Skip to page content

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Frequently Asked Questions


General

  1. What is an unmanned aircraft system (UAS)?
    An unmanned aircraft system is an unmanned aircraft and the equipment necessary for the safe and efficient operation of that aircraft. An unmanned aircraft is a component of a UAS. It is defined by statute as an aircraft that is operated without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the aircraft (Public Law 112-95, Section 331(8)).

  2. Is a UAS the same as a model aircraft?
    Congress defined a "model aircraft" as a UAS that meets all of the following:

    • Is capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere
    • Is flown within visual line-of-sight of the person operating it
    • Is flown for hobby or recreational purposes
  3. Who do I contact if my question isn't answered on the UAS website?
    We encourage you to first read all of the information on the website and browse our Frequently Asked Questions. If you still have questions or concerns, you may contact the FAA's UAS Integration Office via uashelp@faa.gov or by calling 844-FLY-MY-UA.

  4. Is the Small UAS Rule effective?
    Yes. The Small UAS Rule came into effect on August 29, 2016.

Back to top

Flying for Work or Business (non-recreational)

  1. How can non-US citizens fly UAS for commercial purposes in the United States?
    Non-U.S. citizens who want to fly for commercial purposes may do so under the Small UAS rule (Part 107) by getting a Remote Pilot Certificate (RPC) issued by the FAA. The FAA does not currently recognize any foreign Remote Pilot Certificate or equivalent because globally-recognized RPC standards have not yet been developed. To obtain an FAA-issued RPC, they must submit an application for foreign air carrier economic licensing. Application instructions are specified in 14 C.F.R. Part 375 and should be submitted by electronic mail to the Department of Transportation (DOT) Office of International Aviation, Foreign Air Carrier Licensing Division. Additional information is available at https://cms.dot.gov/policy/aviation-policy/licensing/foreign-carriers.

  2. How do I fly a UAS for work or business purposes?
    There are three ways to fly a UAS for work, business, or non-recreational reasons:

    • Following the requirements in the Small UAS rule (Part 107)
    • Following the rules in your Section 333 grant of exemption
    • Obtain an airworthiness certificate for the aircraft
  3. I am part of a Federal/State/local government office – how can I fly a UAS to support a specific mission e.g. search and rescue?
    You may either operate under the Part 107 rule, or you may be eligible to conduct public aircraft operations for which you would need to apply for a public Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) for certain operations.

  4. Can news media fly a UAS to shoot stories or cover breaking news?
    Media companies may use a UAS, but must adhere to the requirements of their Section 333 grant of exemption or the Small UAS Rule (Part 107). Organizations may request a waiver under Part 107 to fly over people, and will need to provide sufficient mitigations to ensure public safety.

  5. What options do I have if my operation is not permitted under these rules (Part 107)?
    If you are operating an unmanned aircraft that weighs less than 55 pounds, generally you may apply for a Part 107 waiver (special permission) to conduct your operation. Your waiver application must outline how you intend to safely conduct your proposed operation, including any additional risk mitigation strategies you may use. An online portal will be available through www.faa.gov/uas for UAS operators to apply for waivers to applicable parts of the rule. Get more information in the FAQ section on Permissions, Authorizations, Waivers, and Exemptions.

  6. Is package delivery allowed under the small UAS rule (Part 107)? Part 107 permits the transportation of property for compensation or hire, provided the operator complies with all the provisions of the rule, including that the operator must keep the UAS within his/her sight, the flight is conducted within visual line-of-sight and not from a moving vehicle, external loads must be securely attached and cannot adversely affect the flight characteristics or controllability of the aircraft, and the aircraft with payload must weigh less than 55 lbs. at takeoff. The transportation must also occur wholly within the bounds of a state and may not involve transportation of property between: (1) Hawaii and another place in Hawaii through airspace outside of Hawaii; (2) the District of Columbia and another place in the District of Columbia; or (3) a territory or possession of the United States and another place in the same territory or possession.

