It’s Time to Register Your Quadcopter/Drone

Just in time for Christmas giving—

The Department of Transportation launched an online registration process for quadcopters/drones, requiring that all drone owners register. (See exception for “toys” below.) Because they are the government DOT prefers the term UAS or unmanned aircraft system. Online registrations won’t begin until December 21, 2o15 and for anyone registering during the first month, the $5 registration fee will be refunded.


Here’s some general FAQ I’ve summarized from their website: (You can click the link to get the full deal.)


Q. What is the definition of a UAS? Is it different from a drone?

A. UAS is an unmanned aircraft system. For registration purposes, a drone and a UAS are the same to the FAA. If your drone weighs more than 0.55 lbs. you must register using the current paper based system at:

Q: Does the FAA have the authority to require registration of UAS used by modelers and hobbyists?

A: Yes. By statute all aircraft are required to register. Congress has defined “aircraft” to include UAS, regardless of whether they are operated by modelers and hobbyists.

Q: What is the penalty for failing to register?

A: Failure to register an aircraft may result in regulatory and criminal sanctions. The FAA may assess civil penalties up to $27,500. Criminal penalties include fines of up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment for up to three years.

Q: Will an operator be required to have proof of registration while operating the UAS?

A: Yes. You will be required to have your FAA registration certificate in your possession when operating your unmanned aircraft.

Q. Why do I need to register?

A. Federal law requires aircraft registration. Registration helps ensure safety – for you, others on the ground, and manned aircraft and allows them to be traceable in the event of an incident. It should also help enable the return of your UAS should it be lost. You can find safety and operating guidance on the internet at The unmanned aircraft systems website contains important safety guidance as well as other facts and information.


What about toys? You must be 13 years of age or older before you are permitted to register an unmanned aircraft. If the owner is less than 13 years of age, then a person who is at least 13 years of age must register the unmanned aircraft. And all children’s toys don’t need to be registered.

If a quadcopter/drone weighs less than 0.55 lb. or less it doesn’t have to be registered. The FAA has identified most “toys” having a purchase price of $100 or less and they have been determined to weigh less than 0.55 lb. You can find more information and specific quadcopters/drones show (see above) in a Recreational UAS Weights document (PDF). Lucky me. My UDI Disovery quadcopter is exempt from the registration.

Author: Joe Farace

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