How to register a drone

Since late August 2016, the FAA has required that all drones that weigh more than 0.55 pounds (250 grams) must be registered if that drone is to be used for commercial purposes (flown under the Part 107 regulations). Prior to a US federal court decision in May 2017, drones in this weight category that would not be used commercially also had to be registered, but then the rules were changed so that only those intended to be flown for commercial purposes had to be registered. Below are answers to some common questions about drone registration, as well as links to the FAA drone registration process.

What drones need to be registered?
In the US, drones that weigh more than 0.55 pounds (250 grams) must be registered if they are to be flown for commercial purposes under Part 107 regulations. There are actually several types of drone registration that depend on several factors:

  • Weight: Drones that weigh between 0.55 pounds (250 grams) and 55 pounds (25 kg) can be registered through an online FAA drone registration process. Heavier drones must use a different process.
  • Ownership: Certain kinds of drone ownership require a different registration process.
  • Location: Drones that will operate outside of the US, even those weighing between 0.55 and 55 pounds, will also use a process different from those that are operated domestically.

Who can register a drone?
The basic requirement is that a person has to be at least 13 years old.

Does each drone have a different registration number?
The FAA drone registration process is meant to identify owners rather than aircraft. When you register, you will receive a registration number that can be used on every drone that you own that weighs between 0.55 and 55 pounds.

What about drones given as gifts?
The FAA does not require that the person flying the drone be the person who registers that drone. This means that if you buy a drone for someone else, you have several options:

  • You can register the drone,
  • The person who will be flying the drone can register that drone, if that person is at least 13 years old, or
  • Some third party can register the drone.

Do you have to own a drone before registering a drone?
The FAA registration process does not require that you own any drones because the registration is associated with a person, not a drone. It may be a good idea to go ahead and apply for a registration number if you are even thinking about buying a drone and using it in connection with any kind of business or commercial activity.

Do you have to have an FAA remote pilot certificate before registering a drone?
The FAA registration process does not require that you have any kind of FAA certification. This means that if the drone is intended for commercial use, you can apply for a registration number even if you, or the person who will be responsible for flying the drone, don't possess a remote pilot certification.


Additional resources

How to register a drone
http://airsafe.com/issues/drones/register.htm -- Revised 22 May 2017