Recreational Drone Users
As of Dec. 21, 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration requires all owners of model aircraft, small unmanned aircraft or drones, or other RC aircraft weighing between 0.55 and 55 pounds to register online before taking to the skies.
The online registration system will require drone owners 13 years and older to submit their name, email and home address to receive a Certificate of Aircraft Registration/Proof of Ownership. This will include a unique identification number owners must affix to any drone they own and operate exclusively for recreation.
To encourage users to register quickly, registration is free for the first 30 days but will cost $5 after Jan. 20, 2016.
Anyone who purchases a small UAS on or after Dec. 21, 2015, must register before flying outdoors. Small UAS owners who have operated their aircraft exclusively as a model aircraft prior to Dec. 21, 2015, will have until Feb. 19, 2016 to register.
Registration will be valid for three years. Once registered, owners will be able to access the registration website to update the information provided to register the aircraft as well as cancel registration as circumstances require (e.g., aircraft destruction, transfer, sale, change in owner eligibility to register).
Failure to register an aircraft can result in civil penalties up to $27,500. Criminal penalties for failure to register can include fines of up to $250,000 under 18 U.S.C. 3571 and/or imprisonment up to three years.
Click here to see a growing list of platforms that require registration.
Commercial and Public Drone Users
According to the FAA, nonmilitary public aircraft operators and commercial operators operating through a Section 333 exemption may also use the new online registration system beginning March 31, 2016. Non-model aircraft will receive a unique Certificate of Aircraft Registration for each aircraft.
Until this time, these operators must continue to use the existing paper-based registration system.