Drone Laws in Iowa

Agencies Responsible for regulating drones in the State of Iowa

Federal Aviation Administration

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

Iowa Legislature Drone Laws

Updated February 19, 2022


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

House Bill HB 2289 (2014)

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.


Notes for recreational drone pilots flying for fun in Iowa

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 Iowa are approved under Federal law, specifically the FAA 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. For recreational flyers, the FAA does not require you to register or mark a drone which weighs less than 0.55 lbs (250 grams).
  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.


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.

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 Drone License (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 Drone License or 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.

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 aircraft, Remote controlled aircraft, and RC aircraft may be covered by the same regulations unless specified.


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The content on this site (The latest Drone Laws/Drone Regulations) 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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3 thoughts on “Drone Laws in Iowa”

  1. 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.

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  2. 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.

    Reply

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