The new drone law requires old and new owners of drones to register their unmanned aircrafts with the FAA or pay a penalty. Failure to register a drone can result in civil penalties up to $27,500 and criminal penalties that include fines of up to $250,000 and three years in jail.
The new drone law went into effect yesterday, December 21, as Live Science reports. If you bought or received your drone as a gift after December 21, you must register it with the FAA before flying it. If you got your drone before December 21, you have until February 19, 2016, to register it.
“Effective December 21, 2015, anyone who owns a small unmanned aircraft of a certain weight must register with the Federal Aviation Administration’s Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) registry before they fly outdoors. People who previously operated their UAS must register by February 19, 2016. People who do not register could face civil and criminal penalties,” writes the FAA on its Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Registration website.
According to the new drone law, anyone who is 13 years of age or older must register their unmanned aircraft. For children under the age of 13, a person 13 years or older must do the registration. Drone owners must be a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident.
Drones that are required to be registered include any unmanned aircraft that weighs more than 0.55 lbs. (250 g) and less than 55 lbs. (25 kg). Drones that weigh more than 55 pounds must be registered using the Aircraft Registry process. Examples of which drones require registration and which ones do not are available in a pdf handout provided by the FAA.
To register your drone, visit the FAA registration website. The drone registration process is simple and requires an email address, your physical address and mailing address (if different from physical address) and a Credit or Debit card. The cost of registering a drone is $5 but if you register your unmanned aircraft during the first 30 days, the owner will receive a refund and it is free. “Register before midnight EST, January 20th, 2016 and your $5 registration fee will be refunded!” writes the FAA.
A drone registration is valid for three years and provides the owner with a registration number that can be used for several drones. Quite apparently, the FAA’s interest is to be in contact with the owners of drones so they can inform them about safely flying their unmanned aircrafts.
Failure to register your drone or drones according to the new law is costly and can result in thousands of dollars in fines. The FAA provides additional resources and how to label your drone on its website.