Agencies Responsible for regulating drones in the State of Iowa
Federal Aviation Administration
FAA Drone Website: https://www.faa.gov/uas/
UAS Laws – General rules for flying drones in Iowa
Drone operation in the State of Iowa 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 Iowa State legislature has enacted several supplemental rules specific to Iowa drone operations. The highlights are enumerated below.
Are drones allowed in Iowa?
Drones are allowed in Iowa 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 use laws by Iowa legislature
The law states that it’s unlawful for any state agency to operate UAVs to enforce traffic laws. Law enforcement can use drones under certain circumstances, but only after obtaining an official warrant. Thus, information collected by UAS without a warrant is disallowed in courts unless collected in a way that’s consistent with federal or state laws.
808.15 – Unmanned aerial vehicle — information — admissibility
Information obtained as a result of the use of an unmanned aerial vehicle is not admissible as evidence in a criminal or civil proceeding, unless the information is obtained pursuant to the authority of a search warrant, or unless the information is otherwise obtained in a manner that is consistent with state and federal law.
321.492B – Use of unmanned aerial vehicle for traffic law enforcement prohibited
The state or a political subdivision of the state shall not use an unmanned aerial vehicle for traffic law enforcement.
HF 2492 (p.20)
Sec. 20. NEW SECTION 719.9 USE OF UNMANNED AERIAL VEHICLE —— PROHIBITIONS.
- As used in this section:
- “Facility” means a county jail, municipal holding facility, secure facility for the detention or custody of juveniles, community-based correctional facility, or institution under the management of the department of corrections.
- “Unmanned aerial vehicle” means a vehicle or device that uses aerodynamic forces to achieve flight and is piloted remotely.
- A person shall not operate an unmanned aerial vehicle knowing that the unmanned aerial vehicle is operating in, on, or above a facility and any contiguous real property comprising the surrounding grounds of the facility, unless the unmanned aerial vehicle is operated by a law enforcement agency or the person has permission from the authority in charge of the facility to operate an unmanned aerial vehicle in, on, or above such facility.
- This section does not apply to an unmanned aerial vehicle while operating for commercial use in compliance with federal aviation administration regulations, authorizations, or exemptions.
- A person who violates this section commits a class “D” 23 27 felony.
Specific additional UAV laws by local governments within Iowa
Local governments within Iowa may have specific restrictions within their jurisdictions. We recommend checking the local jurisdiction for the latest regulations.
UAS operation rules in Parks, Recreation and Cultural Preserves
No specific Iowa State Drone laws regarding parks have been found. Please check local regulations regularly for updates.
Specific additional UAV laws laws in Jurisdictions within Iowa
Counties or towns within Iowa may have specific restrictions within their jurisdictions. We recommend checking the local jurisdiction for the latest regulations.
What you must know about Iowa No Fly Zones or No Drone Zones
You need to know if you can operate your drone, under what limitations, whether authorizations are required, and how to get those authorizations.
We encourage you to read our explainer for more details on this topic here: Explainer – What You Must Know About No Fly Zones or No Drone Zones
How do I check for no-fly zones, no-drone zones, and uncontrolled or controlled airspace in Iowa?
The FAA has partnered with Aloft to develop the B4UFLY mobile app, which can tell you if there are any airspace restrictions where you want to fly.
If you are looking for a drone no fly zone map then B4UFLY is a good place to start.
The app provides situational awareness to recreational flyers and other drone users. However, it does not allow users to obtain airspace authorizations to fly in controlled airspace, only available through the FAA’s Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC).
The B4UFLY app is available to download for free:
B4UFLY at the App Store for iOS: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/b4ufly-drone-airspace-safety/id992427109
B4UFLY at the Google Play store for Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=gov.faa.b4ufly2&hl=en_US&gl=US
B4UFLY is also available as a desktop version for preflight planning and research. https://b4ufly.aloft.ai/ (“B4UFLY App | Federal Aviation Administration”)
How do I get authorization to fly in controlled airspace in Iowa?
Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC), which is run by the FAA, is the only way to get permission to fly in controlled airspace.
