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Future Tech: 

Own a drone? You now have to register before you can fly


Drones are expected to be a popular present this holiday season, but anyone who unwraps a quadcopter this christmas will now need to register before taking it to the skies.

According to new regulation from the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), any drone in the United States that weighs more than 55 pounds will need to be registered by 21 December. Here’s everything you need to know about the new rules.

Six things to know about drone registration:

1. Why do I need to register?

Up until now it’s been more or less a Wild West for drones, but as ownership has increased dramatically so have the reports of unsafe incidents. The FAA has said it expects hundreds of thousands of new UAVs to be purchased during the holidays, so it argues the time has come for some control.

“Make no mistake: unmanned aircraft enthusiast are aviators, and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility,” said United States Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Registration gives us an opportunity to work with these users to operate their unmanned aircraft safely. I’m excited to welcome these new aviators into the culture of safety and responsibility that defines American innovation.”

2. How do I register?

The new regulations come in to effect on 21 December, which is also the date when registration opens via the FAA’s website. Anyone registering a drone will need to provide their name, email and home address, and the $5 registration fee will be waived if you do it within the first 30 days.

Once registered, you’ll receive a certificate and a proof of ownership with a unique ID that should be marked on the drone itself. Cerificates can be printed, but they’re also available digitally via a web app.

3. I have multiple drones. Do I need to register them all?

No. You only have to register as a drone operator once, and you can use the same identification number for all your drones. Registration only lasts three years through, so you will need to renew once it expires.


4. Do I have to register my child’s toy?

If it weighs more than 55 pounds, then yes. The FAA notes, however, that most “toys” priced under $100 have been determined to weigh less. Amusingly, the website also clarifies that paper airplanes, balloons and frisbees do not need to be registered.

5. What happens with my details?

From a privacy perspective, the FAA promises not to share your details with a third-party. However, the FAA will be able to see your details as well as a contractor it uses to maintain its website and databases. It’s website also notes that law enforcement services may be able to access information “under certain circumstances”.

6. What happens if I don’t register?

Drones purchased and used before the December 21 start date still need to be registered no later than February 19, 2016. The consequences for non-compliance are severe, with civil penalties of up to $27,500. Criminal penalties, meanwhile., include fines of up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment for up to three years.

So, if you’ve asked for a drone this Christmas, or you’ve bought one for somebody else, make sure the new rules aren’t ignored.

Image: Stock image /

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