What Drones Have To Be Registered?

David Lemay01 Jul 2022

Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), more popularly known as drones, have become increasingly common in recent years. The sky has become littered with them, and it seems as though anyone can easily own and fly one. Drones are primarily used to capture fascinating and extraordinary videos, shoot spectacular photographs, and, when combined with VR goggles, experience exhilarating thrills whilst racing.

If you're one of the countless new drone owners eager to fly your drone, the first step you'll want to do after unpacking your brand new "toy" is to register it. Needless to say, unmanned aircraft aficionados are aviators and that designation comes with a huge responsibility. Registration allows the government to collaborate with drone users to ensure that their unmanned aircraft are operated safely.

The FAA wants the public to stop thinking of drones as toys, which may seem counterintuitive given the fact that they must be registered as aircraft with the federal government. They're aircraft that carry a degree of danger and accountability. Unregistered drone operators face fines ranging from $27,500 for civil proceedings to $250,000 for criminal actions, with the prospect of three years in prison.

Do All Drones Need To Be Registered?

All commercial drone users need to register their drones. This regulation does not apply if you are flying a drone only for recreational purposes. In addition, irrespective of its purpose, each drone must be registered and have its registration number.

For drones that weigh over 250 grams, the FAA instituted new rules in 2015. To take flight in any airspace, drones must be registered with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).  The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has two basic drone categories: commercial and recreational. Drone pilots must choose between Part 107 (for commercial drones) and the "Exception for Recreational Flyers" when registering.

The FAA distinguishes drones into two categories based on their intended use, and not by the model or size of the drone. In the case of the recreational category, there is no profit to be made. It's used only for personal entertainment or leisure. non-recreational drones, on the other hand, are used for commercial purposes. Drones are categorized under commercial if they are used to shoot images to promote a product or service. Moreover, it is still deemed commercial even if you intend to donate your drone flying services to a non-profit.

Only small recreational drones weighing less than 0.55 pounds and used for personal enjoyment only are exempt from registration requirements. Every three years, both commercial drones and specific recreational drones must be registered.

What Drones Do Not Have To Be Registered?

Although the FAA typically licenses and registers most powerful drones, it all depends on their weight and the application. Using your drone for recreational purposes and weighing less than 250 grams might mean you don't have to register it.

With drones becoming increasingly common, there is an increasing interest in improving their technical capabilities and functions. Therefore, the federal government needed to categorize these devices as unmanned aerial systems (UASs) and pass laws to regulate them. A UAS could also be a quadrocopter or remote-controlled plane. If it flies and you are not on top of it or hanging from it, it falls into this category.

In addition to limiting and controlling how and when these machines are used, these laws also serve to protect the safety of others from lack of piloting skills, equipment or weather, among other issues. Further, these laws also attempt to protect general privacy. Pilots, professionals as well as amateurs of UASs, would be required to follow the restrictions set by the FAA to ensure they are implemented.

Recreational drones weighing less than 250 grams (0.55 pounds) are exempt from FAA registration requirements. Thus,  it is not mandated to register the vast majority of mini and micro drones. A drone user who doesn't want to deal with the registration process should select one of these small drones.

The DJI Mavic Mini

You can fly the DJI Mavic Mini in the US, as well as in many other regions, without registering the device with the government because it weighs just 249 grams. This mini drone is small, lightweight, and portable. A great drone to take along while trekking or backpacking. At takeoff, it weighs just 249 grams. The only disadvantage is that it cannot shoot in 4K.


This drone features brushless motors that provide powerful thrust, a camera that can be swivelled, and a GPS that provides an accurate location. The X7 is not a very complicated drone, however, its construction is very good. It comes with some basic flight modes like a return to home, follow me, and circle around, but does not have waypoints.

Holy Stone HS110D Drone

This is an affordable and simple-to-fly drone with a camera. The HS110D drone is a great drone that can move and fly quickly. If you're just starting and want to get your feet wet, this is a terrific option. It has a nice, snappy controller and a passable camera. While the video quality is low and unsteady due to the drone's bounce and tilt, it isn't terrible if you're not expecting too much from it.

Ryze Tech Tello Drone

To make the greatest features of the more expensive category more accessible to a wider range of people, the Tello strikes a balance between being an entry-level toy drone and a compact photography drone while still retaining its individuality.  Although the Tello is only 10cm wide without propellers or guards attached, the construction is excellent. Overall, it’s a good toy for kids of all ages and a fun way to capture videos that you wouldn't ordinarily have the opportunity to take.

The FAA drone registration may seem excessive to some, but from the perspective of the FAA, this is a necessary step. Even though they may be considered toys by some, a whole new sector has emerged in the last several years, and these "toys" now occupy the national airspace. When it comes to safe manned flight, no other remote control "toy" has ever come close to drones' current level of safety and manoeuvrability. Since drones are essentially aircraft, the FAA is urging the public to think of them as such.

David Lemay

David Lemay

I'm David Lemay, a lover of tech and have had an interest in drones for years. Bought my first few drones, before I started building my own. I want to share my passion with others, so I started this site to help others who want to get into the hobby.

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