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FAA Opens Up Drone Registration Program


The has set up its drone registration system just in time for Christmas.


This week, the agency released more concrete details about the small unmanned aircraft registration system. Starting on Dec. 21, all individuals that own an UAS weighing between 0.55 and 55 pounds are required to register their drones online by Feb. 19.  The registration fee will be $5.00, but the FAA is making the process free for the first until Jan. 20.

Related: What the Heck Are Drones Good For, Anyway?

The FAA makes it clear registering isn't merely a friendly suggestion. "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," the agency explained in a new FAQ about the process.

Owners have to be 13 or older to register and must submit their name, email and home addresses to get a Certificate of Aircraft Registration/Proof of Ownership. Each registered owner will get its own ID number (applicable to all the drones that they own) that has to be clearly visible on the drone when it is out and about -- and it's required before the first flight. Registration is valid for three years before it has to be renewed.

Related: How Will You Register Your Drone? A Look at the Proposed Rules.

Right now, the online system is only for hobbyist drone operators, not for anyone that wants to use one for their business. This soon will be changing. The agency said in a statement it anticipates online registration for commercial purposes to be available by spring 2016. Currently anyone who is using drones for business reasons, and any drones weighing more than 55 pounds has to register with the paper system that's already in place.

The new rules are in line with the recommendations put forth by the UAS Registration Task Force last month. Administrator Michael Huerta remarked in the statement, “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.”

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