Let’s talk about the R/C FAA Drone Registration FAQ’s

RC FAA Drone Registration

Common questions about registering your R/C (remote control) Aircraft.

General sUAS (small Unmanned Aircraft System) RC Aircraft FAQ’s

Q1. Do I need to Register my R/C (remote control, RC) Aircraft even if it’s a toy or hobby plane?

A.  Yes. A RC aircraft is an unmanned aircraft system. An RC plane, drone and sUAS are the same for registration purposes.

Q2. When must you complete your registration?

A. All existing aircraft must be registered and labeled before flight.

Q3. What if you are an AMA member?

A. An AMA (Academy of Model Aeronautics) membership number is not the same as an FAA Certificate of Registration number. You must have an FAA Registration number.

Q4. Do I have to register each of my RC aircraft separately ?

A. No. For those that have many of aircraft, you only register once. You will receive a registration number that must be labeled on all your aircraft.

Q5. 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.

Q6. What is the penalty for failing to register?

A. The FAA states that 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.

Q7. 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.

Q8. Why do I need to register?

A. Federal law requires aircraft registration. Registration helps the FAA ensure safety – for you, others on the ground, and manned aircraft. UAS pose new security and privacy challenges and must be traceable in the event of an incident.

Q9. Is there a minimum age requirement?

A. Yes. 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.

Q10. Is there a citizenship requirement?

A. Only United States citizens can register their small UAS. The certificate serves as a certificate of ownership for non-citizens, not a registration certificate.

Q11. Do I have to register a paper airplane, or a toy balloon or Frisbee?

A. No. Even if these things could be considered “drones” or “unmanned aircraft” and met the minimum weight threshold of 250 gm/0.55 lb., the registration rules also require that they be a part of an “unmanned aircraft system.” An “unmanned aircraft system” includes the communication links and components that control the small unmanned aircraft along with all of the other elements needed to safely operate the drone. Paper airplanes, toy balloons, Frisbees, and similar items are not connected to such control system.

Q12. Is the registration process different if you’re a business versus a person?

A. Registering Drones for Commercial Business requires each drone to have a unique and separate drone registration number.

Q13. What about tethered RC aircraft?

A. Both tethered and untethered UAS must be registered.

Q14. If I’m just flying it for fun in my yard, do I have to register it?

A. Yes, if the UAS weight is within the stated weights for registration.

Q15. If I only fly it indoors, do I have to register it?

A. No, the FAA does not regulate indoor UAS use.

Q16. Do homemade RC aircraft need to be registered?

A. Yes, if they fall within the weight criteria.

Q17. Will the requirement apply to UAS that I owned and operated before the registration process existed?

A. Yes. Owners who purchased or built their UAS prior to Dec. 21, 2015 will have 60 days to register.

Q18. Who must continue to register unmanned aircraft using the current paper-based Aircraft Registration System?

A. Any types of entities other than individual hobbyists (corporations, co-ownerships, partnerships, non-citizen corporations, and government), any small unmanned aircraft operating commercially or for reasons other than recreational or hobby, anyone wanting to operate outside the U.S., anyone with a UAS weighing 55 pounds or more and anyone wanting to record a lease or security interest must continue to register under the paper-based system at this time.

Q19. Can I register a UAS under the new system using a paper form?

A. The new registration system is an online web-based system only, but you may use the older paper-based system if you prefer.

Q20. Is there a minimum age requirement?

A. Yes. 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.

Q21. If I get a RC aircraft as a gift do I need to register?

A. Yes, unless the drone already has been registered in your name and you have the unique identification number. If the name or address registered is different from yours, you should update the registration to your name and address to aid in the return of your UAS if it is lost.

Q22. What happens if I sell my RC aircraft?

A. You should log on to the registration website and update your registration information. We also strongly encourage you to remove your registration number from the drone before the transfer of ownership.

Q24. When must I register?

A. You must register prior to operating the UAS outdoors.

Q25. If I own multiple UAS, do I have to register them all?

A. No. You may register once and apply the same registration number to all your UAS with the appropriate label.

Q26. What should I expect once I complete my registration on the UAS website?

A. You will receive a unique registration number that applies to any and all UAS that you own. You must mark all of your UAS with the unique registration number before operating. A registration certificate that contains the unique FAA registration number, the issue and expiration dates, and the name of the certificate holder will be sent to your email address immediately.

