Drone owners now required to register on government database

  • By Suzanne Roberts

A US government registration system for Americans who own drones has gone live

New rules governing drone ownership require anyone aged 13 or over who owns one of the craft to add their details to the government registered database.

Anyone who acquires a drone after 21st of December must register with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) before it goes on its maiden flight. Existing owners have until 19th of  February to add their details online. Anyone who does not comply would face a fine.

Those who register will be given an identification number that they must display on the remote-controlled craft, similar to a car’s registration number. Registration is valid for three years.

The rules cover drones weighing between 0.228 kg and 22.7 kg.

A $5 (£3.30) registration fee is being waived for the first 30 days of the system to encourage people to register. Those who do not comply could face a fine of up to $27,500.

The FAA hs said that in “severe cases” of drone abuse it can mount a criminal prosecution which could see offenders hit with a $250,000 fine and up to three years in prison.

 The register of owners has been set up following several high-profile cases which saw drones flown in restricted airspace near airports and crowds, or that interfered with the work of emergency services.

The FAA said it wanted the register up and working before Christmas as drones are widely expected to be a popular gift.

FAA rules for flying drones stipulate that they must:

  • stay below 400ft (120m)
  • be visible to their pilot at all times
  • never be flown near manned aircraft
  • never fly over groups of people, stadiums or sporting events
  • never fly near emergency workers

In the UK it is already illegal to fly any drone over a crowded or built up area. Recently a youtube video showing the footage taken as a drone flew over a town centre sparked a police manhunt for the culprit. Another drone pilot was prosecuted in September by London’s CPS for filming a football match between Arsenal and Tottenham, the 42 year old was fined £1’800.