Information for International UAS Operators in the United States

If you are not a U.S. citizen and plan to bring your drone when you visit the United States, here are the rules you need to follow.

Remote Identification for Foreign Drones

All operators of foreign drones must follow the FAA’s Remote ID guidelines to operate in the United States. If the foreign drone has FAA remote ID broadcasting capabilities and is registered in a country outside of the United States, then you must submit a Notice of Identification (NOI) to the FAA before you fly. 

Flying Your Drone for Fun

NOTE: If your drone does not have remote ID and/or a foreign registration, visit the FAADroneZone and follow the registration process provided to fly under "The Exception for Recreational Flyers". The FAA will consider the certificate issued to be a recognition of ownership rather than a certificate of U.S. aircraft registration. This certificate allows for recreational flights only within the boundaries of an FAA-Recognized Identification Area (FRIA).

Flying Your Drone for Commercial Purposes

How to comply with regulatory requirements

Obtain Economic Authority

An operator of a foreign civil aircraft must hold a foreign aircraft permit issued by DOT and comply with applicable FAA requirements before engaging in any commercial air operations in the U.S. More information about foreign aircraft permits under Part 375 and the application process is available (See "Applications under 14 CFR Part 375").

  • If your UAS or drone is registered in your home country, submit an application to obtain a foreign aircraft permit at least 15 days in advance of the proposed start date of the operation. Note: At times, it can take approximately 30 days to obtain a foreign aircraft permit.
  • If your home country does not require UAS or drone registration, contact the DOT Foreign Air Carrier Licensing Division for further information about completing the application.
  • If you are a Canadian or Mexican National, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), formerly known as North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), authorizes certain agricultural/industrial operations commonly referred to as Specialty Air Services (SAS). DOT has granted a blanket foreign aircraft permit for the SAS operations explicitly covered by NAFTA. This permit is applicable to both manned and UAS or drone operations. Under the terms of this permit, you do not need to file applications with DOT for economic authority to conduct SAS operations for which coverage has become effective under NAFTA. Review the DOT NAFTA SAS Information Packet (PDF) to determine whether your proposed operation meets these conditions. Other types of operations not explicitly covered by NAFTA will likely require a foreign aircraft permit. Please contact the Office of the Secretary of Transportation (OST), Office of International Aviation at (202) 366-2405 for clarification. All other requirements related to commercial UAS or drone operation by foreign nationals remain applicable.

Flying Your Drone

  • If your UAS or drone weighs less than 55 pounds at takeoff including everything that is on board or attached to the aircraft:
    • Review the requirements to fly under the Small UAS Rule (Part 107), including FAA Advisory Circular 107-2.
    • Decide who will fly your UAS or drone based on the following options:
      • You will need to get a Remote Pilot Certificate (RPC) issued by FAA to fly your drone as the pilot in command (PIC). The FAA does not currently recognize any foreign RPC or equivalent. As a first-time remote pilot, you will be required to visit a Knowledge Testing Center and pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test. All Testing Centers are located in the U.S. Review the process for becoming a remote pilot and find suggested study materials.
      • If you do not have a U.S. RPC, you may operate the UAS or drone under the direct supervision of the certificated U.S. remote pilot acting as the remote PIC if the remote PIC has the ability to immediately take direct control of the flight of the UAS. Part 107.12 describes this process. Or you can have a remote pilot with a U.S. RPC fly the operation for you.
    • Determine whether your operation requires a Part 107 waiver or an authorization to operate in controlled airspace. The FAA will issue waivers to certain requirements of Part 107 if an applicant demonstrates they can fly safely under the waiver without endangering people or property on the ground or in the air. Applications must be submitted online through FAADroneZone portal.
  • If your UAS or drone weighs 55 pounds or more, you may be authorized to fly in accordance an exemption under the Special Authority for Certain Unmanned Systems (U.S.C. 44807).

Fly safely and enjoy your visit to the United States.

Last updated: Friday, April 5, 2024