I bought my second drone a few weeks ago, and it dawned on me. Do I need to register this drone with the FAA as well? I did some reading online and this is what I found.
You do not need to register multiple hobby drones with the FAA. In fact, it’s not even possible. When you register your hobby drone under “the exception for recreational flyers” with the FAA, you actually register yourself, and not the drone. So all you need to do is write your personal registration number on ALL of your drones for them to be “registered.”
That being said, do you have to register your drone in the first place?
- Do You Have To Register Your Drone?
- Toy or Hobby drones that weigh under 250 grams.
- Hobby/Recreational drones that weight over 250 grams, and under 55 pounds.
- Commercial dronesthat weigh over 250 grams, and under 55 pounds.
- Register drones that weight over 55 pounds
- What Size Drone Needs A Licence
- Penalty For Not Registering
Do You Have To Register Your Drone?
According to the FAA, (Federal Aviation Authority,) all hobby drones that weigh more than 0.55 pounds or 250 grams, need to be registered. However, if your drone weighs less than that, then it won’t need to be registered.
If you’re wondering how much your drone weighs, the weight of your drone should be on the packaging or in the manual. If you can’t find it there then you’ll also be able to find the weight of the drone online.
To give you a more detailed idea of which drones need to be registered, here are the different classes of drones and how you need to register them.
Toy or Hobby drones that weigh under 250 grams.
Generally, toy drones don’t need to be registered because they are so light. I wrote an article that shows a full list of drones that don’t need to be registered here if you want to get a better idea of what these drones look like.
Here are some example toy drone that fit this category.
- The Parrot Air-Borne Night drone weighs 54 grams
- Holy Stone HS110D weighs in at 145 grams
- Hubsan X4 weighs 30 grams
- The Blade 200 QX drone weighs 193 grams
NOTE: If you happen to own a Mavic Mini you’re in luck! This isn’t a toy drone, however, DJI specifically designed this drone to weigh 249 grams. Which is just 1 gram lower than the FAA’s requirements, so it doesn’t need to be registered! Very cheeky DJI!
Hobby/Recreational drones that weight over 250 grams, and under 55 pounds.
These drones generally weight between 0.55 pounds or 250 grams and 55 pounds. You’ll need to register these types of drones under “the exception for recreational flyers” on the FAA’s drone portal here.
There’s a common misconception that you register the actual drone under this act, however, you’re actually registering yourself with the FAA. Once you have registered yourself you’ll need to write the registration number provided on ANY drones you own that weigh over 250 grams.
Here are some example hobby drones that fits this category.
- The DJI Mavic Pro that weighs 743 grams.
- DJI Phantom 4 that weighs 3 lbs.
- Parrot Bebop 2 that weighs 500 grams.
- The Hubsan Zino Pro drone weighing in at 700 grams.
Is this registration process complicated? Not at all. It actually takes just a few minutes, it can be done online here and only costs $5. Just keep in mind that you need to be over 13 years old to go through this registration. So if you’re still a minor you’re going to have to ask your parents to do it for you.
Curious to see what these drones look like? I wrote an article that lays out the most common drones that need to be registered with the FAA.
Commercial drones that weigh over 250 grams, and under 55 pounds.
What exactly are commercial drones? Well in simple terms, any drone can become a commercial drone the second you try to monetize it. For example, if you own a Mavic Pro and you’re using it to take pictures that you’ll later sell online as stock footage, then your Mavic Pro automatically becomes a commercial drone.
Since you’re now making money with the drone you’ll be flying under the Part 107 act, which means you’ll have to go through a different registration process at the FAA drone portal.
The main difference when registering your drone under Part 107 is that you’re not registering yourself, you’re registering each aircraft individually, which means that each drone you own will need to be registered, and they’ll each get a separate registration number.
The registration process is very similar to the recreational process. Initially, you’ll go through the same steps. Once your account is set up and paid for, you’ll have an option of shopping for “UAS” inventory on your main dashboard. This “shopping process” is where you’ll add each individual commercial drone.
If you already have a recreational dashboard account then this process is a lot easier. You main account is already setup, so all you need to do is login to your main dashboard, and click on “create part 107.” Once clicked, follow the prompts and it’ll use all your exisiting information to create the part 107 dashboard. Once done, all you need to do is shop for “UAS” inventory, then you can add each drone seperately.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Commercial drones also need you to hold a valid “Remote Pilot Airman’s Certificate,” which is also known as a drone license. Keep reading for more information on drone licenses.
Register drones that weight over 55 pounds
If you’re trying to register a drone that weighs more than 55 pounds then this process will be a lot more difficult. Here is some more information on the process if you find you’re in this category.
The difference here is you have to use the paper “N-number” registration process. Its more of a thorough manual process which will take a lot longer, so don’t expect a quick online application.
What Size Drone Needs A Licence
It’s not really the size of a drone that decides if you need a license or not, it’s what you’re using the drone for. All drones that are used for commercial purposes, or to be put simply, drones that are used to make money, need a “Remote Pilot Airman’s Certificate,” which is also known as a drone license. This is true no matter how much your drone weighs, however they MUST weigh less than 55 pounds.
So in short, any drone of any size that is used for commercial purposes needs a license.
Penalty For Not Registering
If you’re thinking of skipping the registration process all-together then think again. The FAA doesn’t look upon drones flying in the air that ar registered kindly.
If you get caught, they can fine you $27,500, and if there was a crime involved with the drone, this can skyrocket to $250,000 and/or imprisonment for up to three years.