Got a drone for Christmas? Don't forget the thank-you card or your FAA registration

Jeff Baxter Iowa Real Estate & Land Use Dickinson Law Des Moines Iowa

Posted on 12/16/2015 at 03:55 PM by Jeffrey Baxter

Beginning December 21, 2015, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will have a website available dedicated to the registration of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) weighing more than .55 pounds (250 grams) and less than 55 pounds (~25 kilograms) recreational and hobbyist operators. The website is: On October 19, 2015 the FAA issued a notice clarifying that the statutory requirements for aircraft registration apply to UAS's. This definition includes many of the drones commonly used by farmers, businesses, hobbyists and the general public for recreational use. The weight limits generally exclude those small cost (less than $100) children's toys, but any drone that weighs in excess of .55 pounds, including any camera equipment, must be registered.

Those owners/operators of drones in the .55 pound to 55 pound range that use the drones for commercial purposes and those drones that are in excess of the 55 pound maximum, must use the current paper registration system. Only those drones weighing more than .55 pounds (250 grams) and less than 55 pounds (~25 kilograms) and operated by recreational and hobbyist operators can use the online registration system. Owners using the drone for hobby or recreation will only have to register once and may use the same identification number for all of their model UAS. The registration is valid for three years. Once registered, the FAA will provide the operator a FAA registration certificate which must be kept with the drone and available anytime the drone is being operated.

The registration number must be affixed to the drone following registration. Failure to register a drone subject to registration could subject the operator to regulatory and criminal sanctions. The FAA may assess civil penalties up to $27,500 and criminal penalties including fines of up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment for up to three years. The cost of registration with the online system is $5, but that fee is being waived for registrations within the first 30 days, through January 20, 2016. So while you may forget to send that thank-you card to your Uncle Tom for the cool present, don't forget to register that drone with your Uncle Sam, or there could be consequences. Keep in mind that this online registration system is not the only regulation pertaining to drone use, both the FAA and the Iowa Department of Transportation further regulate the use of drones.

It is essential that business operators understand the requirements. If you have any questions concerning drone use in Iowa, either agricultural, commercial or recreational, please contact us.

The material in this blog is not intended, nor should it be construed or relied upon, as legal advice. Please consult with an attorney if specific legal information is needed.

- Jeff Baxter


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