The Federal Aviation Administration announced that effective December 21, 2015, anyone who owns a UAV/UAS of a certain weight must register with the FAA’s UAS registry before they fly outdoors. People who previously operated must register by February 19, 2016. Failure to register could result in civil and criminal penalties. However, the Academy of Model Aeronautics, the largest body of aircraft modelers in the world on December 17, 2015 issued a contradictory statement (below) advising their +180k members not to register just yet. So what is the correct thing to do? This is the question everyone is asking. At this point in time there is not a single correct answer to this question and there will not be in the short-term. The safe integration and regulation of these UAS’s is going to take time and will need to clearly distinguish commercial activities from recreational activities as they differ greatly in the manner they are conducted. A one size fits all approach will not be successful.
Who must register a UAS?
The owner 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.
Which unmanned aircraft do I have to register?
Owners must register their UAS online if it meets the following guidelines:
- Weighs more than 0.55 lbs. (250 g) and less than 55 lbs. (25 kg). Unmanned Aircraft weighing more than 55 lbs. cannot use this registration process and must register using the Aircraft Registry process.
Owners must register their UAS by paper if it meets the following guidelines:
- Your aircraft is used for commercial purposes.
- Your aircraft is used for other than hobby and recreation.
- Your aircraft is greater than 55 lbs.
- You intend to operate your aircraft outside of the United States.
How do I register my UAS?
It costs only $5 to register your UAS and the process is simple and web-based. Registration is free for the first 30 days. Some things you’ll need before you get started:
- An email address
- Credit or Debit card
- Physical address and mailing address (if different from physical address)
Your registration is valid for three years. Once you receive a registration number, you can use it on all of your unmanned aircraft if they meet the online registration criteria. You must mark the registration number on all aircraft you own. Read about How to Label Your UAS (PDF).