Back to top

Flying for Fun Under the Special Rule for Model Aircraft

  1. What is the definition of recreational or hobby use of a UAS?
    Recreational or hobby UAS use is flying for enjoyment and not for work, business purposes, or for compensation or hire. In the FAA's Interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft, the FAA relied on the ordinary, dictionary definition of these terms. UAS use for hobby is a "pursuit outside one's regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation." UAS use for recreation is "refreshment of strength and spirits after work; a means of refreshment or diversion."

  2. Do I need permission from the FAA to fly a UAS for recreation or as a hobby?
    There are two ways for recreational or hobby UAS fliers to operate in the National Airspace System in accordance with the law and/or FAA regulations. Each of the two options has specific requirements that the UAS operator must follow. The decision as to which option to follow is up to the individual operator.

    Option #1. Fly in accordance with the Special Rule for Model Aircraft (Public Law 112-95 Section 336). Under this rule, operators must:

    1. Register their UAS with the FAA
    2. Fly for hobby or recreational purposes only
    3. Follow a community-based set of safety guidelines
    4. Fly the UAS within visual line-of-sight
    5. Give way to manned aircraft
    6. Provide prior notification to the airport and air traffic control tower, if one is present, when flying within 5 miles of an airport
    7. Fly UAS that weigh no more than 55 lbs. unless certified by a community-based organization

    Option #2. Fly under the FAA's Small UAS Rule (14 CFR part 107). Under this rule, operators must:

    1. Register their UAS with the FAA as a "non-modeler"
    2. Obtain an FAA Remote Pilot Certificate
    3. Follow the operational requirements (PDF) of Part 107
  3. Does the new Small UAS Rule (part 107) apply to recreational UAS operations?
    Part 107 does not apply to UAS flown strictly for fun (hobby or recreational purposes) as long as these unmanned aircraft are flown in accordance with the Special Rule for Model Aircraft (Section 336 of P.L. 112-95). Visit our "Fly for Fun" webpage for safety rules and guidelines that apply to recreational UAS operations. The small UAS rule codifies the provisions of section 336 in part 101 of the FAA's regulations, which will prohibit operating a UAS in manner that endangers the safety of the National Airspace System.

  4. How do I know where it is OK to fly and where it is not OK to fly?
    The FAA has developed a mobile app called B4UFLY to help recreational UAS operators know whether there are any restrictions or requirements where they want to fly. Additional guidance is also available in the "Where to Fly" section of this website.

  5. Can I fly a model aircraft or UAS over a stadium or sporting events for hobby or recreation?
    No. Federal law restricts UAS from flying at or below 3,000 AGL within a 3 nautical mile radius of any stadium with a seating capacity of 30,000 or more people during a Major League Baseball (MLB), regular or post-season National Football League (NFL), or NCAA Division I football game, or major motor speedway event. This temporary flight restriction applies to the entire U.S. domestic National Airspace System, and takes effect starting one hour before the scheduled event time until one hour after the event concludes. The FAA gives further detail in a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM.)

  6. Do I have to notify all airports within five miles of where I want to fly recreationally?
    Yes, you must contact any airports (including heliports and sea-based airports) and air traffic control towers within five miles of your proposed area of operations if flying under the Special Rule for Model Aircraft (Public Law 112-95, Section 336).

  7. Can an airport operator object to model aircraft flights near an airport?
    Yes, an airport operator can object to the proposed use of a model aircraft within five miles of an airport if the proposed activity would endanger the safety of the airspace. However, the airport operator cannot prohibit or prevent the model aircraft operator from operating within five miles of the airport. Unsafe flying in spite of the objection of an airport operator may be evidence that the operator was endangering the safety of the National Airspace System. Additionally, the UAS operator must comply with any applicable airspace requirements.

