Drone Laws in Florida

Agencies Responsible for regulating drones in the State of Florida

Federal Aviation Administration

FAA Drone Website: https://www.faa.gov/uas/

Florida State Laws Related to Drones


UAS Laws – General rules for flying drones in Florida

Drone operation in the State of Florida is broadly governed by The Federal USA agency responsible for drone safety, the FAA. Click here for details on FAA USA Drone Laws.

In addition, the Florida legislature has enacted several supplemental rules specific to Florida drone operations. The highlights are enumerated below. For more details go to the links above and search for unmanned aircraft

Are drones allowed in Florida?

Drones are allowed in Florida for recreational and commercial use, subject to FAA regulations and flight controls put in place by local governments. Read on for details.

Specific additional drone laws by Florida State legislature

Definitions:

Florida Statutes defines a drone as a “powered, aerial vehicle that:

  1. Does not carry a human operator;
  2. Uses aerodynamic forces to provide vehicle lift;
  3. Can fly autonomously or be piloted remotely;
  4. Can be expendable or recoverable; and
  5. Can carry a lethal or nonlethal payload.”

“​Unmanned aircraft system​” means a drone and its associated elements, including communication links and the components used to control the drone which is required for the pilot in command to operate the drone safely and efficiently.

“​Critical infrastructure facility​” means any of the following, if completely enclosed by a fence or other physical barrier that is obviously designed to exclude intruders, or if clearly marked with a sign or signs which indicate that entry is forbidden and which are posted on the property in a manner reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders:

  1. An electrical power generation or transmission facility, substation, switching station, or electrical control center.
  2. A chemical or rubber manufacturing or storage facility.
  3. A mining facility.
  4. A natural gas or compressed gas compressor station, storage facility, or natural gas orcompressed gas pipeline.
  5. A liquid natural gas or propane gas terminal or storage facility with a capacity of 4,000gallons or more.
  6. Any portion of an aboveground oil or gas pipeline.
  7. A wireless communications facility, including the tower, antenna, support structures, andall associated ground- based equipment.

330.4​ ​Unmanned Aircraft Systems Act

PROTECTION OF CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE FACILITIES.— (a) A person may not knowingly or willfully:

  1. Operate a drone over a critical infrastructure facility;
  2. Allow a drone to make contact with a critical infrastructure facility, including any personor object on the premises of or within the facility; or
  3. Allow a drone to come within a distance of a critical infrastructure facility that is closeenough to interfere with the operations of or cause a disturbance to the facility.

934.50​ ​-​ ​Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act PROHIBITED USE OF DRONES

  1. A law enforcement agency may not use a drone to gather evidence or other information.
  2. A person, a state agency, or a political subdivision as defined in s. ​11.45​ may not use adrone equipped with an imaging device to record an image of privately owned real property or of the owner, tenant, occupant, invitee, or licensee of such property with the intent to conduct surveillance on the individual or property captured in the image in violation of such person’s reasonable expectation of privacy without his or her written consent. For purposes of this section, a person is presumed to have a reasonable expectation of privacy on his or her privately owned real property if he or she is not observable by persons located at ground level in a place where they have a legal right to be, regardless of whether he or she is observable from the air with the use of a drone.

EXCEPTIONS.—This section does not prohibit the use of a drone:

  1. To counter a high risk of a terrorist attack by a specific individual or organization if theUnited States Secretary of Homeland Security determines that credible intelligenceindicates that there is such a risk.
  2. If the law enforcement agency first obtains a search warrant signed by a judgeauthorizing the use of a drone.
  3. If the law enforcement agency possesses reasonable suspicion that, under particularcircumstances, swift action is needed to prevent imminent danger to life or serious damage to property, to forestall the imminent escape of a suspect or the destruction of evidence, or to achieve purposes including, but not limited to, facilitating the search for a missing person.
  4. By a person or an entity engaged in a business or profession licensed by the state, or by an agent, employee, or contractor thereof, if the drone is used only to perform reasonable tasks within the scope of practice or activities permitted under such person’s or entity’s license. However, this exception does not apply to a profession in which the licensee’s authorized scope of practice includes obtaining information about the identity, habits, conduct, movements, whereabouts, affiliations, associations, transactions, reputation, or character of any society, person, or group of persons
  5. By an employee or a contractor of a property appraiser who uses a drone solely for the purpose of assessing property for ad valorem taxation.
  6. To capture images by or for an electric, water, or natural gas utility:
  7. For aerial mapping, if the person or entity using a drone for this purpose is operating incompliance with Federal Aviation Administration regulations.
  8. To deliver cargo, if the person or entity using a drone for this purpose is operating incompliance with Federal Aviation Administration regulations.
  9. To capture images necessary for the safe operation or navigation of a drone that isbeing used for a purpose allowed under federal or Florida law.
  10. By a communications service provider or a contractor for a communications serviceprovider for routing, siting, installation, maintenance, or inspection of facilities used to provide communications services.

