With the rapid growth in both personal and commercial use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), more commonly known as drones, the Federal Aviation Administration decided to require that owners register the aircraft vehicles. The proliferation of un-monitored and untracked objects flying in the skies makes it challenging for the FAA to ensure the safety of commercial planes. Without any type of registration process that explains how to register a drone, the potential exists for illegal use and even terrorist acts to be committed using such devices.
As of December 21, 2015, anyone who wishes to fly their drone outside must register the vehicle with the FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS). Those who to not complete the official registration process may face civil and even criminal penalties.
If you’re a private investigator who is using a UAV for surveillance or aerial photography, we recommend signing up to protect yourself, your business and your clients. The fee is minimal but the penalties may be substantial, so it makes good sense to sign up as required.
Who is required to register?
Anyone who owns a drone and wishes to fly the vehicle outdoors must register. Individuals who are 13 years of age or older must register their own device. If an individual is younger than 13, then someone who is older than 13 (preferably a parent or legal guardian) must sign up for them. This applies to all United States citizens and legal residents.
Which devices are affected by this requirement?
This applies to all drone devices that weigh more than .55 pounds (or 250 grams) and less than 55 pounds. Those who own unmanned aircraft that weigh more than 55 pounds must be registered via the aircraft registry process.
Owners are required to register by paper if they plan to use the equipment for certain purposes, such as for commercial use, or if they plan to use it outside of the United States.
How much does it cost? Are any other costs involved?
During the introductory period, registration is free for the first thirty days (until January 20, 2016). After the introductory period, the cost is $5.00. We feel this is a reasonable fee, given that many drones cost in the hundreds and even thousands of dollars.
Currently, there are no other costs involved.
How to Register
The registration process is easy to understand and follow and can be completed online. To learn more and complete the official registration process, visit the Federal Aviation Administration website at https://www.faa.gov/uas/registration/. Follow the instructions on the website to get started.
Where to get Help
If you need assistance with the registration process, send an email UAShelp@faa.gov. Live phone support became available starting December 25th, 2015 and is available seven days a week from 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM Eastern time. Phone assistance is also available at 844-244-3565.
If you have any questions about how to register a drone, please leave a comment below.
Related: Learn how drones are used by Law Enforcement and Private Investigators to conduct surveillance and search-and-rescue missions.