LAANC is available to pilots operating under the Small UAS Rule Part 107 or under the exception for Recreational Flyers.
You can get access through one of the FAA Approved LAANC UAS Service Suppliers. Some providers have apps that can be used to apply for approval in near-real time.
There are two ways to use LAANC:
- Submit a near real-time authorization request for operations under 400 feet in controlled airspace around airports (available to Part 107 Pilots and Recreational Flyers).
- Submit a “further coordination request” if you need to fly above the designated altitude ceiling in a UASFacility Map, up to 400 feet.
- You can apply up to 90 days before a flight, and the approval is coordinated manually through the FAA (available to Part 107 pilots only).
LAANC is available at 726 airports. If you want to fly in controlled airspace near airports not offering LAANC, you can use the manual process to apply for authorization.
Notes for recreational drone pilots flying for fun in Iowa
If you have a small drone of less than 55 pounds, you can fly recreationally by following Drone Laws in the USA defined by 49 USC 44809.
In Iowa, recreational UAS operations (i.e., flying for recreational purposes) are approved under law, specifically 49 USC 44809. Please check the specific state jurisdiction for additional permissions, licensing, or clearance requirements.
Following these rules will keep you and your drone safe and help keep the airspace available to everyone.
The law requires that all recreational flyers pass an aeronautical knowledge and safety test and provide proof of passage if asked by law enforcement or FAA personnel. The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST) was developed to meet this requirement.
TRUST provides education and testing on important safety and regulatory information. If you fly your drone recreationally under the Exception for Recreational Flyers, you must pass the test before you fly.
Note: If your drone weighs more than .55 pounds (lbs), you must register your drone through the FAA‘s Drone Zone.
For a complete discussion on drone registration, see our Drone Registration Explainer.
To fly your drone as a recreational flyer, it’s as easy as 1-2-3
- Understand recreational flying requirements
- Note: Non-recreational drone flying includes things like taking photos to help sell a property or service, doing roof inspections, or taking pictures of a high school football game for the school’s website. Goodwill can also be considered non-recreational. This would include volunteering to use your drone to survey coastlines on behalf of a non-profit organization. If you’re unsure which rules apply to your flight, fly under Part 107 (See below).
- Visit the Recreational Flyers page to learn about the rules for recreational flyers.
- Download the FAA’s B4UFLY mobile app for more recreational drone flying resources.
- Take TRUST
- You may take the free online test through any of the FAA-approved test administrators.
- All FAA-approved TRUST test administrators offer the test free.
- All test questions are correctable to 100% prior to issuing your completion certificate.
- After completing TRUST, you’ll need to download, save or print your completion certificate.
- If you lose your certificate, you will need to retake TRUST.
- View a list of TRUST Test Administrators
- Receive your certificate
- After you pass the test, you will receive a certificate from the test administrator you selected.
- Test administrators will not keep a record of your certificate. If law enforcement officers ask, you must present a copy of your certificate.
General Rules for Recreational Flyers
The Exception for Limited Recreational Operations of Unmanned Aircraft (USC 44809) is the law that describes how, when, and where you can fly drones for recreational purposes. Following these rules helps keep people, your drone, and our airspace safe:
- Fly only for recreational purposes (personal enjoyment).
- Follow the safety guidelines of an FAA-recognized Community-Based Organization (CBO).
For more information on how to become an FAA-recognized CBO, read Advisory Circular 91-57C.
- Keep your drone within the visual line of sight, or use a visual observer who is co-located (physically next to) and in direct communication with you.
- Give way to and do not interfere with other aircraft.
- Fly at or below FAA-authorized altitudes in controlled airspace (Class B, C, D, and surface Class E designated for an airport) only with prior FAA authorization by using LAANC or DroneZone.
- Fly at or below 400 feet in Class G (uncontrolled) airspace.
Note: Flying drones in restricted airspace is not allowed. Drone pilots should always check for airspace restrictions prior to flight on our B4UFLY app or the UAS Facility Maps webpage.
