Do I need to register my drone before I fly? The answer, simply, is yes. Whether you’re flying it for recreation or for commercial purposes, every drone weighing between 0.55 pounds (250 grams) and 55 lbs (25 kg) — as well as some outside this range — must be registered with the FAA.
Drones in this weight range are formally known as sUAS, or Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems. The process to register a sUAS is quick to complete and fully online. (Drones weighing 55 pounds and up must be registered through the paper “N-number” process and cannot be flown under Part 107.)
While Skyward doesn’t offer legal advice about FAA requirements or aviation law, here’s how commercial drone operators can register aircraft under 55 pounds, based on FAA information. (Note: these steps are for commercially licensed drone pilots operating under Part 107. While the registration process for recreational flyers is similar to that of Part 107 pilots, the rules they must operate under are different.)
Drone registration requirements under Part 107
Here are a few of the basic requirements for drone registration:
- You must be at least 13 years old.
- You must be a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident.
- The cost is $5.
- Registration lasts three years.
- Once a drone is registered by its owner, any qualified pilot with permission can operate it — no need to re-register the drone with every pilot on your team.
- However, if you purchase a used drone that was previously registered by someone else, you should register the drone in your own name and replace the old registration number on the exterior of the drone.
- If you registered a drone under the rules for recreation flyers but now want to use it for commercial purposes, you will need to re-register it under Part 107 for an additional $5 registration fee.
- There are separate requirements for operators of foreign-registered drones in the U.S. Some Canadian or Mexican Nationals may be able to fly without the need for additional permission. Most other foreign-registered drones need additional permission.
10 steps to register a drone under Part 107
When you go to register your drone, you will need the following information ready: your email address, your physical address and mailing address (if different from physical address), the make and model of your drone, and your credit or debit card.
- Go to FAA DroneZone.
- Log in or create an FAA DroneZone account.
- Select the “I fly under Part 107 or as a Public Aircraft” option.
- Select “Manage sUAS Inventory”
- Select “Add UAS”
- Fill out the necessary information: UAS type, manufacturer, serial number, model, and a nickname for your aircraft. Then select “Add UAS.”
- Once you are done adding the drones you want to register, click “Done” to go to your cart. Then click “Checkout.”
- Make sure you understand the FAA requirements, then click “Next.”
- Enter your credit card information, review your order, and submit your registration.
- You will receive an order confirmation email, followed shortly by an email with your digital certificate of registration.
You will also need to mark your drone with its new FAA registration number so that it is visible on the outside of the drone. While there are few specific guidelines for this, we recommend a durable label that will not detach or wear off during flight or storage. As a reminder, each drone’s registration must be renewed every three years.
Keep your drone registration handy, either as a paper copy or digitally, every time you fly. Skyward’s Drone Management Platform allows customers to store an electronic copy so it’s right on hand when you use Skyward in the field.
Where can I find more information about Part 107, the rules and regulations for commercial drone flights?
There’s so much more to flying drones commercially than just registering your drone. It can all seem overwhelming, but that’s why Skyward’s drone experts put together a guide to help pilots get started toward a Part 107 drone pilot’s certification.