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.
Visiting the U.S. and Flying Your Drone for Fun
If you are not a U.S. citizen and you intend to fly your drone in the United States for hobby or recreation only, here's what you need to know:
- Determine if you are eligible to fly under the under the Special Rule for Model Aircraft by reviewing the requirements to fly, including FAA Advisory Circular 91-57A.
- Visit the FAA's DroneZone portal and complete the process provided to "Fly Model Aircraft under Section 336" flying your aircraft in the U.S. The FAA will consider the certificate issued to be a recognition of ownership rather than a certificate of U.S. aircraft registration.
Visiting the U.S. and Flying Your Drone for Commercial Purposes
If you are not a U.S. citizen and want to fly your drone for commercial purposes in the United States, here's what you need to know:
- Economic authority from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for the navigation of foreign civil aircraft in the United States (14 CFR Part 375). Part 375 is to both manned aircraft and drones.
- You are required to comply with all applicable rules and operating requirements.
Here is what you need to do 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 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 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 the 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 the FAA's DroneZone 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.