Specific additional UAS drone laws by local governments within Florida State

Town of Bonita Springs | Municipal Law (2016)

Drone operations under this city ordinance are only allowed at Community Park when the park’s fields are unoccupied. Moreover, pilots must not fly drones within 25ft of people, places, or things, namely buildings, powerlines, and lighting fixtures.

Canaveral Port Authority | Unmanned Aerial Systems Policy

Drone pilots are prohibited from all UAV operations under this policy unless they have prior authorization. Users must request authorization 48 hours in advance of the intended drone use to CPA Public Safety & Security. Applications are via the official online form (link above).

Town of DeFuniak Springs | Municipal Law (2016)

Drones are prohibited from flying over private or public property under this city ordinance without the property owner’s consent. The ordinance also states that all commercial pilots must register with the town’s police department before carrying out commercial drone operations.

Lake County | Code of Ordinances (2001)

The purpose of this county ordinance is to prohibit all drones from take-offs and landings on county-owned non-recreational or non-designated spaces and other restricted areas. The director or designee may grant prior permission on a case-by-case basis.

The city of Miami | Municipal Law (2016)

This 2016 city ordinance bans the use of drones from within a half-mile radius of stadiums, sporting facilities, and other large venues or events. Examples include Bayfront Park, Calle Ocho Festival, Marlins Ballpark, Miami Marine Stadium, and other parks or facilities that host special occasions. This ordinance also states that a city permit is required for particular drone activities.

City of Orlando | Municipal Law Sec. 37-12. (2016)

This law states that no drone shall fly within 500ft of city-owned buildings and other structures. That includes schools, parks, and venues. The 500ft flight restriction also applies to gatherings that exceed greater than or equal to 1000 persons. Some exceptions are available for permit holders, which currently cost $20 per flight. Annual permits are also obtainable for $150.

UAV Operators in violation of this city ordinance face fines between $200–$400.

Pinellas County | Code of Ordinances (2018)

This county ordinance bans all drone operations from county-owned or county-managed lands. That includes take-offs and landings unless it’s to protect public safety. Exceptions may be available with prior written permission from the local administrator or designee.

The University of Tampa | UAV & Drone Policy (2015)

This policy aims to maintain a safe, nonthreatening campus environment. Thus, it restricts all drone operations over or within university-owned property and grounds without official authorization. The policy applies to pilots of commercial and recreational unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

UAS operation rules in Parks, Recreation and Cultural Preserves

Florida Administrative Code 5I-4.003 // 2016

This state code prohibits drones on managed lands, including Florida state parks and forests, except at a runway or a helispot and only with authorization from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The authorization shall be based upon a determination that the takeoff or landing will not endanger the health, safety, or welfare of any person; potentially damage the forest resources, or interfere with management objectives of that forest as provided in that forest’s management plan. Authorization from the Service is not required in an emergency or for Service official business.

Florida Administrative Code 40C-9.320 // 2004

This state code prohibits drones from taking off or landing on District lands unless authorized by a Special Use Authorization.

Specific additional laws in Jurisdictions within Florida

Many cities or towns within the state of Florida may have specific restrictions within their jurisdictions. We recommend checking the local jurisdiction for the latest regulations.


Notes for recreational drone pilots flying for fun in Florida

If you have a small drone that is less than 55 pounds, you can fly recreationally by following the Drone Laws in the USA defined by FAA Part 107 guidelines.

Recreational UAS operations (i.e., flying for recreational purposes) in Florida are approved under FAA law, specifically Part 107. Please check the specific state jurisdiction for additional permissions, licensing, or clearance requirements.

Following these rules will keep you and your drone safe and will help keep the airspace available to everyone.

  1. Fly only for recreational purposes (enjoyment). 
  2. Follow the safety guidelines of an FAA-recognized Community Based Organization (CBO). Note: We have not yet begun officially recognizing CBOs. Recreational flyers should follow the safety guidelines of existing aeromodelling organizations or use the FAA-provided safety guidelines per Advisory Circular 91-57B.
  3. Keep your drone within the visual line of sight or use a co-located visual observer (physically next to) and in direct communication with you.
  4. Give way to and do not interfere with crewed aircraft.
  5. Fly at or below 400′ in controlled airspace (Class B, C, D, and E) with prior authorization by using LAANC or DroneZone.
  6. Fly at or below 400 feet in Class G (uncontrolled) airspace. Note: Drone flights may be prohibited in certain airspace or may require FAA authorization. A drone pilot can find navigable airspace, other Classes of airspace, and flying restrictions on our B4UFLY app or the UAS Facility Maps webpage.
  7. Take The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST) and carry proof of test passage.
  8. Have a current registrationmark (PDF) your drones on the outside with the registration number, and carry proof of registration with you.
  9. Do not dangerously operate your drone. For example:
    • Do not interfere with emergency response or law enforcement activities.
    • Do not fly under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
    • Avoid flying near or over critical infrastructure.

