Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Registration
Who must register?
Anyone who owns a small unmanned aircraft that weighs more than 0.55 lbs. (250g) and less than 55 lbs. (25kg) must register with the Federal Aviation Administration’s UAS registry before they fly outdoors. People who do not register could face civil and criminal penalties.
The owner must be:
- 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.)
- A U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident.
Which unmanned aircraft do I have to register?
Owners who fly their sUAS only as model aircraft can use one registration number on all their aircraft. Owners must register their UAS online if it meets the following guidelines:
- Weighs more than 0.55 lbs. (250 g) and less than 55 lbs. (25 kg). Unmanned Aircraft weighing more than 55 lbs. cannot use this registration process and must register using the Aircraft Registry process.
Owners must register their UAS by paper if it meets the following guidelines:
- Your Aircraft weighs more than 55 lbs
- You intend to operate your aircraft outside of the United States
- Your aircraft is owned by a trustee
- The aircraft owner uses a voting trust to meet U.S. Citizenship requirements
How do I register my UAS Online?
It costs only $5 to register your UAS and the process is simple and web-based. Your registration is valid for three years. Some things you’ll need before you get started:
- An email address
- Credit or Debit card
- Physical address and mailing address (if different from physical address)
- Once you receive a registration number, you must mark the registration number on all aircraft. Read about How to Label Your UAS (PDF).
What Can I Do With My Small Unmanned Aircraft?
Having fun means flying safely! Hobby or recreational flying doesn’t require FAA approval but you must follow safety guidelines. Any other use requires FAA authorization.
Avoid doing anything hazardous to other airplanes or people and property on the ground.
Register your aircraft if it weighs more than 0.55 lbs.
- fly a model aircraft/UAS at the local model aircraft club
- take lessons and learn to fly safely
- contact the airport or control tower when flying within 5 miles of the airport
- fly a model aircraft for personal enjoyment
- fly near manned aircraft
- fly beyond line of sight of the operator
- fly an aircraft weighing more than 55 lbs unless it’s certified by an aeromodeling community-based organization
- fly contrary to your aeromodeling community-based safety guidelines
- fly model aircraft for payment or commercial purposes
Model Aircraft Operations Limits
According to the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 as (1) the aircraft is flown strictly for hobby or recreational use; (2) the aircraft is operated in accordance with a community-based set of safety guidelines and within the programming of a nationwide community-based organization; (3) the aircraft is limited to not more than 55 pounds unless otherwise certified through a design, construction, inspection, flight test, and operational safety program administered by a community-based organization; (4) the aircraft is operated in a manner that does not interfere with and gives way to any manned aircraft; (5) when flown within 5 miles of an airport, the operator of the aircraft provides the airport operator and the airport air traffic control tower…with prior notice of the operation; and (6) the aircraft is flown within visual line sight of the operator.
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UAS Registration Q&A
Q1. Why do I need to register?
A. Federal law requires aircraft registration. Registration helps us 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. It will also help enable the return of your UAS should it be lost.
Q2. Does it cost anything to register?
A. Federal law requires owners to pay $5 to register their aircraft.
Q3. What if I have a problem or issue registering my sUAS online?
A. Email us your UAS support questions or inquiries at UAShelp@faa.gov. Live phone support is available from 10am-6pm Eastern, five days a week. Phone assistance is available at (877) 396-4636.
Q4. What is the definition of a sUAS? Is it different from a drone?
A. A UAS is an unmanned aircraft system. An sUAS is a small unmanned aircraft system weighing more than 0.55 pounds and less than55 pounds.The term drone, UAS, sUAS are considered the same for registration purposes. Public Law 112-95 sections 331(8) and 336 define an unmanned aircraft as “an aircraft that is operated without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the aircraft”. UAS and sUAS are often referred to as drones.
Q5. Do I have to register my sUAS immediately?
A. All small unmanned aircraft weighing more than 0.55 pounds must be registered prior to operation outdoors.
Q6. Does the FAA have the authority to require registration of sUAS?
