A widely expected set of new regulations will come into force for civilian drone users as of December 21. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been working with a set of industry stakeholders to craft a set of registration rules and piloting guidelines for users over the past few months. It is expected that the holiday shopping season could as many as one million more new small drones to US airspace by the end of the year.
Under the new rules, anyone who owns a drone will need to register starting on December 21, 2015. Registration will also apply to new users. All registrations for current owners must be completed by February 19. Registration will be free until January 20 and $5 thereafter. Registration is required for any drone weighing between 0.55 pounds and 55 pounds.
The new rules only apply to hobbyist drones for individual use. Those wishing to use drones for business or commercial purposes will have to get a special exemption from the FAA until those rules are finalized. The FAA expects to come out with rules for business and commercial users sometime around mid-2016.
There will be a significant fine associated with failing to register and getting caught – $27,500.
Registrants will need to provide their name, home address, and e-mail address. Upon completion of the registration process, the web application will generate a Certificate of Aircraft Registration/Proof of Ownership that will include a unique identification number for the UAS owner, which must be marked on the aircraft.