Drones were the ‘big thing’ this holiday season and have been sold to all walks of life for entertainment and for commercial use by photographers. The interest doesn’t seem to be declining.

Companies like DJI made $500 million in sales during 2014 and were paced to double that in 2015. Only time will tell for this year’s drone sales.

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It was speculated as to whether the FAA was going to jump in and regulate the drone industry. The answer is yes, people who previously operated their drones or have bought new drones must register with the FAA.

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. 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.

The most important rules to follow after registering your new drone are not to 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.

Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) are inherently different from manned aircraft. Introducing UAS into the nation’s airspace is challenging for both the FAA and aviation community, because the U.S. has the busiest, most complex airspace in the world. The FAA is taking an incremental approach to safe UAS integration.

UAS come in a variety of shapes and sizes and serve diverse purposes. Regardless of size, the responsibility to fly safely applies equally to manned and unmanned aircraft operations. The FAA is partnering with several industry associations to promote safe and responsible use of unmanned aircraft.

Anyone who owns a small unmanned aircraft of a certain weight must register with the Federal Aviation Administration’s Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) registry before they fly outdoors. People who previously operated their UAS must register by February 19, 2016. People who do not register could face civil and criminal penalties.

Who must register a UAS?

  • The owner must be: 13 years of age or older. (If the owner is less than 13 years of age, a person 13 years of age or older must register the small unmanned aircraft.)
  • A U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident.
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Which unmanned aircraft do I have to register?

  • Owners must register their UAS online if it meets the following guidelines: Weighs more than 0.55 lbs. (250 g) and less than 55 lbs. (25 kg).
  • Unmanned Aircraft weighing more than 55 lbs. cannot use this registration process and must register using the Aircraft Registry process.


Owners must register their UAS by paper if it meets the following guidelines:

  • Your aircraft is used for commercial purposes.
  • Your aircraft is used for other than hobby and recreation.
  • Your aircraft is greater than 55 lbs.
  • You intend to operate your aircraft outside of the United States.


How do I register my UAS?

It costs only $5 to register your UAS and the process is simple and web-based. Some things you’ll need before you get started:

  • An email address
  • Credit or Debit card
  • Physical address and mailing address (if different from physical address)
  • Your registration is valid for three years.
  • Once you receive a registration number, you can use it on all of your unmanned aircraft if they meet the online registration criteria.
  • You must mark the registration number on all aircraft you own.


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