The Federal Aviation Administration announced today that it has set up a streamlined, and user-friendly, web-based registration process for unmanned aerial vehicles used by hobbyists. Owners of units that weigh just over a half-pound (0.55 pounds) and less than 55 pounds, including payload (like an onboard camera) must register their drone.

The Registration Task Force delivered recommendations to the FAA in November, and according to the FAA announcement the new rule incorporates many of the task force recommendations.

However, those that would use a UAV for business purposes cannot use the new online service to register business drones. The agency says it is developing that to be available by spring. If you’re using your UAV for non-business purposes it will need to be registered. For now you’ll have to use the paper-based process.

Note, however if you’re flying a UAV you’ll want to at least register it soon. There is a penalty, as much as $27,500 for unregistered drone use.

You're an Aviator

In the press announcement, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, notes: “Make no mistake: unmanned aircraft enthusiasts are aviators, and with the title comes a great deal of responsibility. Registration gives us an opportunity to work with these users to operate their unmanned aircraft safely. I’m excited to welcome these new aviators into the culture of safety and responsibility that defines American innovation.”

All aircraft must be registered. Under the new rule any owner of a small unmanned aerial system who has previously operated as a model aircraft before Dec. 21, 2015, must register no later than Feb. 19, 2016. Owners of any UAS purchased for use as a model aircraft after Dec. 21 must register before the first flight outdoors.

Industry observers estimate that as many as 1 million UAS units may be given as gifts for Christmas, so this registration process is being fired up in time for the holidays.

Owners can register using the traditional paper-based system used by pilots and the FAA for decades, or you can use the new streamlined, web-based system. Owners using the web-based system must be at least 13 years old to register. You can register at

To register you’ll need to provide your name, home address and an e-mail address. When you complete the registration the system will generate a Certificate of Aircraft Registration/Proof of Ownership that will include a unique identification number for the UAS owner. That must be marked on the aircraft.

Fee Waived

Owners using the model aircraft for hobby or recreation will only have to register once and may use the same identification number for all of their model UAS. The registration is valid for three years. The normal registration fee is $5, but in an effort to encourage as many people as possible to register quickly, the FAA is waiving this fee for the first 30 days (from Dec. 21, 2015 to Jan 20, 2016).

Adds FFA Administrator Michael Huerta: “We expect hundreds of thousands of model unmanned aircraft will be purchased this holiday season. Registration gives us the opportunity to educate these new airspace users before they fly so they know the airspace rules and understand they are accountable to the public for flying responsibly.”

Full Rule

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