Recreational drone pilots should know that if they intentionally violate any of these safety requirements and/or operate their drone flight carelessly or recklessly, they could be liable for criminal and/or civil penalties.

It is recommended that recreational drone operators consult the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules and regulations on the proper use of recreational drones and use common sense when operating these devices around crowded public areas, wildlife, or historic resources.


Notes for Commercial Drone Services operations in Florida

If you have a small drone that is less than 55 pounds, you can fly for work or business by following the Drone Laws in the USA defined by FAA Part 107 guidelines.

Commercial drone operations in Florida State are approved under the FAA Part 107. Please check the specific state jurisdiction for additional permissions, licensing, or clearance requirements.

There are three main steps drone owners must follow To fly under Part 107 rules:

Step 1: Learn the Rules

  1. Make sure you understand what is and is not allowed under Part 107 rules. Review a summary of the Part 107 rules (PDF). Still unsure if Part 107 rules work for you and your intended UAS operation? Check the FAA user identification tool.
  2. Some operations are not covered by Part 107 and will require a waiver. Here are some common examples of Part 107 sections that are subject to waiver:
    • Operation from a moving vehicle or aircraft (§ 107.25) *
    • Daylight operation (§ 107.29)
    • Visual line of sight aircraft operation (§ 107.31) *
    • Visual observer (§ 107.33)
    • Operation of multiple small unmanned aircraft systems (§ 107.35)
    • Yielding the right of way (§ 107.37(a))
    • Operation over people (§ 107.39)
    • Operation in certain airspace (§ 107.41)
    • Operating limitations for small unmanned aircraft (§ 107.51) 
    • *The FAA will not waive this section to allow the carriage of property of another by aircraft for compensation or hire.
    • If your operation will require a waiver, read about the Part 107 Waiver application process.
  3. Commercial Drone Pilots should avoid flying near airports because it is difficult for manned aircraft to see and avoid a drone while flying. Remember that the UAS operator must avoid crewed aircraft and are responsible for any safety hazard their drone creates in an airport environment. Read more about flying near airports.

Step 2: Become an FAA-Certified Drone Pilot by Passing the Knowledge Test

  1. To be eligible to get your Remote Pilot Certificate, you must be:
    • At least 16 years old
    • Able to read, write, speak, and understand English
    • Be in a physical and mental condition to safely fly a UAS
  2. Review the entire process to get your Remote Pilot Certificate.
  3. Study for the Knowledge Test by reviewing the Test Prep materials provided by the FAA.
  4. Obtain an FAA Tracking Number (FTN) by creating an Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (IACRA) profile before registering for a knowledge test.
  5. Schedule an appointment to take the Knowledge Test at an FAA-approved Knowledge Testing Center.
  6. Once you’ve passed your test, complete FAA Form 8710-13 for a remote pilot certificate (FAA Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application) using the electronic FAA Integrated Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application system (IACRA)*
  7. You are now eligible to operate as a commercial drone pilot

Step 3: Register your drone with the FAA

  • Registration costs $5 and is valid for three years. You’ll need a credit or debit card and the make and model of your drone handy to register.
  • Visit dronezone.faa.gov and select “Fly sUAS under Part 107” to create an account and register your drone.
  • Once you’ve registered, mark your drone (PDF) with your registration number if it gets lost or stolen.

Useful published information on flying drones in Florida

We have partnered with the FAA and other drone enthusiasts in supporting an internet educational campaign called Know Before You Fly. The tips, pointers, and resources apply to Florida Drone Users also. Please visit the site for additional information: Know Before You Fly

Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International – Mostly for commercial drone service providers and users.

Academy of Model Aeronautics – Mostly for hobbyists

NOTE: Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (SUAS), Small UAS, Remote Piloted Aerial Systems (RPAS), unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), and drone are interchangeable terms unless specified. Model aircraft, toy aircraft, Remote controlled aircraft, and RC aircraft may be covered by the same regulations unless specified.


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IMPORTANT NOTE

The content on this site is collated by volunteers from public general information. This material is not presented as legal advice of any kind, and we cannot guarantee that the information is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. Do not substitute the information you find here for legal advice from a licensed attorney who is authorized to practice in the jurisdiction. When in doubt, contact the local aviation authority responsible for drone safety, utilize a licensed drone service operator, and/or consult a qualified attorney.

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