Back to top

Aeronautical Knowledge Testing/Remote Pilot Certification

  1. I already have a pilot certificate issued under part 61. Do I need to obtain a remote pilot certificate to fly a UAS under the Small UAS Rule (Part 107)?
    Yes. To act as a remote pilot in command under Part 107, a person must have a remote pilot certificate. However, part 61 pilot certificate holders who have completed a flight review within the past 24 months may elect to take an online training course focusing on UAS-specific areas of knowledge instead of the aeronautical knowledge test. The online training for current pilot certificate holders is available at www.faasafety.gov. All other members of the public must take and pass the initial aeronautical knowledge test to obtain a remote pilot certificate.

  2. How can I find the closest FAA-approved Knowledge Testing Center to me?
    A list of Knowledge Testing Centers (PDF) is available. You may also contact the Knowledge Test Service Providers directly to schedule your test:

    • CATS: Call 800-947-4228
    • PSI: Call 800-211-2754
  3. Where can I find study materials for the aeronautical knowledge test?
    Study materials are available online. Applicants are encouraged to review the Airman Certification Standards (ACS) for Unmanned Aircraft Systems, the Remote Pilot Study Guide (PDF), and the online sample questions before taking the Knowledge Test.

  4. How much does it cost to get a remote pilot certificate?
    Knowledge Testing Centers charge approximately $150 to people seeking to take the initial aeronautical knowledge test.

  5. Will the FAA recognize any previous UAS training I've taken?
    No. However, prior military or civil aviation-related training may be helpful to new applicants preparing for the aeronautical knowledge test. There is no required practical training to fly under the Part 107 rule or to get a remote pilot certificate.

  6. Once I complete the aeronautical knowledge test at one of the approved centers, what is the process for obtaining my pilot certificate from the FAA?
    After you have passed the initial aeronautical knowledge test, you will then complete the FAA Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application (known as IACRA) to receive a remote pilot certificate. IACRA is a web-based certification/rating application that ensures you meet the requirements and electronically submits the application to the FAA's Airman Registry. Applications should be validated within 10 days. Applicants will then receive instructions for printing their temporary airman certificate, which is good for 120 days. The FAA will then mail you your permanent Remote Pilot Certificate within that 120 days.

  7. What happens if I fail the aeronautical knowledge test? How soon can I retake the test?
    You may retake the test after 14 days.

  8. What do I need to bring with me to take the aeronautical knowledge test?
    All applicants must bring a valid and current form of identification that includes their photo, date of birth, signature, and physical residential address. Acceptable forms of identification include:

    What to bring in order to take the knowledge test
    U.S. Citizen and Resident Aliens Non-U.S. Citizens
    • Driver permit or license issued by a U.S. state or territory
    • U.S. Government identification card
    • U.S. Military identification card
    • Passport
    • Alien residency card
    • Passport
      AND
    • Driver permit or license issued by a U.S. state or territory
      OR
    • Identification card issued by any government entity

    More information is available in the FAA Airman Knowledge Testing
    Matrix
    (PDF).

Back to top

Airspace/Airports

  1. How can I tell what class of airspace I'm in?
    Under the Small UAS Rule (part 107) (PDF), operators must pass an aeronautical knowledge test to obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate. This test will quiz prospective operators on how to use aeronautical charts to determine airspace classifications.

    For reference, aeronautical charts and a Chart User's Guide are also available on the FAA's website. These charts are the FAA's official source of airspace classifications.

    Additionally, the FAA's B4UFLY app, which is designed to help recreational UAS flyers know where it's safe to fly, shows users if they are in controlled airspace (Class B, C, D, or E airspaces) in a given or planned location. If the app's status indicator is yellow ("Use Caution – Check Restrictions"), a user is in uncontrolled (Class G) airspace.

  2. How do I request permission from Air Traffic Control to operate in Class B, C, D, or E airspace? Is there a way to request permission electronically?
    You can request airspace authorization through an online web portal available at www.faa.gov/uas/request_waiver.

  3. Can I contact my local air traffic control tower or facility directly to request airspace permission?
    No. All airspace permission requests must be made through the online portal.

