Do you own a hobby drone in the US? The FAA requires that you register it with them by February 19, 2016. It only costs $5, but today is the last day to register it for free.
Back in December, the FAA announced that all drones weighing more than half a pound and less than 55 pounds have to be registered. Anything weighing more than 55 pounds has to be registered as a proper aircraft. So if you’ve got a Reaper drone in your backyard you’ll have to fill out an aircraft registry form.
Today is the last day to register your hobby drone “for free,” but you’ll still need to pony up the $5 before they issue you a refund. The whole process can be done online and requires an email address, a credit or debit card, and a physical address and mailing address.
If you’re planning on using your drone for commercial purposes—such as photographing weddings, photographing wedding rehearsals, photographing wedding receptions, or practicing vigilante justice for a fee—you’re required to register by paper.
Once the FAA gives you your registration number you’re required to mark that number on your drone. I suggest using purple crayon. Not registering your drone and marking it with the registration number could result in hefty fines of up to $27,500.
Of course, some people aren’t too happy that the government is collecting a database of every drone in the US. In fact, it’s still not clear whether the list of drone users and their addresses will be made public, though you can be certain it will eventually get hacked. But there’s really no such thing as the Drone Lobby or an equivalent to the NRA, so drone hobbyists are out of luck on this one.
“Make no mistake: unmanned aircraft enthusiast are aviators, and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility,” US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a press release. “Registration gives us an opportunity to work with these users to operate their unmanned aircraft safely.”
So good luck, drone-operating friends. I mean… aviators. With great drones comes great responsibility.