keep a check on when you need to renew your drone registration.

Both commercial and recreational drone registration is valid for 3 years.

After this time has elapsed and your registration expires, head back to FAA DroneZone to renew your registration.

Remember to use the email address you used when you registered the drone for the first time with the FAA.

If you have any trouble logging into FAA DroneZone, you may have to reset your password.

Why register my drone?

The FAA pays close attention to anything that goes up in the air especially if those things can harm aircraft, people and property.

They also take a keen interest in anything that can violate one’s privacy or interfere with national security.

While you may have innocent intentions with your new drone, the FAA leaves nothing to chance.

If you fly in the wrong place at the wrong time, you can end up in heaps of trouble.

Aside from safety, the FAA is also for accountability.

It can be hard to track down the owner of a lost drone especially if you are breaking the law in some way.

It is highly unlikely the FAA will come looking for you once you follow all the regulations and stipulations when it comes to operating drones.

What happens if I don’t register my drone?

Registering a drone is a statutory requirement and failure to do so is illegal under federal law. 

Drone operators who own a drone that requires registration but fails to register their drones can face civil and criminal charges. 

The civil charges can include fines up to $27,500 while criminal charges can include fines up to 250,000 dollars and three years imprisonment. 

While the FAA regulates the flying of drones, an unregistered drone operator can go unnoticed in most situations especially if you’re just flying around in your backyard.

That is unless someone reports the unregistered drone and provides strong evidence. 

This is unlikely to happen unless the drone operator commits some sort of crime such as flying recklessly or flying in unauthorized areas. 

Despite the unlikelihood of a drone operator getting caught for an unregistered drone, there is still the risk of punishment. 

Your best bet is to register your drone since the registration process doesn’t take a lot of time, money or effort. 

Do I need a license to fly my drone?

Now that you’ve registered your drone/s drones, you may be wondering if you need a license to fly.

The answer is yes, you do.

As of 2021 both, hobby and commercial pilots require a license to fly their drones.

All drone pilots desirous of flying at night or flying over the top of people will require Part 107 certification.

Hobby pilot license

Earlier in 2021, the FAA rolled out a new test for all hobby pilots.

You are required to take and pass the test before you fly your drone. 

This test applies to all pilots that will be flying for recreational purposes no matter age, type of drone or where you plan to fly in the US. 

The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST) is a free test that you can take online. 

It is designed to educate you on the best flight practices so that you can safely fly your drone in the national airspace. 

You can take the test from over a dozen test administrators in the US and no prior knowledge is required. but always helps. 

The training and test should take about an hour. 

All you need to do is choose a vendor, take the course and pass the test. 

You can check the FAA website for a list of institutes that are approved to offer the training and testing for the TRUST certificate. 

Once you’re successful, you will be given a TRUST certificate that you will need to keep with you every time you fly your drone.

it can either be in digital or paper copy and must be shown to anyone in authority when asked. 

The TRUST certificate is good for life but you will have to retake the test if you lose your certificate at any point. 

Commercial pilot license

Commercial pilots, on the other hand, will need a Remote Pilot Certificate issued by the FAA.

Drones under 55 pounds that are flown for work or monetary purposes follow the commercial drone guidelines that fall under the Part 107 registration.

The FAA has strict guidelines for commercial drone pilots so be sure to review the rules before taking off.

These rules include things like yielding the right of way, operating over people and keeping the drone within your line of sight.

If you are going to be operating a commercial drone then you’ll need the study and pass the test developed by the FAA. 

You’ll need to be at least 16 years old and create a profile with the Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application to obtain an FAA tracking number. 

You then schedule an appointment with an FAA-approved Knowledge Testing Center and take along your government-issued photo ID to your test. 

Check the FAA website for the approved knowledge testing centers.

The test includes a wide range of topics including the regulations relating to small unmanned aircraft with regards to privileges, flight operation and limitations.

It also deals with flight restrictions, airspace classification, operation requirements and effects of weather on drones and a whole lot more.

It is best to get in touch with a drone piloting school to ensure you are fully prepared to take the test.

After completing the test successfully, you’ll be issued a permanent Remote Pilot Certificate which you’ll need to keep with you whenever you operate your drone.

It is important to keep your Remote Pilot Knowledge up to date.

If you’ve been issued a Remote Pilot License then you are required to complete one of the online courses set out by the FAA every 24 months.

Where can registered and licensed drone operators fly their drones?

drone registration laws

So you’ve registered your drone and obtained your license, you may be ready to hit the skies.

Before you do so, you need to know where to fly because you can end up in trouble if you fly in unauthorized spaces.

The FAA permits registered and licensed drone operators to fly in uncontrolled airspaces. 

Uncontrolled airspaces include everything up to 400 feet while controlled airspaces start at 500 feet.

This provides a 100-foot buffer between recreational activities and commercial flights. 

If you wish to fly in controlled airspaces, you will be required to obtain FAA authorization. 

There are three methods for registered drone operators to obtain authorization. 

These include two web-based platforms and a written agreement from the FAA. 

Along with controlled airspaces and uncontrolled airspaces, they are other restricted airspaces throughout The US. 

Restricted areas typically include heavily populated spaces and government land. 

Individual states, counties, cities and towns may have additional restrictions for drone operators. 

Check local drone laws and regulations to ensure that you are always operating your drone within the legal requirements of that state, county, city or town.

Things to know before you fly

  • Register your drone before you fly if it’s 250 grams or more.
  • Once registered, affix your drone registration number onto your unit.
  • Keep your drone registration certificate(digital or paper copy) on you at all times.
  • Obtain your Trust certificate if you’re a hobby pilot or your Remote Pilot License if you’re a commercial pilot.
  • Follow the FAA airspace rules at all times. 
  • All drones are considered aircraft by the FAA so remember this and operate your unit accordingly.
  • Acquire authorization if you wish to fly in controlled airspaces.

Read here for drone flying tips you should know about before you fly.


Operating a drone is one of the greatest thrills today.

Not only can you capture awesome videos and photos from above but also take part in some high-speed racing action

To fully enjoy your drone experience without worrying about getting into trouble with the law, register your drone, obtain your license and follow the drone regulations in your area.

For some of the best drones on the market, check out the best drone with camera and best drone for the money

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