Back to top

Permissions, Authorizations, Waivers, and Exemptions

  1. Do I need a Section 333 exemption, or any other kind of special permission, to fly now that the Small UAS Rule is effective?
    If you are operating a small UAS under the Small UAS Rule, once you have obtained your remote pilot certificate, and registered your aircraft, you can fly in Class G airspace as long as you follow all the operating requirements in the Rule (Part 107).

  2. What happens to my Section 333 exemption now that the Small UAS Rule is effective?
    Your Section 333 exemption remains valid until it expires. You may continue to fly following the conditions and limitations in your exemption. If your operation can be conducted under the requirements in the Part 107, you may elect to operate under Part 107. However, if you wish to operate under part 107, you must obtain a remote pilot certificate and follow all the operating rules of Part 107.

  3. Can my blanket Section 333 Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) transfer to my UAS operation under part 107?
    No. If you fly following the requirements of Part 107, you must comply with the operating provisions specified in part 107. Part 107 limits your altitude to 400 feet unless your unmanned aircraft is flying within 400 feet of a structure (in which case you may not fly higher than 400 feet above the top of that structure). Part 107 also limits your operation to Class G airspace unless you obtain FAA permission prior to the operation to fly in controlled airspace. The blanket COA issued with your Section 333 exemption is only valid if you continue flying using the conditions and limitations in your exemption.

  4. Am I better off flying under the Part 107 rule or my Section 333 exemption?
    It depends on what you want to do. UAS operators need to compare the conditions and limitations in their individual Section 333 exemption to the operating requirements in the Part 107 rule to determine which operating rules best address their needs.

  5. Can I use the new airmen certification to fulfill the pilot-in-command requirement of my Section 333 exemption?
    No. You cannot "mix and match" the conditions and limitations in your Section 333 exemption with the Part 107 rule operating requirements. Section 333 exemption holders have two choices:

    1. Continue to fly using their Section 333 exemption, following the conditions and limitations in the exemption
      OR
    2. Get a remote pilot certificate and start flying under the Part 107 rule, following all operating rules and requirements.
  6. Is the new Small UAS Rule retroactively applied to 333 exemption holders?
    No. Current Section 333 exemption holders have two choices:

    1. Continue to fly using their Section 333 exemption, following the conditions and limitations in the exemption
      OR
    2. Get a remote pilot certificate and start flying under the Part 107 rule, following all operating rules and requirements of Part 107.
  7. I already applied for a Section 333 exemption or have a pending request for amendment. What do I do?
    The FAA has posted a letter to your docket folder on www.regulations.gov. If your operation can be conducted under the Small UAS Rule (Part 107), your petition will be closed out. If your operation requires a waiver to Part 107 or cannot be conducted under the Rule, the FAA will contact you with specific information about the status of your Section 333 petition.

  8. Will the FAA be issuing renewals for current Section 333 exemptions?
    For the most part, no. If your operation can be flown under the Part 107 rule, the FAA will not renew your exemption once it expires. If you cannot operate under the requirements of the Small UAS Rule, you will need to renew your Section 333 petition once it expires.

  9. How do I apply for a waiver to the requirements of the Part 107 rule?
    Waivers are special permissions the FAA issues to authorize certain types of UAS operations not covered under the Part 107 rule. Learn more about applying for waivers to part 107.

  10. Once I submit my waiver request, how long before the FAA makes a decision? And how will I be notified?
    Waiver processing times will vary depending on the complexity of the request. We encourage applicants to submit waiver requests well in advance of when they need a waiver – 90 days is strongly encouraged. Applicants will be notified via email about the outcome of their waiver processing.

  11. Will I still need a COA to fly under the Part 107 rule?
    If you already have a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA), you can continue to fly under those COA requirements until it expires. Section 333 exemption holders may operate under the terms of their exemptions and COAs until they expire. Public aircraft operators such as law enforcement agencies, state or local governments, or public universities may continue to operate under the terms of their COAs.

