The number of new drone owners I’ve seen showing off on social media the last few days is crazy. It’s obvious a lot have been given out over Christmas. While some new drone users have already hit a spot of bad luck, one thing many will have to do is register with the FAA. A lot of the tiny toy drones won’t need it, but if you’ve got a Mavic Pro, Phantom, or similar sized drone, it will.
Fortunately, Adorama have put together a complete step-by-step walkthrough video of the registration process. If your drone weighs between 0.55lbs (250g) and 55lbs (25kg), you’ll need to do it. It’s cheap though. It costs $5, is valid for three years, and only takes about five minutes to do.
The process, as mentioned, is quite simple. Simply visit the FAA website, and you’re off to a good start. In case you’re not sure exactly where your drone falls, the FAA have provided a very handy list of common drone models.
Do be warned, though, that the 0.55lb (250g) minimum is the full load of the drone. So, for example, perhaps your drone straight out of the box falls under the weight limit. But it didn’t come with a gimbal and camera. So, you add your own. Now it may (probably is) over the minimum weight requirement and would technically require registration.
Assuming your drone needs registering, you have two choices. You can register by paper, or register online. The easiest way is to do it online. So, the first step is to click Register, after which you are presented a form to create an account. If you already have an account, you can just login. Of course, if you already have an account, you’ve probably already registered at least one drone already, so don’t need the help.
You are then sent an email to confirm your account, and once you log back into the site, you’re presented with the terms of service to accept.
Once logged in, you are asked what type of account you want to create. This is important. If you’re a working photographer that’s decided to add a drone to your arsenal for clients, you’re not a hobbyist. It doesn’t really matter how you try to justify it to yourself, even if you throw it in for clients as a free extra, you’re still a commercial user.
All that’s required for hobbyist model aircraft users is your name, address and email address. Commercial users will also need to enter the make, model and serial number for each drone you are going to fly.
After filling in the form, you’re presented with some safety guidelines, to which you must agree before continuing.
Now, while it says “Guidance”, these are laws and legal requirements. If you’re found in violation of these, you can be heavily fined and prosecuted. After this, you’re sent to the payment information, then a page to review the details you’ve entered.
Finally a confirmation page shows that your payment has been received, along with instructions to mark your drone. Your registration number needs to be accessible and visible without the use of tools. So, you can’t just take it apart and write it on the inside.
You’re also able to click and get a copy of your registration certificate that you can print off and keep with you. This is very handy when you’re flying, as it allows you to quickly show people that you are flying your drone in accordance with the law if challenged. When your drone’s still up in the air, the last thing you want to be doing is arguing with people on the ground while your battery dies.
But that’s it, you’re all done. Painless and easy.
Have you received a drone for Christmas? Which one did you get? Have you flown it yet? Did you find the registration easy? Did you even need to register? Let us know in the comments.