A. Yes. By statute, all aircraft are required to be registered. Congress has defined “aircraft” to include sUAS, regardless of how they are operated.
Q7. What is the penalty for failing to register?
A. 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.
Q8. Will an operator be required to have proof of registration while operating a sUAS?
A. Yes. An operator will be required to have his or her FAA registration certificate in their possession when operating any unmanned aircraft. That proof of registration may be either on paper or electronic, but it must be available immediately upon request.
Q9. Does the FAA have two different aircraft registration systems?
A. Yes, there are two registration systems. The new registration system is an online, web-based system designed exclusively for small unmanned aircraft. This new registration process is quick and easy and provides the registrant with a registration certificate immediately. The FAA’s legacy registration system, which is available for manned and unmanned aircraft, requires the submission of paper documentation for registration. Registering under the paper-based system will result in N number registration, however processing time currently takes 4-6 weeks.
Q10. Where can I find information about operating my sUAS safely?
A. You can find safety and operating guidance on the FAA website at https://www.faa.gov/uas/recreational_fliers/. The unmanned aircraft systems website contains important safety guidance as well as other facts and information.
What’s covered by the new registration system?
Q11. Who may register on the new online sUAS registration website?
A. Any owners who meet U.S. citizenship requirements can register their unmanned aircraft using this new streamlined web-based process.
Q12. Are non-U.S. citizens visiting the United States on vacation or for sUAS competitions required to register?
A. All sUAS are required to be registered prior to operating outdoors. Foreign nationals who want to operate in the U.S. may use the FAA’s new online registration system. These non-U.S. citizens or non-permanent U.S. residents will receive an identical certificate as U.S. Citizens or permanent U.S. residents under the online registration platform. However, this certificate will function solely as a “recognition of ownership” document. This document is required by the Department of Transportation for foreign nationals to operate legally in the US.
Q13. Which small unmanned aircraft may be registered using the web-based system?
A. Owners of small unmanned aircraft that weigh less than 55 pounds and more than 0.55 pounds (250 grams) on takeoff, including everything that is on board or otherwise attached to the aircraft and operated outdoors must register their aircraft. These aircraft may be registered under the new, web-based registration system.
Q14. Is there a weight limit on what requires registration using the web-based system?
A. All owners of small UAS weighing more than 250 grams (0.55 pounds) and less than 55 pounds may register using this new system.
Q15. Do children’s toys need to be registered?
A. The weight of the aircraft determines whether it needs to be registered. sUAS that weigh 250 gm/0.55 pounds or less do not need to be registered. Many “toy” sUAS weigh 250g or less. You can find more information at the FAA drone zone.
Q16. What other aircraft are excluded from the registration process?
A. The FAA did not intend for rockets, unmanned free balloons, moored balloons and kites to be registered, as those devices are generally not considered “aircraft”.
Q17. I fly model aircraft that are not typically directly controlled during flight, but that can be set up to operate autonomously using various means, including on-board systems. These are collectively called “free flight” aircraft. Do I need to register them?
A. Yes, if they weigh more than 0.55 pounds. In a notice issued October 19, 2015, the Secretary and the Administrator clarified that because unmanned aircraft, including those used in model aircraft operations, are aircraft, they are subject to the statutory requirement for aircraft registration. The term “unmanned aircraft system” is set forth in broad terms to include elements required for the safe and efficient operation of the unmanned aircraft in the National Airspace System. So, while free flight aircraft are not always under direct control by a pilot during fight, these aircraft are part of an unmanned aircraft system because they contain design elements and/or devices that allow them to be controlled by on-board systems or other self-controlling mechanisms. These control devices, which enable free-flight aircraft to operate safely in the NAS, are necessarily part of an unmanned aircraft system.
Q18. Where do I register if my unmanned aircraft weighs 55 pounds or more?