    If you don't already have a Section 333 exemption and associated COA, and you are not conducting a public aircraft operation, you probably don't need one now that Part 107 is out. Civil UAS operations flown under the new rules do not require the UAS operator to get a COA.

    Please contact the FAA's Air Traffic Organization for more information.

Back to top

Registration

  1. Why do I need to register my UAS?
    Federal law requires that small unmanned aircraft weighing more than .55 pounds and less than 55, be registered with the FAA and marked with a registration number, either by registering online or by using the legacy paper based registration process.

  2. What is the difference between registering a UAS flown for under the Special Rule for Model Aircraft vs. UAS not flown as model aircraft?
    If you operate your UAS exclusively under the Special Rule for Model Aircraft, you must use the web-based registration process to register once and apply your registration number to as many UAS as you want.

    Unmanned aircraft flown not as model aircraft must be registered individually by the owner, and each registration costs $5. Registrants must supply their name, address, and email address, in addition to the make, model, and serial number (if available) for each UAS they want to fly.

  3. Do I always have to have my Certificate of Aircraft Registration with me while flying my UAS?
    Yes. You must have the FAA registration certificate in your possession when operating an unmanned aircraft. The certificate can be available either on paper or electronically.

    If another person operates your UAS, they must have the UAS registration certificate in their possession. You can give them a paper copy or email a copy to them.

    Federal law requires UAS operators who are required to register (those not flying exclusively under the Special Rule for Model Aircraft) to show the certificate of registration to any Federal, State, or local law enforcement officer if asked. You can show it electronically or show the printed certificate.

  4. If I'm just flying my UAS inside a building, do I have to register it?
    If you're flying indoors, you do not need to register your unmanned aircraft as the FAA does not regulate indoor UAS use.

  5. If I'm flying my UAS in my own yard, do I have to register it?
    You will need to register your UAS if the UAS weighs more than 0.55 pounds.

  6. If my UAS weighs more than 55 lbs., what are the registration requirements?
    It must be registered using the FAA's paper-based registration process.

  7. I'm a foreign national and want to fly my UAS in the U.S. on vacation. Do I have to register before flying?
    If you are a foreign national and you are not eligible to register your sUAS in the United States there are two ways for you to operate. If you want to operate your UAS exclusively in accordance with the Special Rule for Model Aircraft, you may complete the process provided in the web-based registration portal for section 336 aircraft. The agency will consider the certificate that is issued to be a recognition of ownership rather than a certificate of U.S. aircraft registration. These conditions are consistent with and impose no greater burden than the requirements imposed on U.S. citizens conducting model aircraft operations in the U.S.

    Alternatively, if you want to operate your UAS for commercial purposes, you must register your UAS in the country in which you are eligible to register and obtain operating authority from the Department of Transportation.

    For more information and guidance regarding authorities for non-U.S. citizens, please contact the Department's Foreign Air Carrier Licensing Division.

  8. If my registered UAS is destroyed or is sold, lost, or transferred, do I need to do anything?
    You should cancel your registration through the FAA's online registration system.

  9. How do I mark my unmanned aircraft with my unique registration number?
    If you complete registration using the web-based registration process and satisfy the registration requirements, you may use a permanent marker, label, or engraving, as long as the number remains affixed to the aircraft during routine handling and all operating conditions and is readily accessible and legible upon close visual inspection. Refer to this pdf (PDF) for additional details.

    Requirements for marking unmanned aircraft registered in accordance with the legacy registration system can be found in 14 CFR Part 45, subpart C. Guidance material on aircraft marking requirements in Part 45 can be found in Advisory Circular No. 45-2E Identification and Registration Marking.

  10. When I provide my registration information, is it publicly available?
    The web-based UAS registration database is not searchable at this time. The FAA and the FAA contractor who maintain the website and database will be able to see the data that you enter. Like the FAA, the contractor is required to comply with strict legal requirements to protect the confidentiality of the personal data you provide. Under certain circumstances, law enforcement officers might also be able to see the data.

