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Drone Laws in Virginia

Summary of Drone Laws in Virginia

Hobbyist Drone Laws For Residents of Virginia and USA

Drone Operations in Virginia are regulated.


  • Hobbyist drone flights are allowed
  • Hobbyist drone pilot license may be required for certain operations.
  • A TRUST Test is required.
  • Hobbyist Drone registration is required for hobbyists flying a drone of more than 0.55 lbs.
  • Drone Remote ID is required for hobbyists, although full implementation is delayed
  • Drone Insurance is not required but recommended for hobbyists’ drone operations

Read below for more details on Hobbyist Drone Laws in Virginia and to find links to regulators and other credible sources!

Commercial Drone Laws For Residents of Virginia and USA

Drone Operations in Virginia are regulated.


  • Commercial drone flights are allowed
  • A commercial drone pilot license is required
  • Commercial Drone registration is required in Virginia
  • Drone Remote ID is required for Commercial Drone Operators. However, full implementation has been delayed
  • Drone Insurance is not required but recommended for commercial drone operations

Read below for more details on Commercial Drone Laws in Virginia and to find links to regulators and other credible sources!

Drone Laws For Foreign Visitors To Virginia (not USA Residents)

Drone Operations in Virginia are regulated.


  • Foreign visitor drone flights are allowed in Virginia
  • Foreign visitor drone pilot license is required
  • Drone registration is required for visitors/tourists
  • Drone Remote ID is required in Virginia for tourists. However, full implementation has been delayed.
  • Drone Insurance is not required but recommended for tourist drone operations

Read below for more details on Drone Laws in Virginia for Visitors (Tourists) and to find links to regulators and other credible sources!

Drone Laws For Government Drone Operators

Drone Operations in Virginia are regulated.


  • Government drone flights are allowed in Virginia
  • Government drone pilot license is required
  • Drone registration is required for Government operations
  • Drone Remote ID is required in Virginia for Government operations. However, full implementation has been delayed.
  • Drone Insurance is not required for Government drone operations

Read below for more details on Drone Laws in Virginia for Government Drone Operations and to find links to regulators and other credible sources!

Agencies Responsible for regulating drones in the State of Virginia

Drone Regulator in the USA: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

Contact Information

If you need additional details we have not covered or specific case assistance, you can contact the FAA directly at:

  • Address: 800 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20591
  • Phone: 844-FLY-MY-UA (+1 844-359-6982)
  • EmailUAShelp@faa.gov

Please continue reading for more details on USA Drone Laws.


UAS Laws – General rules for flying drones in Virginia

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

Are drones allowed in Virginia?

Drones are allowed in Virginia for recreational and commercial use, subject to FAA regulations and flight controls established by local governments. Read on for details.

Specific additional drone use laws by the Virginia State legislature

Definitions:

Unmanned aircraft” means an aircraft that is operated without the possibility of human intervention from within or on the aircraft.

Unmanned aircraft system” means an unmanned aircraft and associated elements, including communication links, sensing devices, and the components that control the unmanned aircraft.

Statutes/Bills:

5.1-5. Registration of aircraft.

Any owner of an unmanned aircraft, as defined in § 19.2-60.1, shall not be required to register such aircraft.

15.2-926.3. Local regulation of certain aircraft.

No locality political subdivision may regulate using a privately owned, unmanned aircraft system as defined in § 19.2-60.1 within its boundaries. Nothing in this section shall permit a person to go or enter upon land owned by a political subdivision solely because he has an unmanned aircraft system if he would not otherwise be permitted entry upon such land.

19.2-60.1. Use of unmanned aircraft systems by public bodies; search warrant required.

A. As used in this section, unless the context requires a different meaning:

“Unmanned aircraft” means an aircraft that is operated without the possibility of human intervention from within or on the aircraft.

“Unmanned aircraft system” means an unmanned aircraft and associated elements, including communication links, sensing devices, and the components that control the unmanned aircraft.

B. No state or local government department, agency, or instrumentality having jurisdiction over criminal law enforcement or regulatory violations, including but not limited to the Department of State Police and no department of law enforcement, as defined in § 15.2-836 of any county, city, or town, shall utilize an unmanned aircraft system except during the execution of a search warrant issued pursuant to this chapter or an administrative or inspection warrant issued pursuant to law.

C. Notwithstanding the prohibition in this section, an unmanned aircraft system may be deployed without a warrant (i) when an Amber Alert is activated pursuant to § 52-34.3; (ii) when a Senior Alert is activated pursuant to § 52-34.6; (iii) when a Blue Alert is activated pursuant to § 52-34.9; (iv) where use of an unmanned aircraft system is determined to be necessary to alleviate an immediate danger to any person; (v) by a law-enforcement officer following an accident where a report is required pursuant to §46.2-373, to survey the scene of such accident for the purpose of crash reconstruction and record the scene by photographic or video images; (vi) by the Department of Transportation when assisting a law-enforcement officer to prepare a report pursuant to § 46.2-373; (vii) for training exercises related to such uses; (viii) if a person with legal authority consents to the warrantless search; or (ix) by a law-enforcement officer to (a) aerially survey a primary residence of the subject of the arrest warrant to formulate a plan to execute an existing arrest warrant or capias for a felony offense or (b) locate a person sought for arrest when such person has fled from a law-enforcement officer and a law-enforcement officer remains in hot pursuit of such person.