A. You must register UAS, including model or radio/remote controlled aircraft, that weigh 55 pounds or more using the current paper-based system. You can find more information at:
http://www.faa.gov/licenses_certificates/aircraft_certification/aircraft_registry/. If your aircraft weighs more than 55 pounds, you may not use the web-based registration system.
Q19. I would like to fly my Radio/Remote Controlled (RC) aircraft outdoors; do I have to register it?
A. Yes, RC aircraft are unmanned aircraft and must be registered.
Q20. What about tethered sUAS?
A. Both tethered and untethered sUAS must be registered.
Q21. If I’m just flying my sUAS for fun in my yard, do I have to register it?
A. Yes, if the sUAS weight is within the stated weights for registration.
Q22. If I only fly my sUAS indoors, do I have to register it?
A. No, the FAA does not regulate indoor UAS use.
Q23. Do homemade sUAS need to be registered?
A. Yes, if they fall within the weight criteria.
Q24. Who must continue to register sUAS using the current paper-based Aircraft Registration System?
A. Any entity that wants to operate outside the U.S., anyone with a UAS weighing 55 pounds or more and anyone who wants to record a lease or security interest must continue to register under the paper-based system at this time.
Q25. Can I register a sUAS under the new system using a paper form?
A. No. The new registration system is an online web-based system only.
Q26. 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.
Q27. Is there a citizenship requirement?
A. Only United States citizens can register their sUAS through the web-based system. For non-citizens the certificate serves as a certificate of ownership, not a certificate of registration.
Q28. If I get a sUAS as a gift do I need to register?
A. Yes, the sUAS should be registered in your name and have your unique identification number displayed prior to any outdoor operations. If the name or address registered is different from yours, you should update the registration to reflect the correct name and address to aid in the return of your UAS if it is lost.
Q29. What happens if I sell my sUAS?
A. You will soon be able to update the information in your account. We strongly encourage you to remove your registration number from the sUAS before the transfer of ownership.
How to use the new registration process?
Q30. Where do I go to register my sUAS?
A. You can register electronically at the FAA Drone Zone or submit paper documentation to complete registration in accordance with the FAA’s legacy aircraft registration process. You can find more information at:
Q31. When must I register?
A. You must register prior to operating the sUAS outdoors.
Q32. What information will I be required to provide on the FAA sUAS Registration website?
If you intend to operate your sUAS for model and recreational purposes only, you must provide your complete name, physical address, mailing address (if you don’t receive mail at your physical address), and an email address. The email address will be used as your login ID when you set up your account. If you intend to operate your sUAS for purposes other than as a model aircraft, you will also be asked to provide the sUAS manufacturer, the model name and the serial number, if available, for each aircraft.
Q33. Do I have to provide any information on my sUAS?
A. Individual owners that will operate their sUAS solely for model and recreational purposes are not required to provide information about their aircraft when registering. Users who will be operating their sUAS for purposes other than as a model aircraft will be required to provide the sUAS manufacturer model name, and serial number, if available for each aircraft.
Q34. If I own multiple sUAS, do I have to register them all?
A. Owners who fly their sUAS only as model aircraft can use one registration number on all their aircraft. Owners who fly sUAS for purposes other than as a model aircraft must register each aircraft and mark each aircraft with its unique identifier provided when registering.
Q35. Why do I need to pay to register?
A. The FAA is legally required to charge a registration fee. The fee will help pay for the costs of creating the streamlined web-based registry system, and to maintain and improve this system.
Q36. Is there a registration renewal requirement for sUAS, like there is for manned aircraft?
A. Yes. Renewal is required every three years for all active aircraft. The renewal fee is $5.
Certificate of Registration
Q37. 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.
Q38. 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.
Q39. If I let someone borrow my sUAS do I have to give them the Certificate of Registration?
A. Yes, anyone who operates your sUAS 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.
Q40. 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 owners may submit information to the sUAS 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. Nonetheless, all users are encouraged to submit their information and mark their sUAS. This will facilitate the recovery of the sUAS, should it be lost or stolen.