    As described in the applicable Privacy Act System of Records Notice for aircraft registration information, the public may search for aircraft information in the legacy, paper-based aircraft registration system by the aircraft registration number, aircraft owner name, and aircraft owner state/county or territory/county.

  11. I don't have access to a computer to register. Is there a form?
    There are two registration systems available to small UAS owners – the web-based system, designed exclusively for small unmanned aircraft, and the legacy paper-based registration system. If you don't have access to a computer to register, you may use the paper registration process.

  12. Can I transfer my model registration to non-model registration?
    At this time, the web-based registration system does not permit this type of transfer. You must complete registration as a non-modeler and provide specific aircraft information such as manufacturer name, model number and serial number, if applicable.

  13. Is there a penalty for failing to register?
    Failure to register an unmanned aircraft that is required to be registered may result in regulatory and criminal penalties. 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 years.

    There is no one-size-fits-all enforcement action for violations. All aspects of a violation will be considered, along with mitigating and aggravating circumstances surrounding the violation. In general, the FAA will attempt to educate operators who fail to comply with registration requirements. However, fines will remain an option when egregious circumstances are present.

  14. Who do I contact with registration questions or problems?
    You may email registration questions to UASregistration@faa.gov. Live phone support is also available at (877) 396-4636 or international (703) 574-6777 from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. ET Monday through Friday.

  15. If I registered my model aircraft prior to the Taylor v. Huerta decision (May 19, 2017), do I need to re-register it in light of the restoration of the requirement to register model aircraft operated under section 336 in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2018 (Dec. 12, 2017)?
    If you did not complete the registration-deletion/expungement process offered by the FAA in the intervening period, you do not need to re-register your aircraft. You remain registered. If you completed the registration-deletion/expungement process, you must re-register before operating your aircraft outdoors.

  16. If I received acknowledgment that my registration-deletion/expungement was processed but I also requested a refund that I have not yet received, what should I do?
    You are required to re-register and submit payment. If you do not receive the requested refund within 30 days, please contact the Civil Aviation Registry at (866) 762-9434 for assistance.

  17. If I received acknowledgment that my registration-deletion/expungement was processed but I did not request a refund, what should I do to re-register?
    To re-register, complete the entire registration process, including making payment. The new registration fee will be automatically refunded within 30 days. If you have not received your refund within 30 days, please contact the Civil Aviation Registry at (866) 762-9434 for assistance.

  18. If I am a model aircraft owner who registered prior to December 12, 2017, on what date do I have to renew my registration?
    As of December 12, 2017, the National Defense Authorization Act for 2018 restored the FAA's registration rule with respect to model aircraft. If you are a model aircraft owner who registered prior to December 12, 2017 and did not request to have your registration information deleted, the FAA has extended the expiration date until December 12, 2020, which is 3 years from the rule restoration date.

Back to top

Accident and Incident Reporting

  1. How do I submit an accident report under the Small UAS Rule (Part 107) to the FAA?
    An online portal is available through www.faa.gov/uas for the remote pilot to report accidents in accordance with reporting requirements in the Part 107 rule. Accident reports may also be made by contacting your nearest FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO).

  2. When do I need to report an accident?
    The remote pilot in command of the small UAS is required to report an accident to the FAA within 10 days if it results in at least serious injury to any person or any loss of consciousness, or if it causes damage to any property (other than the UAS) in excess of $500 to repair or replace the property (whichever is lower).

  3. If someone's UAS crashes in my yard, hurts someone, or damages my property, what do I do?
    Call local law enforcement. Law enforcement personnel will contact the FAA if the crash investigation requires FAA participation.

  4. What should I do if I see someone flying a drone in a reckless or irresponsible manner?
    Flying a drone in a reckless manner is a violation of Federal law and FAA regulations and could result in civil fines or criminal action. If you see something that could endanger other aircraft or people on the ground, call local law enforcement.

Back to top

Page last modified:

This page was originally published at: https://www.faa.gov/uas/faqs/