- Take The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST) and carry proof of test passage when flying.
- Have a current FAA registration, mark (PDF) your drones on the outside with the registration number, and carry proof of registration when flying.
Note: Beginning September 16, 2023, if your drone requires an FAA registration number, it will also be required to broadcast Remote ID information.
- Do not operate your drone in a manner that endangers the safety of the national airspace system.
Recreational drone pilots should know that if they violate these safety requirements and/or operate their drone flight carelessly or recklessly, they could be liable for criminal and/or civil penalties.
You do not need a drone license if your drone use is recreational and falls within the scope of 44809. However, to fly your drone commercially or under the FAA’s Small UAS Rule (Part 107), you must first obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate (RPC), also known as a drone license or a Part 107 certificate. You may want to get your drone license for the flexibility it allows in your drone flights.
For more details on drone licensing, please see our Drone License Explainer.
Notes for operating Commercial Drone Services in Iowa
If you have a small unmanned aircraft 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 Iowa are approved under the FAA Part 107. Please check the specific state jurisdiction for additional permissions, licensing, or clearance requirements.
For a complete review of the FAA Part 107 regulation please see our comprehensive FAA 107 Explainer.
Note: The Operations Over People rule became effective on April 21, 2021. Drone pilots operating under Part 107 may fly at night, over people and moving vehicles without a waiver as long as they meet the requirements defined in the rule. Airspace authorizations are still required for night operations in controlled airspace under 400 feet.
If you have a small drone of fewer than 55 pounds, you can fly for work or business by following the Part 107 guidelines. To fly under Part 107 rules, there are three main steps.
Step 1: Learn the Rules
Ensure you understand what is and is not allowed under Part 107 rules.
If you are unsure if Part 107 rules work for you and your intended operation, check our user identification tool.
Some operations will require a waiver. Here are the regulations specified in §107.205 that are subject to waiver:
- Operation from a moving vehicle or aircraft – §107.25
- Operation at Night – §107.29(a)(2) and (b)
- 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 human beings – §107.39
- Operation in certain airspace – §107.41
- Operating limitations for small unmanned aircraft – §107.51
- Operations Over Moving Vehicles – §107.145
Learn more about Part 107 Waivers.
Drone operators should avoid flying near airports because it is difficult for crewed aircraft to see and avoid a drone while flying. Remember that the drone operator must avoid manned aircraft and are responsible for any safety hazard their drone creates in an airport environment.
Step 2: Become an FAA-Certified Drone Pilot by Passing the Knowledge Test
For more details on drone licensing, please see our Drone License Explainer.
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
Study for the Knowledge Test
- Review Knowledge Test Suggested Study Materials provided by the FAA.
Obtain an FAA Tracking Number (FTN)
- Create an Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (IACRA) profile before registering for the knowledge test.
Schedule an Appointment
- Take the Knowledge Test at an FAA-approved Knowledge Testing Center.
Complete FAA Form 8710-13
- Once you’ve passed your test for a remote pilot certificate (FAA Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application), log in to the FAA Integrated Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application system (IACRA)* to complete FAA form 8710-13.
- Review the entire process to get your Remote Pilot Certificate.
Step 3: Register your Drone with the FAA
For a complete discussion on drone registration, see our Drone Registration Explainer.
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 in order to register. Learn more about registering your drone.
- Create an account and register your drone at FAADroneZone. Select “Fly sUAS under Part 107.”
- Once you’ve registered, mark your drone (PDF) with your registration number in case it gets lost or stolen.
Commercial rules in Parks, Recreation and Cultural reserves
We suggest you contact the local parks agencies and check for specific permissions required.
Useful published information on flying drones in Iowa
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 Iowa 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, remote-controlled, and RC aircraft may be covered by the same regulations unless specified.
Find out why we think you must use a Drone Preflight Checklist and a Drone Post-flight checklist
Free Drone Flight Checklist PDF
This Drone Flight Checklists is better than others.
It includes both the preflight checklist and post-flight checklist
It’s an easy to use printable pdf that covers all your bases.
