The Legalities of Drone usage and Ownership – Federal Aviation Administration information about the legal use and guidelines of Unmanned Aircraft Systems



Frequently asked Questions about Legalities:

Why do drones need to be registered?

The gadgets are still relatively new but the government thinks they have the potential to violate people’s privacy, dangerously interfere with large aircraft, and generally cause mischief. There have already been reports of drones interfering with fire departments fighting wildfires and police helicopters. Registering is the first step by the FAA to help drone operators use the devices safely through education and accountability.

Do you need to register your drone?

Drones that weigh more than .55 pounds and less than 55 pounds must be registered. As the FAA helpfully points out, if your drone weighs more than two sticks of butter, you should register it.

Most toy drones under $100 won’t weigh enough to qualify. If you plan on using the aircraft to carry a load such as a camera, that counts towards the minimum weight. Registration is limited to U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents. Other owners will still need to apply on the site before flying, but they’ll get a different certification.

Drones that will be used for commercial purposes or those that weigh more than 55 pounds need to be registered using an older, paper-based system.

How do you register?

Registration is $5 for three years and can be done online at Drone owners give the FAA their full name, physical and mailing addresses, and an email address.

The FAA will also send you a certificate of registration. If asked for it by law enforcement, you can show a printed or digital version of the certificate. If you loan your drone to some buddies for the weekend, they can also borrow the document. You must also write your registration number on all your drones.

What happens if you don’t register?

Criminal penalties for flying a drone without registering are up to three years in jail, or up to $250,000 in fines. The agency is unlikely to dedicate many resources into enforcing the registration rule at first. Local law enforcement will handle the bulk of enforcement for now.

Any other rules you should know?

Once you’re registered, you can take your new drone out for a spin. As long as you follow all the rules. Most importantly, don’t fly the drone above 400 feet (the height of a 30 to 40 story building), never let it out of your eyesight, and don’t fly it near airports or populated areas like stadiums.

Information pulled from


Miscellaneous Frequently asked Questions


What is the difference between a $200 drone versus a $3,000 drone?

There are plenty of details that could be added to answering this question, but the main differences in price range are based on the longevity of flight time per battery, stability of flight, flight range, and quality of the camera.

Are drones easy to fly?

Typically, yes. Drones are pretty easy to fly. There is a learning curve to handle the controls and the feel for flying the drone, but there are many manufacturer released videos and guides to help train the pilot with essential drone flying knowledge. Higher priced drones typically have better stability in windy conditions, therefore making the drone more controllable.

Can I sell my drone footage?

You can but you must have appropriate licensing and certifications to do so, which can be a time consuming and costly venture. See this Press Release from the FAA for more information.