UAV Regulations and laws in USA (March 2016)
As of March 2016 to fly any type of aerial photography drone like DJI Phantom or Inspire series (the most popular ones), Yuneec, 3DR Solo, Blade Nano or Parrot for RECREATIONAL PURPOSES you must register with FAA. The registration process involves submitting your name and address via FAA website and creating an account. When that step is completed you will be given a unique number that MUST BE inscribed on the drone you fly. It doesn’t have to be on the outside of the shell, it’s ok to place it within the battery compartment (if possible). You can use a marker or write the number on a piece of paper and tape/glue it to the inner wall of the battery compartment. If you’d like to start charging for your aerial photography and cinematography services you have to apply for Exemption under Section 333.
Be careful to not get taken by services trying to charge for filing this application! As with everything else there’s a number of websites quickly emerging who offer “help” with your application and charge anything from a few dollars to even several hundred.
As by official FAA guidance there is no fee associated with petitioning for exemption. However, all aircraft operations conducted under a Section 333 grant of exemption must use a registered UAS, and there is a minimal fee associated with registration. Details are available at:
When you are done with the registering and marking of your UAV it’s time to get it in the air. To not break the law you MUST obey the following rules:
- NEVER FLY WITHIN 5 MILES of an AIRPORT. Smithsonian.com recently published an excellent interactive map with all airport locations that should absolutely avoid!
- DO NOT FLY above people or any sporting/social events that attract crowds
- DO NOT FLY above cars, highways or near buildings
- DO NOT FLY higher than 400ft
Above all laws and regulations your main concern should always be SAFETY! Please use common sense, respect wildlife and other human beings around you. Do not endanger the natural environment when flying and do not let your aircraft get out of your line of sight. DO read the MANUAL and if you are unsure whether or not you can handle your new drone yourself find a more experienced UAV pilot to help you get started.