Drone Laws in Pennsylvania

Agencies Responsible for regulating drones in the State of Pennsylvania

Federal Aviation Administration

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

Pennsylvania Drone Bill HB1346

UAS Laws – General rules for flying drones in Pennsylvania

Drone operation in the State of Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania legislature has enacted several supplemental rules specific to Pennsylvania drone operations. The highlights are enumerated below. For more details go to the links above.

Are drones allowed in Pennsylvania?

Drones are allowed in Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania State legislature


Amending Titles 18 (Crimes and Offenses) and 53 (Municipalities Generally) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in burglary and other criminal intrusions, defining the offense of unlawful use of unmanned aircraft; and, in preemptions, prohibiting local regulation of unmanned aircraft.

Section 1.​ Title 18 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes is amended by adding a section to read:
§ 3505. Unlawful use of unmanned aircraft.

  • Offense defined.–A person commits the offense of unlawful use of unmanned aircraft if the person uses an unmanned aircraft intentionally or knowingly to:
    • Conduct surveillance of another person in a private place.
    • Operate in a manner which places another person in reasonable fear of bodilyinjury.
    • Deliver, provide, transmit or furnish contraband in violation of section 5123(relating to contraband) or 61 Pa.C.S. § 5902 (relating to contraband prohibited).
  • Grading.–The offense of unlawful use of unmanned aircraft shall be graded as follows:
    • An offense under subsection (a)(1) or (2) is a summary offense punishable by afine of up to $300.
    • An offense under subsection (a)(3) is a felony of the second degree.
  • Exceptions for law enforcement officers.–Subsection (a) shall not apply if the conduct proscribed under subsection (a) is committed by any of the following:
    • Law enforcement officers engaged in the performance of their official law enforcement duties.
    • Personnel of the Department of Corrections, local correctional facility, prison or jail engaged in the performance of their official duties.
  • Other exceptions.–Subsection (a)(1) and (2) shall not apply if the conduct proscribed under subsection (a)(1) or (2) is committed by any of the following:
    • Firefighters, as defined in section 2 of the act of December 16, 1998 (P.L.980, No.129), known as the Police Officer, Firefighter, Correction Employee and National Guard Member Child Beneficiary Education Act, or special fire police, as provided for in 35 Pa.C.S. Ch. 74 Subch. D (relating to special fire police), engaged in the performance of their official firefighting or fire police duties.
    • Emergency medical responders, as defined in 35 Pa.C.S. § 8103 (relating to definitions), engaged in the performance of their official duties.
    • An employee or agent of an electric, water, natural gas or other utility while engaged in the performance of the employee’s or agent’s official duties.
    • An employee or agent of a government agency while engaged in the performance of the employee’s or agent’s official duties.
  • Aerial data collection.–Subsection (a)(1) shall not apply if the conduct proscribed is committed by a person engaged in aerial data collection if:
    • the person utilized the unmanned aircraft in a manner which complies with Federal Aviation Administration regulations or the unmanned aircraft is authorized by an exemption that is issued by the Federal Aviation Administration; and
    • the person did not knowingly or intentionally conduct surveillance of another person in a private place.
  • Definitions.–As used in this section, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings given to them in this subsection unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
    • “Bodily injury.” As defined in section 2301 (relating to definitions).
      “Law enforcement officer.” An officer of the United States, of another state or subdivision thereof, or of the Commonwealth or political subdivision thereof, who is empowered by law to conduct investigations of or to make arrests for offenses enumerated in this title or an equivalent crime in another jurisdiction and an attorney authorized by law to prosecute or participate in the prosecution of the offense.
    • “Private place.” A place where a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy. “Surveillance.” Using or causing to be used an unmanned aircraft to observe, record or invade the privacy of another.
    • “Unmanned aircraft.” An aircraft that is operated without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the aircraft.

Section 2.​ Title 53 is amended by adding a section to read: § 305. Local regulation of unmanned aircraft prohibited.

  1. Preemption.–The provisions of 18 Pa.C.S. § 3505 (relating to unlawful use of unmanned aircraft) shall preempt and supersede any ordinance, resolution, rule or other enactment of a municipality regulating the ownership or operation of unmanned aircraft. As of the effective date of this section, a municipality shall not regulate the ownership or operation of unmanned aircraft unless expressly authorized by statute.
  2. Municipal use.–Nothing under 18 Pa.C.S. § 3505 shall prohibit a municipality from using unmanned aircraft within the boundaries of the municipality for municipal purposes and regulating that use.
  3. Definition.–As used in this section, the term “municipality” shall include a county, city, borough, incorporated town or township or home rule, optional plan or optional charter municipality, any other general purpose unit of government established by the General Assembly, a municipal authority and any entity formed pursuant to Ch. 23 Subch. A (relating to intergovernmental cooperation).

UAS operation rules in Parks, Recreation and Cultural Preserves

Restrictions Rules & Regulations Policy at State Parks and state game lands

The Bureau of State Parks executed a new management policy. These rules exist to balance privacy concerns, public safety, view-shed and sound-shed protection, and FAA regulations.

Recreational drone operations—along with other unmanned aerial systems (UAS)— are restricted to designated flying sites in the six parks below.

  1. Beltzville State Park
  2. Benjamin Rush State Park
  3. Hillman State Park
  4. Lackawanna State Park
  5. Prompton State Park
  6. Tuscarora State Park

Drone and other UAS operators should contact the park office for each flying site in advance. This is to ensure they’re familiar with all the updated rules and regulations before flying. All other state parks are off-limits to recreational model pilots.

Specific additional UAV laws by local governments within Pennsylvania

There are no local drone laws in Pennsylvania at the current time.

Specific additional laws in Jurisdictions within Pennsylvania

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

What you must know about Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania?

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 Pennsylvania?

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 Pennsylvania

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 Pennsylvania, 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 Pennsylvania

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 Pennsylvania 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:

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 Pennsylvania

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 Pennsylvania 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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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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7 thoughts on “Drone Laws in Pennsylvania”

  1. I do also, they follow me back and forth to the cabin I’m building, I’ve seen them hovering above it looking inside, the other night, it was clear out and there was a few of them, it’s getting really annoying and feels like harassment and stressing me out now.

  2. Every time I leave my house at night, there are drones that follow me. And when i am in my private back yard they also are watching me

  3. I believe there are multiple suspicious drones that fly over my property when I am in my back yard and they have been following me for weeks every night it is not raining or cloudy.
    I live on Stanbridge Street in Norristown, PA 19401.
    How can I know who they are and why they are stalking me.
    I started recording them.


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