Drone Laws in Minnesota

Agencies Responsible for regulating drones in the State of Minnesota

Federal Aviation Administration

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


UAS Laws – General rules for flying drones in Minnesota

Drone operation in Minnesota 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 Minnesota legislature has enacted several supplemental rules specific to Minnesota drone operations. The highlights are enumerated below. For more details go to the links above and search for unmanned aircraft

Are drones allowed in Minnesota?

Drones are allowed in Minnesota 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 Minnesota State legislature

Senate Bill – SF 3074

The omnibus data privacy bill: Chapter 82 – Sections 1, 2, and 5

Search warrant requirement

Under the new requirements, law enforcement agencies are generally required to obtain a search warrant before using a drone. However, search warrants are not required when a drone is used:

  • During or in the aftermath of an emergency situation that involves the risk of death or bodily harm to a person.
  • Over a public event where there is heightened risk to the safety of participants or bystanders.
  • To counter the risk of a terrorist attack by a specific individual or organization.
  • To prevent the loss of life and property in natural or man-made disasters and to facilitate post-recovery efforts.
  • To conduct a threat assessment in anticipation of a specific event.
  • To collect information from a public area if there is a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.
  • To collect information for crash-reconstruction purposes after a serious or deadly collision occurring on a public road.
  • Over a public area for officer training or public relations purposes.
  • For a non-law-enforcement purpose at the written request of a government entity. The government entity must specify the reason for the request and proposed period of use.

This last exception applies if another city department requests the use of a drone from the police department.

Limitation on drone use

The law prohibits deploying facial recognition or other biometric-matching technology on drones, unless authorized by a warrant. It also prohibits equipping drones with weapons or collecting data on public protests or demonstrations unless authorized by a warrant or under one of the search warrant exceptions above.

Data classification

Data collected by a UAV is classified as private data on individuals or nonpublic data. Exceptions include:

  • If the data subject requests a copy of the recording; data on other individuals who do not consent to its release must be redacted.
  • Disclosure as necessary in an emergency situation that involves the risk of death or bodily harm to a person.
  • Disclosure to the government entity making a request for UAV use for non-law-enforcement purposes.
  • If UAV data is criminal investigative data, this data is governed by Minnesota Statutes, section 13.82, subdivision 7.
  • Classification under other provisions of Minnesota Statutes, chapter 13 are retained.

Retention period

Law enforcement agencies are required to delete drone data collected within seven days after collection unless the data is part of an active criminal investigation.

No Tennessen warning

Under the new law, a Tennessen warning is not required for data collected by a UAV.

Documentation

Law enforcement agencies are required to document each use of a UAV, including providing a case number and the factual basis for each use. Documentation must also include what statutory exception under Minnesota Statutes, section 626.19, subdivision 3 applies if a warrant was not obtained.

Public comment requirements

Before a law enforcement agency purchases or uses a UAV, the agency must provide an opportunity for public comment. The agency itself must accept public comment electronically or by mail.

The city council must also provide an opportunity for public comment at a regularly scheduled meeting.

Written policies

Similar to requirements for body-worn cameras, prior to the operation of a UAV, the police chief must establish and enforce a written policy that governs its use. This includes a policy for handling requests for use by other government agencies.

While developing and adopting this policy, the agency must provide an opportunity for public comment, either electronically or by mail. The council must also provide the opportunity for public comment at a regularly scheduled council meeting.

The UAV policy must be displayed on the agency’s website unless the agency does not have a website.

If police departments acquire drones now, the Legislature allowed leeway on the deadline for related policy adoption. Law enforcement agencies have until Feb. 15, 2021, to adopt these policies. However, policies must generally be adopted before law enforcement use of drones.

Reporting

By Jan. 15 of each year, any law enforcement agency that maintains or uses a UAV must report the following information to the commissioner of Public Safety:

  • The total cost of the UAV program.
  • The number of times a UAV has been deployed without a search warrant. This includes the date of the deployment and the statutory warrant exception under Minnesota Statutes, section 626.19, subdivision 3 that authorized the use of the UAV.

