Whether you just purchased your first drone or flying for work, it's important to be aware of the drone laws in the area.
In this article, we'll go over drone laws that cover the entire United States of America, before getting to the drone laws for individual states.
First Thing's First: Register Your Drone
In the United States, you are required to register your drone before you fly, if it weighs between 250g (0.55 lbs) and 25kg (55lbs), which most drones do.
You can register your drone online here.
How Drone Law is Structured in America
Drone laws in America are divided into 3 levels: Federal, State, and Local. Federal laws apply to every part of the US while state laws apply to the respective state and local laws apply only in the city or area specified.
Hobbyists Vs Commercials
Reason for flight can be divided into 2 categories: hobbyist and commercial.
- Hobbyists flyers: those that fly drones recreationally and does not receive any form of compensation.
- Commercial flyers: those that fly drones for work or receive some form of compensation for it.
While most drone laws apply to both hobbyist and commercial flyers, one key difference is that in order to fly commercially, a part 107 license is required. With the part 107 license, you have the ability to submit requests to waive certain restrictions if required for work.
Drone Laws for Content Creators
The use of drone footage in Youtube videos, Instagram, and other social media platforms have grown substantially in the past decade and many content creators are confused as to which drone laws apply to them.
As mentioned in the previous section, if you are monetizing your drone footage in any shape or form, then it is considered commercial. If you are not receiving anything, you're categorized under the hobbyist drone laws. However, if you plan on receiving monetary compensation in the future, then this is also considered commercial.
Federal Drone Laws United States of America
Federal Drone Laws for Hobbyist
If you’re flying your drone for personal or recreational use or fun, you are bound to follow the FAA guidelines.
Here’s a point-wise summary of some FAA federal drone laws for hobbyists.
- Your drone must be registered if it weighs more than 0.55lb (250g).
- You will not receive any kind of monetary compensation and your intention must be to fly for recreational purposes.
- You are only allowed to fly in Class G airspace (400ft & below). If you intend to fly in other areas, you are required to obtain authorization on this behalf from the LAANC.
- You are required to keep your drone within the visual line of sight.
- You can fly at night if your operation meets the requirements of the new final rule on the operation of unmanned aircraft.
- You are not allowed to fly near manned aircraft.
- You are allowed to fly over moving vehicles or public if your operation met the certain requirements of the new final rule of 2021 on the operation of small unmanned aircraft.
- Must yield right of way to other aircrafts
- Maximum groundspeed of 100 mph (87 knots).
- There should be minimum weather visibility of 3 miles from the control station.
- Operations in Class B, C, D, and E airspace are allowed with the permission of ATC.
- You are not allowed to act as a remote pilot in command or visual observer for more than one small unmanned aircraft operation at one time.
- You must not carry hazardous material on drones.
- A person is not allowed to operate an aircraft if she/ he has a reason to believe that there exists any mental or physical condition which will affect the safe operation of a small UAS.
- You may fly your foreign-registered aircraft under part 107 if that meets the requirements of part 375.
- You are not allowed to fly near emergency response like disaster relief, law enforcement, firefighters, etc.
- You are banned to fly under the influence. For example, you are not allowed to fly while you are drunk.
- You can fly from moving vehicles if you met the certain requirements of the new final rule of 2021 on the operation of unmanned aircraft.
Federal Drone Laws for Commercials
If you intend to fly your drone for commercial purposes, the rules are a bit different from Hobbyists but generally similar.
Follow these rules if you’re flying your drone for work:
- Your Drone must be less than 55lb including payload.
- Your Drone must be registered under “Fly SUAS under Part 107”
- You must have a Part 107 License.
- You must have a remote pilot certificate and for that, you have to pass the FAA Aeronautical Knowledge Test.
- Here are some conditions for obtaining a remote pilot certificate
- You must be able to communicate in English.
- Your physical and mental conditions must be fit.
- You must be at least sixteen years old.
- You must have passed an Aeronautical Knowledge Test from the testing center.
- You can't fly your drones near airports.
- You are allowed to fly at night, over moving vehicles, or over the public, if your operation meets the requirements of the new final rule of 2021 on the operation of unmanned aircraft.
- You must fly in Class G airspace.
- You must ensure the right of way to manned aircraft.
- You are allowed to fly your drone in Class B, C, D with the permission of ATC.
- You can't fly from moving vehicles unless your operation meets certain requirements of the new final rule of 2021 on the operation of unmanned aircraft.
- You are allowed to fly over the public if your operation meets the requirements of the new final rule of 2021 on the operation of unmanned aircraft.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you need a license to fly a drone in USA?
You do not need a license to fly a drone in the USA if you are flying for recreational purposes. If you are flying your drone for work or will receive any form of monetary compensation, you are required to have a part 107 license.
Can you fly a drone over someone's house?
There are no federal laws that prevent you from flying a drone over someone's house. However, we strongly suggest checking the state and local drone laws of your area before flying a drone over someone's house.
What happens if you fly a drone above 400 feet?
There are no physical limitations that prevent you from flying a drone above 400 feet. However, some drones have an altitude restriction setting that can stop the drone from elevating over a set altitude. Federal drone laws state that you cannot fly your drone above 400 feet so there may be severe consequences if you do.
Can you legally fly a drone at night?
You can legally fly a drone at night if it meets certain conditions. The drone must be equipped with lighting that allows it to easily be identified and you must maintain constant line of sight while flying.
Can airport radar detect drones?
Yes, airport radars can detect drones and any other airborne objects if it is above a certain size.