Agencies Responsible for regulating drones in Michigan
Federal Aviation Administration
FAA Drone Website: https://www.faa.gov/uas/
UAS Laws – General rules for flying drones in Michigan
Drone operation in Michigan 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 Michigan legislature has enacted several supplemental rules specific to Michigan drone operations. The highlights are enumerated below. For more details go to the links above and search for unmanned aircraft
Are drones allowed in Michigan?
Drones are allowed in Michigan 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 the Michigan State legislature
Michigan Senate Bill SB 992 (2016), Act 436 of 2016
SB 992 prohibits local authorities from regulating UAS operations. The only exception is for regulated drones belonging to the locality. This law also allows FAA-qualified commercial and recreational drone pilots to fly in the state who comply with federal laws.
No UAS pilot shall operate drones in a manner that interferes—or has the potential to cause issues—with the following:
- Emergency responders
- Individual’s right to safety and reasonable expectation to privacy
- Restraining order violations
- Capture images that infringe on personal privacy
Moreover, committed sex offenders cannot use drones to communicate, stalk, photograph, film, or record persons the law prohibits them from contacting.
Drone pilots who violate this law are guilty of an offense.
Drone operators are prohibited from flying UAVs in a way that interferes with persons engaged in fishing or hunting activities.
Act 451 – Hunting & Fishing Restrictions
Illegal to use drones to aid in hunting or fishing activity.
Illegal to use drones to interfere with or disrupt lawful hunting or fishing activity.
Specific additional UAV laws by local governments or within Michigan
Many cities or towns within Michigan may have specific restrictions within their jurisdictions. We recommend checking the local jurisdiction for the latest regulations.
Town of West Bloomfield | Municipal Ordinance (2016)
This city ordinance states that all the town’s parks are no-fly zones.
The University of Michigan | University Policy (2017)
The University of Michigan ordinance bans drone operations over campus and property.
Exceptions may be granted through an official application process.
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as drones, are not permitted to operate, take off or land from, on or over University of Michigan property.
U-M property is defined as any building or property owned or controlled by the university.
The law is described in Article XVI in the U-M Regents’ Ordinance.
Violations of the ordinance can result in a civil infraction, misdemeanor, fine and/or impoundment of the drone.
EXCEPTIONS TO THE REGENTS’ ORDINANCE
- Use of UAVs for law enforcement purposes by law enforcement officers
- Use of UAVs indoors, provided that such use
- occurs in a university space or building that has established policies and procedures to permit the safe operation of UAVs and
- is conducted in accordance with those policies and procedures
- Use of UAVs in any outdoor campus locations that have been designated by the University for such use, provided that such use is conducted in accordance with the policies and procedures applicable to those locations
- A written waiver from the Ann Arbor campus Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer or their written designee(s) or Dearborn and Flint campus Chancellor or the Chancellor’s designee
U-M has established the faculty-led Institutional Autonomous Systems Committee (IASC) to provide a review and approval mechanism for anyone wishing to operate a drone on U-M property.
UAS operation rules in Parks, Recreation and Cultural Preserves
Order 5.1 | State Parks & Recreation Areas (2019)
Order 5.1 stipulates that drone pilots must never intentionally interfere with department personnel (or their designees) while performing official duties. The law also prohibits operating drones in a way that interferes or hinders search and rescue operations. Nor shall UAS pilots fly within 100yds of historical or cultural structures.
Other flight restrictions under Order 5.1 include:
- No flying over occupied beach areas
- No flying over equestrian facilities
- No flying over or close to restrooms and open changing courts
Commercial drone operators must have prior written permission to operate.
What you must know about Michigan 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 Michigan?
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 Michigan?
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 Michigan
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 Michigan, 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.
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 operating Commercial Drone Services in Michigan
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 Michigan 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.
Useful published information on flying drones in Michigan
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 Michigan 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
17 thoughts on “Drone Laws in Michigan”
Do I have to register my 3″ drone if I keep it well under 400 feet and within my farmland?
Dave, our understanding is that you will need to register
Operating a drone by state owned public land, am I allowed to fly over the state land at all to view parts of the park with pictures and or a video? The park never has anyone in it because of its swamps that are quite interesting I feel and would love to get some shots. Any thoughts?
Please see section of regulations in Parks above. Looks like you should be able to fly in most cases. We recommend you check the local park to make sure they do not have any recent restrictions.
I’ve seen drones in the sky at night. I live in Oxford, Michigan and there are actually many of them on different nights. I think they are here from a recent school shooting for security but I’m now sure how the police do surveillance like that. Do you think they are flying drones for surveillance?
Drone use by public safety organizations are not prohibited in Michigan, so its quite possible.
Is it legal or illegal to fly a drone over someone else’s property?
It is not illegal if you are flying over, it’s not restricted airspace, you are not invading their privacy, and not operating dangerously.
We have a stalker that is not permitted to access our properties. He is flying illegal Drone invading privacy. OCSD states no laws on DRONES
Please contact your local law enforcement.
So they can do nothing? The laws protect the drone operators in such a manner you would have to take it to the ground and prevent it’s contingency operations that will wipe the sd card. And then you have broken the law. I have personally watched this guy in Bedford with over 30 drones constantly on predefined routes. I keep track of them with my lidar. But does no good if you cannot provide proof. This is where the law is lacking because a drone can sit 1400 yards from your house and shoot video and if they have the right devices they can listen to your conversations as well.
Invasion of privacy goes out the window with a drone because the rich guys have their hands deep in the law process.
Nate, there might be privacy laws in Michigan that deal with this type of situation. You should check with a local lawyer. Wish you all the best
I have one in. Byron center mi harassing my teenaged nieces and elderly parents it flys low through yard at night pokes through windows
Please contact your local law enforcement
My neighbor behind me flys a drone on my property after dark and the light shines in my bedroom windows. I’m gonna shoot it down period!
Julie, you should contact your local law enforcement. In most parts of the USA, it’s illegal to shoot down drones.
Shooting at drones is a federal offense, by the way. It is the same penalty as shooting at passenger planes.