Marking and operating your sUAS before you fly
Q41. Will my sUAS require an N-number or sticker?
A. No. You will receive a unique registration number, not an N-number, when using the web-based registration system that must be marked on the aircraft.
Q42. Is putting my AMA number on my sUAS enough?
A. No. Your aircraft must be marked with the unique FAA registration number generated during the online registration process.
Q43. Would putting my contact information on my sUAS be enough?
A. No, you must mark it with the FAA registration number.
Q44. How do I mark my unmanned aircraft with the unique registration number?
A. You may use any method to affix the number, such as permanent marker, label, engraving, or other means, as long as the number is readily accessible and maintained in a condition that is readable and legible upon close visual inspection. The number may be enclosed in a compartment that is readily accessible.
Q45. I completed my online registration in the new registration system as a commercial/non-modeler and I now possess a Small UAS registration certificate with a manufacturer name, model, and serial number. Does this mean I can fly my sUAS anywhere for my business now?
A. No. A registration certificate does not provide authorization to operate. You must obtain a “section 333” exemption for civil operations such as flights for a commercial purpose.
Q46. I completed my online registration in the new registration system as a commercial /non-modeler and now possess a Small UAS registration certificate with a manufacturer name, model, and serial number. Can I fly my sUAS for modeler (hobby/recreational) purposes with that registration, even though it has only a non-modeler registration?
A. Yes. You may use a non-model registration for either model aircraft or non-model aircraft flights. As a reminder, the registration certificate is not an authorization to conduct operations.
Q47. How high is 400 feet?
A. Typical buildings have floors that are 12-14 feet high. A 30-40 story building would be about 400 feet high. If you lose sight of your unmanned aircraft, it is probably above 400 feet.
Q48. Who can see the data that I can enter?
A. The FAA will be able to see the data that you enter. The FAA is using a contractor to maintain the website and database, and that contractor also will be able to see the data that you enter. Like the FAA, the contractor is required to comply with strict legal requirements to protect the confidentiality of the personal data you provide. Under certain circumstances, law enforcement officers might also be able to see the data. The database is not searchable at this time.
Q49. Will my email address be used for other purposes? Will you make it available to other agencies or companies?
A. No. However, the FAA may use it for safety-related notifications.
Other questions on the registry
Q50. A pilot cannot read a number on a sUAS so how will registering protect traditional aircraft?
A. Registration helps us ensure safety – for you, others on the ground, and manned aircraft. It will also help enable the return of your sUAS should it be lost and provides an opportunity for the FAA to educate sUAS owners. It also allows the FAA and law enforcement agencies a means by which to identify an aircraft’s owners.
Q51. Someone intent on harm will not register a sUAS, so doesn’t this requirement just penalize responsible people who are excited about sUAS?
A. Although no system or requirement is 100 percent effective against people intent on doing harm, registration heightens public awareness about what safe sUAS operations look like. In addition, registration establishes a shared understanding that operating this type of aircraft for business or pleasure comes with certain responsibilities and expectations and that the public will be watching for and reporting bad actors, just as they do today for other safety and security-related concerns. Registration also enables us to educate UAS owners on safe operations.
Q52. How do I find out how much my sUAS 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.
Q53. Is the weight on the box the weight of the sUAS?
A. Not necessarily. Also, if you add a camera, batteries, or anything else to the drone, it may change the weight. To be sure, you should weigh it.
Q54. If I don’t have a scale and my sUAS doesn’t appear on the list is there another method to tell how much it weighs?
A. You must accurately determine the weight of your UAS to ensure it does, or does not, need to be registered. For comparison, two sticks of butter weigh 0.5 pounds.
Q55. If a sUAS crashes in my yard what do I do?
A. Call local law enforcement. Law enforcement personnel will contact the FAA if the crash requires FAA participation.
Q56. Is there a limit to how many sUAS I can own?
Q57. Is there a limit to how many I can register?
Q58. If I register and then give the sUAS as a gift am I liable for its use?
