The Federal Aviation Administration in the US estimates that there will be more than 4 million drones by 2021, both for commercial and individual purposes. This raises numerous safety concerns but, while not everyone has the resources to become a pilot, a drone can be lots of fun.
However, even for civilian purposes, drones are subject to numerous laws. These depend on the country of residence or state you live in, so make sure you consult the relevant legislation when considering using a drone. The next sections cover the main requirements for drone registration in several English-speaking countries.
Why Is Drone Registration Important?
Drone registration is a prerequisite in many countries and, similar to the purpose of other types of legislation, it is important for safety reasons. More and more people buy and use flying drones and most of these individuals do not have any knowledge or education regarding safe airspace practices or how to safely fly such aircraft. Unfortunately, many accidents have already occurred before the new laws were approved.
In addition to protection, drone registration enables competent authorities to track down reckless or malicious flyers. This can further lead to stopping them before causing any considerable damage or injuries to others.
Another benefit of registering the device is that the registration number can be used to track down the drone if it is lost. Also, if the manufacturer recalls the model due to faults in its design, the owner can be notified by the authorities.
The drone registration process can be as quick as spending 3 minutes to fill in a few fields. This, however, depends on the country of residence. Before flying your drone, it is important to check the local regulations regarding drones or other aircraft.
In the USA, drone registration is under the authority of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Drones, also known as Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), must be registered either under part 107 or the Exception for Recreational Flyers.
As it might suggest, part 107 refers to professional or commercial purposes, while the Exception for Recreational Flyers regards flying drones for fun. Drones under part 107 can also be flown under the Exception for Recreational Flyers, but not vice-versa.
All drones that weigh more than 0.55 lbs must be registered under one of the two categories. The registration process requires access to a valid email address, a physical address, the make and model of the drone (if under part 107 only), and a credit or debit card to pay the fee. The registration costs $5 per drone under either of the two categories and it lasts for 3 years.
Drone registration in the US requires the applicant to be at least 13 years old, a US citizen, or a permanent resident. The application can be done online via FAA DroneZone for drones that weigh up to 55 lbs. It may also be registered via mail. Before flying the drone, it is compulsory to mark it with the registration number and follow all the requirements regarding safe drone flying in the US.
Until 30 May 2022, drones used for entertainment and fun do not require registration. After this date, all drones must be registered if they weigh more than 250g (0.55 lbs).
If you fly the drone for professional purposes or as part of your work, the drone must be registered regardless of its weight and type of service, such as taking photos or videos, inspecting infrastructure, equipment, or construction sides, R&D purposes, monitoring or as a security system.
Civil Aviation Safety Authority requires applicants to be at least 16 years old to register their drone. Also, people without a remote pilot license (RePL) need an RPA operator accreditation along with drone registration.
The process can be done online using myCASA. Required documents include proof of identity, a myCASA account, an aviation reference number (ARN), and the make, model, weight, serial number, and type of drone.
In case the drone is registered for business use, there might be required to get an organization ARN. This allows other employees to use the drones registered with the authority.
Canada implemented drone registration in June 2019. Drones with a weight less than 250g (0.55 lbs) do not require registration, while drones that exceed 25 kg (55.11 lbs) require a special flight operations certificate instead of registration. In the case of flying a drone that is not registered, the fine is up to $1,000 for individuals and $5,000 for businesses.
The process can be done online via the Drone Management Portal and it takes approximately 3 minutes. There is a $5 fee; the applicant is required to provide the make, serial number, model, type of drone, and weight. Additionally, it is important to choose one of the two sign-in options: your online banking login, or a Government of Canada login, known as GCKey.
Most models of drones or aircraft must be registered before using them outdoors. The flyer must pass a theory test in order to receive a flyer ID, while people who are responsible for drones must also get an operator ID. Both documents can be released at the same time.
Small drones that are considered “toys” and below 250g (0.55 lbs) or in the C0 class do not require registration. If the device is in the C0 class and has no camera, it doesn’t need the document either, regardless of whether it is considered a toy or not. Finally, drones that are below 250g (0.55 lbs) without a camera and class mark are also exceptions.
Unfortunately, there is no standard guideline regarding the classification of a drone as a “toy”. It is likely to be one if:
- It was bought from the toys section in a supermarket or other retailer
- The product was advertised to children
- The recommended age on the package is less than 14 years old
- The manufacturer or retailer describes the drone as a toy
The flyer ID is released to the person who flies the gadget. In order to pass, the applicant must prepare for the theory test. This is also valid in the case of children under 13 years old but, due to data protection purposes, they must register along with their parent or guardian.
If the flier is younger than 12 years old, they must be supervised when flying the drone after receiving the flyer ID. The supervisor must be at least 16 years old and they should also have a flyer ID. In simple words, the supervisor (parent or guardian) must also prepare and take the theory test, even though they do not intend to fly the drone themselves.
The operator is defined as the person who manages and takes care of the drone. Also, it is their responsibility to ensure that the person who flies it has a valid ID. In most cases, the operator is the owner of the gadget, either a person or a business. However, children under the age of 18 must ask their parents or guardians to apply for an operator ID.
The operator must label the drone with their ID. Also, one operator can use this ID for as many drones as they desire.
Drone registration in the UK is free when applying for the flyer ID and is valid for up to 5 years. An operator ID is £9 and must be renewed after 1 year.
Finally, the current legislation for drone registration makes insurance compulsory under certain circumstances.
If the drone is below 20kg (44.1 lbs), it must have third-party insurance only if it is not used as a hobby or recreation, while heavier models must be insured no matter what the purpose is.
New Zealand requires certification only in specific circumstances. The main decisive factors of drone registration are:
- The drone is less than 25kg (55 lbs)
- Flying takes place only during the day
- The drone must remain visible by the naked eye at all times
- Maximum fly height is 120 meters (400 feet)
- The zone is not a no-fly area
- Must obtain consent from property owners
In case the drone owner cannot comply with these requirements, it is possible to obtain a Part 102 unmanned aircraft operator certificate. This allows operation during the night, or if it is more than 25 kg, among others.
In order to obtain the certificate, the drone flyer must prove how they can minimize the risks associated with their particular activity, such as flying at night. Each application is carefully considered; it consists of a manual presented by the owner in which they identify the risks associated with their activity and indicate clear ways of mitigating them.
Drone registration depends on the country of living. Most regions of the world have established clear rules for unmanned aircraft because of the dangers posed by a lack of knowledge or ability to fly it safely. Failing to comply with these requirements can lead to significant fines or might even result in prison sentences, depending on each country. In addition to this, it is important to consult local legislation even if a child will use the drone – in most cases, they are still required to obtain registration.