The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently published a warning to drone owners about people offering to “help” register their drones with the agency. Many of these people are charging up to $150, claiming to register your drone, when you can register directly with the FAA for just $5. You can learn to recognize these drone registration schemes, and we’ll teach you how to register your drone directly with the FAA — the only way to make sure your drone is legally registered.
FAA Drone Registration Schemes to Avoid
As with many of today’s questions, an inquiry about how to register your drone might start with a Google search. After entering your query into the search bar, numerous online resources populate the search results page. It seems like a convenient way to begin registering your drone, but many of the results are actually deceiving schemes.
Three ways you can tell that these are not official FAA websites:
- They do not link to the official FAA.gov domain.
- They are all paid advertisements, indicated by the green box that says ‘Ad’ next to the url.
- They offer annual contracts or annual renewal pricing.
Official drone registration will take place on the FAA.gov website. A .gov domain name registration is limited to federal, state, local, and tribal government organizations within the United States. If you look at the search results above, they all point to .com and .net websites. The last search result shown [www.faadronezones.com/gov] attempts to trick the viewer by listing /gov as the path after .com; however, this is still a .com domain and is not an official FAA website.
The second tip off that these are schemes is the paid advertisement indicator. At this time, the FAA is not posting paid ads for drone registration.
And the last indicator that these entities are trying to deceive drone owners is that they offer annual contracts or annual renewal pricing. The official FAA registrations lasts for three years and only requires a one-time, $5.00 fee for each drone every three years.
Below, you will see search results for the official FAA website. The first links to an informational web page published by the FAA about how to register your drone, and the second links to the actual drone registration website, FAA Drone Zone. Notice that these search results link to .gov domains and are not paid advertisements.
How do I register my drone the right way?
To register your drone the right way, you will register directly with the FAA online or by mail.
Online Registration Through the FAA Drone Zone
To register online, visit https://faadronezone.faa.gov. Drones under 55 pounds (lbs.) can be registered online through the FAA Drone Zone. To register online, you will need the following:
- Email address
- Credit or debit card
- Physical address and mailing address (if different from physical address)
- Make and model of your unmanned aircraft.
The actual registration fee is $5 per aircraft and is valid for three years.
Mail-in Registration for Drones over 55 lbs.
To register a drone over 55 lbs., you will need to mail the required documents to the FAA, Aircraft Registration Branch. More information on how to register a drone over 55 lbs. under 14 CFR Part 47 is available on the FAA Aircraft Registry web page.
What are the drone registration requirements?
Commercial drone operators and hobbyists/recreational drone operators are both required to register their drones. Any drone weighing between .55 lbs (250 grams) and up to 55 lbs. (25 kg) must be registered with the FAA under the Small UAS Rule Part 107. Any unmanned aircraft weighing 55 lbs or more must be registered under 14 CFR Part 47.
Once registered, hobbyists receive one identification number for all the drones they own. All others pay the registration fee for each drone they intend to operate. Once you receive your identification number, you must label your unmanned aircraft with that number
In closing, we recommend that all drone operators heed the FAA’s advice:
“We strongly advise you to avoid registering your unmanned aircraft anywhere but at the FAA Drone Zone. It’s the only way to make sure your drone is legally registered and that you’ve gotten your money’s worth.”
If you have more questions about drone certification, check out our drone pilot forum.