A. Generally, for federal civil aviation law purposes, the operator of the sUAS is liable for its use.
Q59. I am a citizen of a foreign country who lives in the United States. How do I know if I can register a sUAS 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 sUAS, with the FAA.
Q60. I am a foreign citizen who would like to operate my sUAS in the United States but I do not have a United States address. For purposes of fulfilling the requirement for aircraft registration, what addresses must I provide for my permanent and mailing addresses?
A. For the next several weeks, a person with a United States address must register the small unmanned aircraft on your behalf and provide their address and payment information. The FAA will assume a bailment agreement exists between you and that person in this instance, as referenced in 14 CFR 48.25. In the coming weeks, the FAA expects to roll out an update to the web-based registration system that will allow a person to enter a foreign address.
Q61. If the State or town I live requires me to register my sUAS, do I still need to register it with the FAA?
A. Yes. Federal law requires that all aircraft, including sUAS, be registered with the FAA prior to operation in the US, in addition to any local or state registration requirements.
Q62. What do I do if I have a media inquiry?
A. Please call the Office of Public Affairs at 202-267-3883.
Q.63 How does a school (any school, university, or education institution) register online?
A. A school may register as an organization through the non-model registration option under the FAA web-based system.
Q.64 How do I transfer my model registration to non-model registration?
A. The web-based registration system does not permit this type of transfer yet. You must complete registration under non-modeler and provide specific aircraft information (i.e. manufacturer name, model number and serial number, if applicable, and then cancel your modeler registration.
Q.65 If my UAS is no longer operational, destroyed, sold, lost transferred, etc. do I need to do anything?
A. You will need to log onto the web-based registration system to notify the FAA of any changes. The ability to make changes will be available very soon.
Q.66 What operations are considered non-model?
A. Commercial, government, educational, public aircraft, partnerships etc., any other type of operation that is not limited to hobby use.
Q.67 I do not want to use a computer to register. Is there a form?
A. No, All applicants must complete the web-based registration process and must enter an email address and pay the $5 registration fee via credit card, gift card or debit card. Another person may register your aircraft in your name, or you may use the paper registration process.
Q.68 I want to fly a UAS for business purposes…do I need approval from the FAA?
A. Yes. There are presently three methods of gaining FAA approval for flying civil (non-governmental) UAS:
- Special Airworthiness Certificates – Experimental Category (SAC-EC) for civil aircraft to perform research and development, crew training, and market surveys. However, carrying persons or property for compensation or hire is prohibited. For more information, please contact the Airworthiness Certification Service, AIR-113, at 202-267-1575. 1,3
- Obtain a UAS type and airworthiness certificate in the Restricted Category (14 CFR § 21.25(a)(2) and § 21.185) for a special purpose or a type certificate for production of the UAS under 14 CFR § 21.25(a)(1) or § 21.17. 7,8
- Petition for Exemption with a civil Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) for civil aircraft to perform commercial operations in low-risk, controlled environments. For more information, please visit our Section 333 page.
Q.69 I just submitted a Petition for Exemption for my UAS. How long does the process take?
A. Due to the high volume of Section 333 petitions received, we are experiencing delays in processing petitions. We will do our best to process petitions being posted to the docket as soon as possible, and in the order they were received. We appreciate your patience as we work diligently to process your request. To inquire about the status of a petition for exemption, please email email@example.com.
- Review the UAS Registration FAQs to learn more about the program.
- Read the Aircraft Registration Records System of Records Notice (PDF).
- Read the Registration and Marking Requirements for Small Unmanned Aircraft Interim Final Rule.
- Read the Registration and Marking Requirements for Small Unmanned Aircraft Interim Final Rule Regulatory Evaluation (PDF).
- Email us your UAS support questions or inquiries at UAShelp@faa.gov. Live phone support is available from 10am-6pm Eastern, five days a week. Phone assistance is available at (877) 396-4636.
If you still have a UAS support question or inquiry, please email us at UAShelp@faa.gov.