Traveling with a Drone?
Click here to read our Comprehensive Guide For Traveling With A Drone.
NOW ITS YOUR TURN
18 thoughts on “Drone Laws in Iowa”
Please update the section Notes for Commercial, under #2, daylight operations 107.29. In March 2021 the FAA stopped issuing waivers for flying outside of daylight hours and on May 17, 2021 any waivers that had been issued were terminated. The Part 107 test and recurrent test were updated to include night flying requirements on April 21, 2021.
Thank you. Updated
Does Iowa require any additional license than a part 107? I have been flying commercially for the last 5 years here in Minnesota, they require a state registration fee, a commercial operations license, and MNDOT required they were listed on the extremely expensive insurance policy.
I may be taking a new position in Iowa. And I want to make sure I have commercial drone operations covered. From what I read it appeared there were no such requirements in Iowa!!??
And my two cents on the privacy issue …
Having dealt with it professionally for almost 30 years of video production. No drone operator should be operating in a manner that would appear to be aggressive and with no authorization. Even general camera shoots in large facilities you should have permission from anyone on camera. Its a talent release form use them all the time.
Commercial pilots use mobile apps to navigate air space up to 400 Ft and in some cases higher with special authorization from the nearest airport…even the tiny ones! Including flight plan with location verification for controlled airspace, duration of flight and alt. No commercial pilot would risk his license for abusive behavior. Sadly those who have had bad encounters are likely dealing with some numbskull that just went and bought one at best buy. A couple bad apples ruining it for others. That being said next time you have a bad encounter try to document what is going on. Commercial Operations will have flight logs. And contact the local authorities!
That being said! I am excited to a potential move back to the mother land! Been gone for over 30 years!
Darin, we are unaware of any special requirements beyond part 107 for commercial drone use in Iowa. We just checked the Iowa DOT also, and there were none. We always recommend checking the regulators’ websites for the latest, and the DOT website: https://iowadot.gov/aviation/unmanned-aircraft-systems also provides links to IOWA controlled airspace map.
Thank you for your thoughtful words on the privacy and responsible use of drones.
Within Iowa, is it legal to fly (traverse) over railroad tracks that are empty (no trains present)?
Yes, if it is not restricted airspace
You say contact your local law enforcement but what if it’s your local law enforcement that are operating the drone. On any given night I can see three to four drones flying over my town. I pretty much let the operator know I’ve spotted there drone and they will most times turn there lights off and move a couple hundred yards away and turn them back on. I have night vision video backing this statement up.
I get it there looking for crimes either in the process or already happened. The law says they are not allowed to do this, invade my personal space and privacy. Every night!!!! It’s not just me they check out, any kind of activity after dark and they are watching.
Jody, your local law enforcement and regualtors are the recommended path for dealing with these issues. You can also speak with a local attorney for better advice.
I have had a drone over my house for last couple years and I believe it’s police drone but how can I prove who it is and what rights do I have as a person because in my opinion it’s harassment I have plenty of videos to prove this and anyone can come see it’s over my property every night
Dan, you should contact your local law enforcement
I am a female who lives in a small rural Iowa town. I live with & care for my elderly parent. I also grew up in this town, feeling, for the most part safe when I’m able to go for night time walks. Until I noticed the amount of drones who were seemingly following me in the night sky. I can look up & spot one… It seems to move more toward me if I stop for a.minute. I can’t turn halfway around, and there will be one there too. And reacts in the same way as the 1st one I mentioned. I’ve turned a quarter way around & see yet another. I’ve looked at them thru my phone’s night camera & through binoculars,… Until it creeps me out SO bad I end my night time peace & serenity, in this crazy world, I just go back indoors feeling SO invaded by these things STALKING ME!!!
WHO ARE THE PEOPLE THAT MAN THESE STALKERS???!!! AND WHY??? IM NOT TALKING ABOUT A TOY OR RECREATIONAL VEHICLE 55 LBS & UNDER EITHER. IT’S FLIPPIN CREEPY!!!
