The time has come. Drones owners will soon have to register and mark their unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Today, months after designating a task force to address the problem of rogue drones, the FAA has announced that drone owners 13 years or older will need to register any UAVs weighing between half a pound and 55 pounds on a newly created FAA website.
Set to launch on December 21st, the website will let you register a drone for a small $5 fee – a fee that will be waived if you register within the first 30 days of the website going live. The registration will be valid for a three-year period, after which, you will need to re-register your drone.
To register, you must provide documentation of U.S. citizenship, as well as your name, home address, and email address. Once registration is complete, you will be given a Certificate of Aircraft Registration/Proof of Ownership, which includes a unique identification number that must be placed on the registered drone.
Drones purchased before December 21st must be registered by February 19th, 2016. Those acquired after December 21st need to register before their first outdoor flight.
Any drone weighing less than 250 grams (0.55 lbs.) are considered ‘toys’ by the FAA and need not register – but keep in mind the FAA’s weight system includes ‘everything that is on board or otherwise attached to the aircraft and operated outdoors in the national airspace system,’ so don’t take out the battery and hope it weighs less than 250 grams thinking you’ll slip by.
If your drone setup weighs over 55 pounds, you must register your drone through the FAA via their current paper-based system.
Failure to register your drone can result in civil penalties up to $27,500. Serious incidents, considered ‘criminal penalties,’ may fetch fines upwards of $250K and/or up to 3 years in prison.
You can read more information on the registration process and guidelines on the FAA’s FAQ page.