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/

Minnesota State Legislature


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.


Notes for recreational drone pilots flying for fun in Minnesota

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 Minnesota 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 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.

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.

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


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Click here to read our Comprehensive Guide For Traveling With A Drone



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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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