Please contact your local law enforcement and report these incidents
I had a drone fly into my backyard, behind a privacy fence, below the tree line at the level of my upstairs bedroom sliding doors. Hovering no less. This was invasion of privacy, trespassing, and suspicious of criminal intent. The Drone was out of sight of the owner. I have 10 acres my neighbor has 30 Acres and he did not give anyone permission to use his property. This was clearly against the law. I have contacted the police. I have contacted FAA. I have even written to the county representative. I have no problem with recreational drone use but not to this level. What this drone operator did is absolutely illegal. I wish the government would stop defending criminals. I wish people would stop pretending this kind of activity is okay. I pay my annual property taxes and I do not pay to let other people use my property for their entertainment/criminal activity. This was Far Beyond airspace freedom. The most frustrating thing of all is it seems like there’s no one there to help me. And if I tried to defend myself somehow I become the criminal. Absolutely sickening.
Frustrating indeed when drone operators do not follow the law. Please continue to work with your local law enforcement and reporting these incidents to the FAA
I am concerned with the privacy issues drones bring with their use. I am also concerned with theft that can be aided by drones. If a drone operater Flys low enough to see a person’s property and comes back after dark to steal said property. It will be a little late to prevent the theft. I live in a rural area and have seen drone operators parked on public roads and landing them in roadways. Surely this would be a safety concern.
So firstly how is anything you mentioned different than some one walking past your house? They can see your property and decide to come back later and steal it without the use of a drone. Drones are loud. you aren’t going to miss one flying around you or your property. They are expensive the common thief isn’t going to have one unless they stole it from somewhere. Your last point I can at least kind of see. Yeah pulling over on the side of the road could be dangerous but if they aren’t stopped in the middle or the road then they are in a place they are allowed to be. Its your job to look out for hazards while driving. Just like you don’t run down a tractor just because it happens to be there. Regarding landing there are two different types of drones. The GPS enabled photography drones and the FPV drones. Photography drones you have nothing to worry about. They are GPS enabled and extremely easy to fly. They also have onboard sensors to prevent them from flying into people or objects. The FPV style drones are much more difficult to fly. Think the difference of a motorcycle vs driving a car. Yeah I know bikes aren’t that hard to fly but if you have never been on one before its tough. Once you know how to fly it though its pretty easy. FPV stand for First person View. It means there is an onboard camera and the pilot is wearing a headset which enables him to see what the Drone sees as if he were in it. This allows him to see his environment and immediate area for potential hazards. However you should note that an FPV pilot is required to have a visual observer present while they are in the air. This is because the goggles limit their vision and having an observer allows them to be more aware of their surroundings. Photography drones typically don’t have visual observers as drones are required by FAA law to be within visual line of sight and since the pilot isn’t wearing any head gear they are able to observe the drone themselves.
I realize your concerns are real to you but you also have to have a grain of reason to them. Anyone can steal your stuff and some one behaving responsibly in their piloting of their drone is not a threat to safety. Most of us pilots paid an arm and a leg for their gear and don’t want to abuse it or risk it beyond reason. This gear is EXPENSIVE and a lot of fun. Maybe next time you see a pilot on the side of the road stop and ask him if you can check out his gear. You might realize its not a threat and in fact a really interesting hobby. Look us up in face book. Eastern Iowa FPV Any of the pilots there would be happy to talk to you about your concerns or maybe even let you come with us for a ride along flight.
I think the drone technology is awesome, very useful, but concerning. My concern is drones flying around above houses in my neighborhood. I recently experienced this and felt as though there could be issues with privacy based off of when I heard it’s buzzing, then discovered where it was and who was flying it. Is this legal? If it is or isn’t, could we get a clear message out to people, i.e. it is or isn’t legal to fly drones over other people’s houses/property.
It is legal to do so. As long as it is not controlled air space. Is it creepy? Yes. But in most cases Drone Pilots are just out flying and enjoying their time not trying to spy on anyone. I’m sure there are a few out there hoping to use drones for criminal reasons but it does not make much sense to spend the kind of money good drones cost to do that.