UAV Rules & Regulations

When talking about drones, the most common topic that new users ask about is the rules and regulations around flying. Below is a simple overview as well as some links to various resources to learn more. The rules are broken into two categories, flying for fun and flying for work / business.

Flying for Fun

Flying for fun has the lesser amount of regulations, but still requires following some rules. To qualify as flying for fun means you are not being paid to fly, you are not selling the resulting collected data or using that data for commercial purposes. 

The rules around flying for fun requires that you:

  • Register your UAS if it weighs more than 0.55 pounds and less than 55 pounds
  • Label your UAS with your registration number. Registration costs $5, requires credit card, address and is valid for 3 years.
  • Read and understand all safety guidelines
  • Are 13 years of age or older (if the owner is less than 13 years of age, a person 13 years of age or older must register the small unmanned aircraft)
  • Are A U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident*

The Safety Guidelines for Flying for Fun are:

  • Fly at or below 400 feet
  • Keep your UAS within sight
  • Never fly near other aircraft, especially near airports
  • Never fly over groups of people
  • Never fly over stadiums or sports events
  • Never fly near emergency response efforts such as fires
  • Never fly under the influence
  • Be aware of airspace requirements

Note: Because of the "keep your UAS within sight" rule, flying FPV (including drone racing) does NOT fall under the "Flying for Fun" guidelines. (I agree, that sucks.)

Click here to learn more directly from the FAA on Flying for Fun.

Flying for Work / Business

Flying for work / business purposes just got a lot easier as of August 29th 2016 with the introduction of the new Part 107 Rule. In short, you must pass a test on aeronautical knowledge (similar to the written portion of the drivers exam) and you will be allowed to fly within the operating rules below. All of the rules below can be circumvented by submitting a waiver and working with the FAA for approval.

Requirements to Fly for Work / Business

  • Must be at least 16 years old
  • Must pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center
  • Must be vetted by the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA)
  • Aircraft must be less than 55lbs and registered

Operating Rules

  • Class G airspace
  • Must keep the aircraft in sight (visual line-of-sight)
  • Must fly under 400 feet
  • Must fly during the day
  • Must fly at or below 100 mph
  • Must yield right of way to manned aircraft
  • Must NOT fly over people
  • Must NOT fly from a moving vehicle

All of the rules listed can be circumvented by submitting a waiver.

Click here to learn more directly from the FAA on Flying for Work / Business.

Additional Resources

Below are some links to help fly safely. Also the FAA has a great section on Unmanned system (most of this content is from there) that is worth looking through.