MN DOT Aeronautics Rules | Chapter 8800

This state rule requires commercial drone pilots to acquire a Commercial Operations License. The annual licensing fee currently stands at 30 dollars ($30).

Minnesota Statute 360.59

All commercial UAS operators must obtain a drone certificate of insurance in accordance with this statute. Insurance cover requirements must be specific to the aircraft.

Minnesota Statute 360.60

All commercial drone pilots must register their aircraft with Minnesota’s Department of Transportation (MnDOT). There are two registration processes available.

  1. Online Aircraft Registration Application
  2. Download, complete, and submit the Aircraft Registration Application


Registration costs currently stand at $100/year.

SF 550 (2017)

This law pertains to Moose Calf Surveys and Monitoring; appropriating money to the sum of $348,000 to evaluate the use of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) for monitoring changes in ecosystems and moose populations.

Specific additional UAV laws by local governments or within Minnesota

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

Anoka County | Municipal Ordinance (2018)

This Anoka County city ordinance states that all drone users must obtain a Special Use Permit from the Parks Department to fly UAVs over the county’s parklands.

Town of St. Bonifacius | Municipal Law (2013)

This city ordinance prohibits drone operations in the city’s public airspace.

City of Bloomington | Municipal Law

Prohibits drone operations within the city’s parks. Exceptions exist for operators who have secured a Special Use Permit.

UAS operation rules in Parks, Recreation and Cultural Preserves

Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board (2001)

This ordinance prohibits all drones from takeoff, landing, and other flight operations on Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board owned/managed property without a permit. See ‘Drones’ tab on site for more details.

What you must know about Minnesota 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 Minnesota?

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 Minnesota?

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 Minnesota

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 Minnesota, 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

  1. 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).
  2. 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
  3. 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:

  1. Fly only for recreational purposes (personal enjoyment).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Give way to and do not interfere with other aircraft.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Take The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST) and carry proof of test passage when flying.
  8. Have a current FAA registrationmark (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.
  9. 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 Minnesota

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 Minnesota are approved under the FAA Part 107. Please check the specific state jurisdiction for additional permissions, licensing, or clearance requirements. Please see Minnesota-specific rules above regarding commercial drone operational 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:

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

Obtain an FAA Tracking Number (FTN)

Schedule an Appointment

Complete FAA Form 8710-13

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 Minnesota

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 Minnesota 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’s free!

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.



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IMPORTANT NOTE

The content on this site (The latest Drone Laws/Drone Regulations) is collated by volunteers from public general information. It is based on user experience, our own research, understanding, and interpretation of the laws. We always go back to the regulatory source as a starting point and apply our expertise in simplifying where possible what the authorities publish. To that understanding, we add our own first hand experience, and users experience to build a more complete picture.

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.

When your experience is different, we want to know. We welcome any feedback, corrections, or updates that can be shared with our community.

Finally, we urge you to operate your drone safely and to follow the drone laws of the location in which you are flying!

The contents of this website are open-sourced and licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States (CC By-SA 3.0 US). Feel free to share, remix, or otherwise.

6 thoughts on “Drone Laws in Minnesota”

  1. Why is it that any new invention, meant for fun and recreation, always ends up in the hands of creeps who ruin it for everyone?! The internet is a good example of that, as well. I think there should be a way to restrict drone use within so many feet of private residences. I know that’s a tough one, since people could be on their own property and have zoom capabilities. I think we all saw this coming, however, and should probably get better window coverings.

    Reply
  2. Peeping Toms are using drones in my town. I recently witnessed a small drone hovering outside the bedroom window of a lady friend. What can legally be done about this?

    Reply
  3. I’m telling you again to delete that post. It accomplished nothing and is putting the only option for resolving the problem in jeopardy.

    Reply

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