The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has instituted a mandatory registration program for owners of small unmanned aircraft systems (UASs), more commonly known as drones.
Effective December 21, 2015, all drones weighing more than 0.55 pounds (250 grams) and less than 55 pounds (25 kilograms) must be registered through the FAA’s new UAS registry before being flown outdoors. Registrants must be at least 13 years of age and a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident.
The new registration requirements apply with immediate effect to all drones purchased as of the effective date of the registry. Drones operated prior to the effective date must be registered by not later than February 19, 2016. The registration fee is $5 (USD), but the fee is being waived for the first 30 days of the registry’s operation.
Under existing FAA regulations, failure to register a drone carries potential penalties of up to $250,000 and up to three years in prison. However, the FAA says that such penalties would only be used in “egregious situations,” and that it will generally push unregistered users to comply with the registration requirements.