New FAA Rules Make Drone Registration Easy for Hobbyists


dji phantom 4
The DJI Phantom 4

Great news for drone lovers!

After much speculation and confusion about the future of camera-equipped drones, new FAA rules and regulations have made the registration process easier and more transparent than ever before. The rules for hobbyists are much more lenient than the rules for commercial use, although the registration process has been streamlined for both.


If your aircraft is below 0.55 lbs. than no registration is required. Since drones with cameras generally weigh much more than that, you will probably have to register your aircraft.

If you only plan on flying for fun, than you can register as a hobbyist. When registering with the FAA, you are not registering your drone, but registering yourself as a drone owner. The $5 registration fee covers you for unlimited drones, under 55lbs. for non-commercial use.

You are no longer flying your UAS as a hobbyist if you are:

  1. Flying for commercial use- e.g. providing aerial surveying or photography services.
  2. Flying incidental to a business- e.g. doing roof inspections or real estate photography.

If you are flying your drone for commercial use the rules are more stringent. From the FAA website:

  • Must be at least 16 years old
  • Must pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center+
  • Must be vetted by the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA)

For more info on how to get your Remote Pilot Certification click here!

Once you get yourself registered, you just label your drone (pictured below) and you are legal for three years. At the end of the three year cycle, you just have to renew with another $5 payment and you are good for another three years.


To read all the fine print on the rules and regulations on the FAA’s Getting Started page, click here.

And, so this isn’t all just words and information, let’s take a quick break to see some what the new DJI Phantom 4 is made of.

Below, I have listed some of the basics of the rules for hobbyists and commercial users. Also, at the end, I included a link to the B4UFLY App that is designed prevent any mishaps or airspace safety issues.

Fly for Fun

You don’t need permission from the FAA to fly your UAS (aka drone) for fun or recreation, but you must always fly safely.

Before you fly outside you must:

  • Register your UAS if it weighs more than 0.55 pounds and less than 55 pounds
  • Label your UAS with your registration number
  • Read and understand all safety guidelines

You must be:

  • 13 years of age or older (if the owner is less than 13 years of age, a person 13 years of age or older must register the small unmanned aircraft)
  • A U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident*

* Visiting foreign nationals must register their UAS upon arrival in the United States (online registration serves as a certificate of ownership).

To register, you’ll need:

  • Email address
  • Credit or Debit card
  • Physical address and mailing address (if different from physical address)

Registration costs $5 and is valid for 3 years.

Register UAS that weigh less than 55 lbs. and more than 0.55 lbs. online

Register UAS that weigh more than 55 lbs. by paper

Label your UAS (PDF)

Safety Guidelines

  • Fly at or below 400 feet
  • Keep your UAS within sight
  • Never fly near other aircraft, especially near airports
  • Never fly over groups of people
  • Never fly over stadiums or sports events
  • Never fly near emergency response efforts such as fires
  • Never fly under the influence
  • Be aware of airspace requirements

Fly for Work/Business

Below are the basic things an operator must know for flying under the small UAS rule (14 CFR part 107):

Pilot Requirements:

  • Must be at least 16 years old
  • Must pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center+
  • Must be vetted by the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA)

    +A person who already holds a pilot certificate issued under 14 CFR part 61 and has successfully completed a flight review within the previous 24 months can complete a part 107 online training course at to satisfy this requirement.

For more information, read about Remote Pilot Certification.

Aircraft Requirements:

Operating Rules:

  • Class G airspace*
  • Must keep the aircraft in sight (visual line-of-sight)*
  • Must fly under 400 feet*
  • Must fly during the day*
  • Must fly at or below 100 mph*
  • Must yield right of way to manned aircraft*
  • Must NOT fly over people*
  • Must NOT fly from a moving vehicle*

If you are not sure if the airspace that you plan on flying in is safe and legal, the app below is the best way to ensure no hassles or dangerous areas.

B4UFLY Smartphone App

B4UFLY is available for free download in the App Store for iOS and Google Play store for Android.

B4UFLY is an easy-to-use smartphone app that helps unmanned aircraft operators determine whether there are any restrictions or requirements in effect at the location where they want to fly.

Key features of the B4UFLY app include:

  • A clear “status” indicator that immediately informs the operator about the current or planned location. For example, it shows flying in the Special Flight Rules Area around Washington, D.C. is prohibited.
  • Information on the parameters that drive the status indicator
  • A “Planner Mode” for future flights in different locations
  • Informative, interactive maps with filtering options
  • Links to other FAA UAS resources and regulatory information

For more information, view the B4UFLY Q & A (PDF).

All information in this article taken directly from the FAA website. Please click here to visit the site for more information.

TJ Hansen

Photographer at

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