This Is What Happens If You Fail To Register Your Drone In The US

Judge Gravel

Registering your drone is a law that was put in place on December 21, 2015, by the FAA. So what happens if you fail to register your drone?

All drones/ unmanned aircraft that weigh over 0.55 pounds are required by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) to be registered. If this requirement is not met, you can face up to $27,500 in civil charges. Criminal penalties may include up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment for up to 3 years.

As the FAA themselves puts it:

The FAA may assess civil penalties up to $27,500. Criminal penalties include fines of up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment for up to three (3) years.

Register Your Drone (

Now let’s get into the reasons why and how you receive these penalties.

Disclaimer: These laws may vary depending on the state you live in. Make sure you check the laws in your state before using your drone for any purpose.

You Can Face Civil Penalties Of Up To $27,500

Civil penalties are when a government agency feels they need compensation when something wrong has been done to them. This fine is not considered to be a criminal penalty and therefore will not result in imprisonment or other such criminal punishments.

The 2016 act allowed the FAA to immediately charge an individual with civil penalties of up to $20,000 for UAV operators that intentionally interfere with emergency response services.

This does not however let offenders off the hook as they are still immediately considered for enforcement actions.

This is the case as these emergency response operations are very time-sensitive and every second lost could result in the loss of a victim that requires saving.


For those who are operating drones for commercial purposes, this could result in the suspension or revocation of their pilot certificate for a fixed number of days or indefinitely.

Here is a PDF explaining this law

You Can Get Fined Up To $250,000 And/Or Face Up To 3 Years Imprisonment

Criminal penalties are appropriate for individuals who for example are caught doing things that have a terrorist nature.

Those caught committing serious violations such as injury to a person, property damage, or operating a drone near an airport are qualified to be charged with a criminal penalty.

A great example of the misuse of drones is when UAVs were illegally flying over London Gatwick Airport back in 2018, forcing the airport to halt all planes from taking off and landing.

Here is a quick video of the events that gives great information of the possible dangers a UAV poses to a commercial airliner:

The FAA does not have the authority to take action against the drone that is being misused and therefore must seek help from other agencies.

For rogue drones that do not pose a serious threat, the Department of Transportation Inspector General (DOTIG) usually handles things. The FAA contacts them when necessary as they have criminal investigative authority.

 In some cases, rogue drone operators are subject to enforcement actions just like any other criminal.  Drone operators using their drones to stalk or harass other people are subject to the same laws concerning stalking or harassment in any other way.

Rogue Drones: What Does the FAA Do to Enforce Drone Laws? New Report from GAO Offers Insight – DRONELIFE

Which Drones Need To Be Registered And Why Do You Need To Register Them?

As we’ve already mentioned, drones over 0.55 pounds (250 grams/0.25kg) are required to be registered with the FAA. This law applies to both recreational and commercial drone pilots.

If you are flying under the Exception for Recreational Flyers and your drone weighs less than the maximum weight, then you don’t need to register it with the FAA.

The FAA requires you to register your drone if you reach certain specifications so that they can have better control over airspace and make sure that you are not operating your UAV in a reckless manner that may harm you or other individuals.

Any drone that is used for criminal purposes can therefore be tracked down and the operator can be brought to justice.

How Do I Register My Drone?

The FAA has made it very easy to register your drone. You can do this either online on their site at FAA DroneZone, or by mail which takes much longer.

This is where you will have to choose whether you want to register your UAV under Part 107 or Exception for Recreational Flyers.

If you are using your drone to make money, then you will need to register it under Part 107. Take note that all drones no matter their weight need to be registered if they are being used for commercial purposes (To make money).


You should also take note that you will not be able to switch between them without an additional $5 fee.

You will need to be over the age of 13, you’ll need to be a US citizen or legal permanent resident.

You will need a:

  • Valid Email address
  • Physical address and mailing address (if different from physical address)
  • Make and model of the drone (if flying under part 107)
  • Credit or debit card

Both the Part 107 and Exception for Recreational Flyers registration will cost you $5 and will both be valid for 3 years.

Take note that the registration number that you receive will be valid for a single drone when under the Part 107 registration but it can be used for all drones you own when under the Exemption for Recreational Flyers.

Upon completing registration, a certificate will be provided which you will need to carry on you whenever you want to use your drone. You will also need to mark your drone with your given registration number.


In conclusion, if you follow these rules you should not run into any problems. These rules were put in place to stop the misuse of drones.

If you feel you need to register your drone, just know that it is a very simple process that takes minutes to do if you use the online method.

Once again, we urge you to check up on the laws of your state regarding drone use so that you can help keep the skies safe and fun for everyone!

Do you agree with these laws?

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