FAA Rules & Laws To Fly Drones

"The scary thing about the future... there will be tiny cameras everywhere, and they'll be flying around like mosquitoes and drones."
Matt Groening

Drone Laws

What you need to know?

Flying for Money vs Flying for Fun

First, you need to determine how you will be using the drone. FAA Rules and regulations for drones are not so strict if you use them for personal reasons (or have a smaller drone), but don't forget that you need to be aware of your actions and be preventive with accidents. If you fly for money, in most countries you'll need to register your drone and receive a certificate. The benefits of this will be seen immediately and you will be also part of an exclusive, worldwide club. For more info, please check your countries regulations.

Know the Rules

Here are some general rules of the sky: Fly at or below 400 feet, keep your drone 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, be aware of airspace requirements. As these rules change, you will be either allowed more freedom in certain situations or be more restricted and need to conform to bigger laws. Know your rights, have backups and keep aware!

Drone Registration

In some countries there is a mandatory drone registration even for recreational pilots, but in others there's not. Anyway, if you don't have to register your drone, it is very important to know and take care of general safety rules. With the laws changing all the time, its good to keep your knowledge strong and fresh with the latest. No need for unnecessary fines. Apart from the fines, you also shouldn't fly in no-fly-zones as your drone could be shot out the sky or take away from you. Not a great situation!

If something wrong has happened

If you fly your drone in public there's a chance that you're going to run into some conflict with others. Some people think that it's totally acceptable to shoot down a drone or even take it away from you. So what do you do if someone damage your drone or you damage someones property? The most important thing is to stay calm and speak with the authorities. Have their contact details on hand and as we mentioned before, know your rights. Don't get into an negative interaction as that becomes a waste of time.

General Rules (USA)

Let’s break down the most common FAA rules for flying a drone in the United States: 

Recreational Rules

  • Flying is only allowed for recreation of hobbies (this doesn’t include any form of work or side jobs).
  • Your UAV needs to be registered with the FAA on the FAADroneZone website.
  • All flying must be within the visual line of sight.
  • You are required to maintain community-based safety guidelines & fly using the programming of a nationwide community-based organisation (for instance, the AMA).
  • Your drone needs to be under the weight of 55 pounds. Alternatively, it can be certified to bypass the weight issue. This is through a community-based organization.
  • Never fly near another aircraft.
  • All your flying can only be done in Class G airspace. Wanting to fly in Class B, C, D, or even E controlled airspace needs confirmation from the airspace authority.
  • You can never fly where there are emergency response efforts in place.

Commercial Rules

  • You will need to obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate which is issued by the FAA when flying commercially.
  • Your UAV needs to be registered (with the FAA) on the FAADroneZone website.
  • Your drone needs to be under the weight of 55 pounds with its payload when you take off.
  • All your flying can only be done in Class G airspace.
  • All flying must be within the visual line of sight.
  • All flying can only be at or below 400 feet.
  • All flying is done during daylight or can be civil twilight.
  • All flying needs to be no more than 100 mph.
  • Right of way is given to manned aircraft.
  • Currently, you can not fly directly over people.
  • All flying must be done from a stationary position and not a moving vehicle.
  • There are of course special arrangements that can be made with the FAA directly for the above.

If you would like to obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate from the FAA, here are the certification requirements to fly a drone in the USA for commercial purposes.

  • Reading, writing, speaking, and understanding English fully is essential. There may be exceptions if the person has medical reasons where they can’t cover all the requirements.
  • You have to be in good shape (mentally and physically) in order to operate a small UAV safely.
  • You will need to be over the age of 16.
  • You will need to complete an Aeronautical Knowledge Test. This is also known as the Part 107 test (found at any FAA-approved knowledge testing centers).
  • There will be a Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) security screening which you will need to complete.

Not flying in the USA? See below for your countries latest drone laws.  

Check the

General Drone Regulations Database

This database is comprised of a country by country directory with summaries of each nations drone laws.