Q27. How do I prove I am registered?

A. A certificate of registration will be available to download and will be sent to your email address at the time of registration. When operating your UAS you must be able to present the certificate in either print or electronic format if asked for proof of registration.

Q28. Do I have to have a printout of my certificate with me?

A. No. If you are asked to show your certificate of registration, you can show it electronically. You do not have to print the certificate.

Q29. If I let someone borrow my drone do I have to give them the Certificate of Registration?

A. Yes, anyone who operates your drone must have the Certificate of Aircraft Registration in their possession. You can give them a paper copy, email it to them, or they can show it electronically from the registration website.

Q30. Why does the certificate I received constitute recognition of registration for US citizens and permanent residents, but only recognition of ownership for foreign nationals? Have I complied with the requirement to register?

A. All users can submit information to the UAS registry; however, the law only permits the FAA to register aircraft belonging to United States citizens and permanent residents. For all others, the certificate received from the registry comprises a recognition of ownership, rather than a registration. Foreign nationals who have completed the recognition of ownership process and wish to receive a rebate for the $5 registration fee may contact the FAA. Nonetheless, all users are encouraged to submit their information and mark their UAS. This will facilitate the recovery of the UAS, should it be lost or stolen.

Marking and operating your UAS before you fly

Q31. Will my drone require an N-number or sticker?

A. No. You will receive a unique registration number, not an N-number, and you must mark the registration number on your UAS by some means that is legible and allows the number to be readily seen. The registration number may be placed in a battery compartment as long as it can be accessed without the use of tools.

Q32. Is putting my AMA number on my drone enough?

A. No. Not at this time. The registration system will generate a unique FAA registration number, which you must mark on your aircraft.

Q33. Would putting my contact information on my drone be enough?

A. No, you must mark it with the FAA registration number.

Q34. How do I mark my unmanned aircraft with the unique registration number?

A. We recommend using our premium label. Labels must be durable and in a place which can be viewed without the use of tools.

Q35. A pilot cannot read a number on a drone so how will registering protect traditional aircraft?

A. A registration requirement encourages a culture of accountability and responsibility. Much like registering a motor vehicle, registering a drone ties a specific person to a specific aircraft. Greater accountability will help protect innovation, which is in danger of being undermined by reckless behavior. This requirement mirrors the requirement for manned operations and commercial UAS operations.

Q36. How do I find out how much my drone weighs?

A. A consumer kitchen or postal scale that measures in ounces or grams is an easy and convenient method. The weight limit is only for the flying portion of the Unmanned Aircraft System and does not include the weight of the controller.

Q37. Is the weight on the box the weight of the drone?

A. Not necessarily. If you add a camera or anything else to the drone, it may change the weight. To be sure, you should weigh it.

Q38. If I don’t have a scale and my drone doesn’t appear on the list is there another method to tell how much it weighs?

A. Two sticks of butter weigh 0.5lbs.

Q39. If a drone crashes in my yard what do I do?

A. Call local law enforcement.

Q40. Is there a limit to how many drones I can own?

A. No

Q41. If I register and then give the drone as a gift am I liable for its use?

A. Laws governing liability for damage caused by drones vary by state. If the gift recipient is a minor, in some states you might have some liability if the drone causes damage. For federal civil aviation law purposes, the operator of the drone is liable for its use.

Q42. I am a citizen of a foreign country who lives in the United States. How do I know if I can register a drone with the FAA?

A. Federal law allows an individual citizen of another country who has been lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States under the regulations of the Department of Homeland Security to register an aircraft, including a drone, with the FAA.

Q43. If the State or town I live requires me to register my drone, do I still need to register it with the FAA?

A. Yes. Federal law requires that all aircraft, including drones, be registered with the FAA prior to operation in the US.

The FAA asks you to remember these rules when you fly:

• Always fly below 400 feet altitude.
• Always keep your unmanned aircraft in sight at all times.
• Never fly near manned aircraft, especially near airports.
• Never fly within 5 miles of an airport.
• Never fly over groups of people, stadiums or sporting events.
• Never fly near emergency response efforts.
• Never fly under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
• Always be aware of FAA airspace  Temporary Flight Restrictions.