As of Dec. 21, 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration requires all owners of model aircraft, small unmanned aircraft or drones, or other RC aircraft weighing between 0.55 and 55 pounds to register online before taking to the skies.
The online registration system will require drone owners 13 years and older to submit their name, email and home address to receive a Certificate of Aircraft Registration/Proof of Ownership. This will include a unique identification number owners must affix to any drone they own and operate exclusively for recreation. Read about how to label your drone here.
To encourage users to register quickly, registration is free for the first 30 days but will cost $5 after Jan. 20, 2016.
Anyone who purchases a small UAS on or after Dec. 21, 2015, must register before flying outdoors. Small UAS owners who have operated their aircraft exclusively as a model aircraft prior to Dec. 21, 2015, will have until Feb. 19, 2016 to register.
Registration will be valid for three years. Once registered, owners will be able to access the registration website to update the information provided to register the aircraft as well as cancel registration as circumstances require (e.g., aircraft destruction, transfer, sale, change in owner eligibility to register).
Failure to register an aircraft can result in civil penalties up to $27,500. Criminal penalties for failure to register can include fines of up to $250,000 under 18 U.S.C. 3571 and/or imprisonment up to three years.
As of March 31, 2016, public, commercial and other non-model aircraft UAS operators may use the new online registration system. During the registration process, users will have to identify whether they are operating a model aircraft for recreational purposes or operating a UAS for business or government use.
Non-model aircraft will receive a unique Certificate of Aircraft Registration for each aircraft.
Operators can still continue to use the existing paper-based registration system.