Must Know Info: Do I Need to Register My Drone?

Flying your drone is a great way to spend the day or even just a few hours to de-stress and capture the beauty of the world around you. The key thing to do is make sure that you are following all of your local and federal aviation laws to ensure you don’t get in any sort of trouble while having fun flying your drone around. By asking yourself Do I Need to Register My Drone, you can avoid lots of headache and keep on flying.

Do I Need to Register My Drone
mgattorna / Pixabay

Okay, Where Do I Start?

Here is a little background info. In December of 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration or FAA indicated they would start enforcing registrations for drones and set forth requirements to do so. Afterward in May 2017,  a court ruling came out stating that the FAA could not govern model aircrafts. Then in 2017, Trump signed a bill that allowed the FAA to do just that-enforce registration requirements.

So what does all that mean for you? It just means that it’s better to register your drone if you need to do so as a way to avoid big fines and prison time. Find out if you need to register and just do it.

Do you need to register a drone if it is commercial? Yes. Commercial drone pilots must register each and every one of their drones separately. According to the FAA, each commercial drone must be registered individually. You must also label your aircraft with the registration number.  In terms of recreational drones, recreational pilots must register as a “modeler,” and mark the model aircraft with their registration number. You then apply that number to each of your recreational drones when you are flying.

A Weighty Matter

“Do I have to register my drone?” Say the drone enthusiasts of the world. It depends on the drone.

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Even if you have a lightweight drone, drones weighing .55-55 lbs must be registered. So even your little quadcopter must be registered, according to the FAA-that includes all unmanned aircraft.

The next thing you might wonder when you ask do you have to register a drone  is if the weight requirement for registration applies to commercial and recreational drones. The answer is YES. Even you hobbyists just doing it for fun have to comply. Also in terms of the how much your drone weighs, things you attach to the machine, like cameras and FLIR, contribute to the weight.

Keep that in mind! The reason for this is that the FAA is concerned with the drone’s weight upon takeoff. That means that anything attached to the drone must be accounted for in the total weight.

Prices, Prices

Drone registration cost is another thing us hobbyists are concerned about. After all owning and operating a drone may not always be so cheap, especially if you invest in a nice DJI Mavic or other high-end drone. A hefty registration cost is no fun. Thankfully it is not so painful when it comes to the registration of your drone-only costs $5. That is the cost for commercial and recreational drones. So even though you may dread the answer to Do drones have to be registered, you can at least feel relieved it’s cheap.

How Can I Register?

The answer to do drones have to be registered is yes, but that does not mean it has to be an inconvenient or awful process. You can easily do this right through the mail, or even right from the comfort of your own computer online.You can simply go over to FAADroneZone and follow the on-screen instructions to get your drone registered and begin flying safely. The process is very easy to follow.

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You may think that you can simply skate by and nobody will notice that your drone is not registered. Sure, you may not feel like registering. But do you have to register your drone? Yes, whether you feel like it or not. You could face civil and criminal penalties for not doing so. The FAA can assess civil penalties up to $27,500 and criminal penalties up to a quarter of a million dollars, and/or imprisonment for up to three years, states the FAA.

Don’t risk missing out on fun and having a normal life all because you could not pay $5 or register online. Just do it!

Wow, I Finally Got Registered..Now What?

The thing you need to do now is make sure that  you are always carrying around your proof of registration for your drone. According to the FAA, the operator of the [unmanned aircraft system] must carry a Certificate of Aircraft Registration.

You can do this in either a paper or electronic format, and just make sure you can pull it out to show to police and other law enforcement officials if necessary. You can even laminate it and keep it in your wallet in case-this will keep it waterproof and ready to produce at any given time.

Your next task is to make sure that you follow local laws regarding where you can fly, as well as common-sense drone safety tips. Never fly in inclement weather, for example, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Make sure that you do not fly your drone over groups of people or public events. Respect others’ privacy. And never fly near an airport.

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It may seem like real pain in the rear end to register your drone, but we promise that it is totally worth it. After all, you and the rest of your fellow drone pilots deserve to know whose drone is whose in the event they get lost, are flying on your land without your consent, or simply breaking the rules.

After all, it is just to keep the air safe and open for each and every pilot. Just take those few moments to register the drone, pay the small $5 fee, and you will never have to think about it again after that. Have fun and fly safe.

Stan D

Editor at
Stan is the editor at where we are passionate about all things Remote Control and especially Drones! We want you to know as much about them as possible before you buy and when you are getting used to them. There are a lot of questions about RC & drones and that's where we come in, to help you with relevant information.