D. The warrant requirements of this section shall not apply when such systems are utilized to support the Commonwealth or any locality for purposes other than law enforcement, including damage assessment, traffic assessment, flood stage assessment, and wildfire assessment. Nothing herein shall prohibit using unmanned aircraft systems for private, commercial, or recreational use or solely for research and development purposes by higher education institutions and other research organizations or institutions.

E. Evidence obtained through using an unmanned aircraft system in violation of this section is not admissible in any criminal or civil proceeding.

F. In no case may a weaponized unmanned aircraft system be deployed in the Commonwealth or its use facilitated in the Commonwealth by a state or local government department, agency, or instrumentality or department of law enforcement in the Commonwealth except in operations at the Space Port and Naval/Aegis facilities at Wallops Island.

G. Nothing herein shall apply to the Armed Forces of the United States or the Virginia National Guard while utilizing unmanned aircraft systems during training required to maintain readiness for its federal mission or when facilitating training for other U.S. Department of Defense units.

HB 2350 Peeping or spying into a dwelling or occupied building by an electronic device; penalty.

Makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor to use UAS to trespass upon the property of another for the purpose of secretly or furtively peeping, spying, or attempting to peep or spy into a dwelling or occupied building located on such property. 

SB 873 Authority of a fire chief over unmanned aircraft at a fire, explosion, or other hazardous situation.

Specifies that the fire chief or other officer in charge of a fire department has the authority to maintain order at an emergency incident, including the immediate airspace. Individuals who don’t obey the orders of the officer in charge are guilty of a class 4 misdemeanor.

HB 683 Trespass; use of an unmanned aircraft system, penalty

1. That §15.2-926.3 of the Code of Virginia is amended and reenacted and that the Code of Virginia is amended by adding a section numbered 18.2-121.3 and by adding in Article 8 of Chapter 7 of Title 18.2 a section numbered 18.2-324.2 as follows:

18.2-121.3Trespass with an unmanned aircraft system; penalty.

A. Any person who knowingly and intentionally causes an unmanned aircraft system to (i) enter the property of another and come within 50 feet of a dwelling house (a) to coerce, intimidate, or harass another person or (b) after having been given actual notice to desist, for any other reason, or (ii) take off or land in violation of current Federal Aviation Administration Special Security Instructions or UAS Security Sensitive Airspace Restrictions is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

B. This section shall not apply to any person who causes an unmanned aircraft system to enter the property as outlined in subsection A if (i) consent is given to the entry by any person with legal authority to consent or by any person who is lawfully present on such property or (ii) such person is authorized by federal regulations to operate an unmanned aircraft system and is operating such system in an otherwise lawful manner and consistent with federal regulations.

18.2-324.2Use of unmanned aircraft system for certain purposes; penalty.

A. It is unlawful for any person who is required to register pursuant to §9.1-901 to use or operate an unmanned aircraft system to knowingly and intentionally (i) follow or contact another person without the permission of such person or (ii) capture the images of another person without the permission of such person when such images render the person recognizable by his face, likeness, or other distinguishing characteristics.

B. It is unlawful for a respondent of a protective order issued pursuant to §16.1-279.1 or 19.2-152.10 to knowingly and intentionally use or operate an unmanned aircraft system to follow, contact, or capture images of the petitioner of the protective order or any other individual named in the protective order.

C. A violation of this section is a Class 1 misdemeanor.

2. That the second enactment of Chapter 451 of the Acts of Assembly of 2016 is repealed.

3. That the Secretary of Commerce and Trade, in consultation with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, shall study the impact of this act on unmanned aircraft research, innovation, and economic development in Virginia and report to the Governor and General Assembly no later than November 1, 2019.

UAS in Virginia State Parks

Code of Virginia 4VAC5-30-400 (2010)

This Virginia code bans drone operations in all Virginia State Parks or DCR-owned property unless the pilot has a DCR-issued Special Use Permit. Only two categories of drone operators can apply for Special Use Permits, i.e., research-based activities and commercial. 

All Fairfax County Parks in Northern Virginia currently allow UAV/UAS/drones to fly within their parks. But they do state that all FAA drone rules apply while flying in any park.

Northern Virginia: Fairfax County Parks where flying UAS/UAV/drones is permitted in Northern Virginia:
• Burke Lake Park
• Fountainhead Regional Park

All Virginia State Parks do not currently allow any UAS/UAV/drone flying within their parks.

All National Parks located in the state of Virginia do not currently allow any UAS/UAV/drone flying within their parks.

Specific additional UAV laws by local governments within Virginia State

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

Specific additional laws in Jurisdictions within Virginia

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

What you must know about Virginia No Fly Zones or No Drone Zones

You need to know if you can operate your drone. Under what limitations? Will you need flight authorizations? And, if so, how do you get those authorizations?

We encourage you to read our explainer. It provides more details 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 Virginia?

The FAA has partnered with Aloft to develop the B4UFLY mobile app. The app 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. You will need airspace authorizations to fly in controlled airspace. This app does not allow you to get airspace authorizations. Authorizations are available through the FAA’s Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC).

The B4UFLY app is available to download for free:

Get the B4UFLY at the App Store for iOS.  https://apps.apple.com/us/app/b4ufly-drone-airspace-safety/id992427109

Get the 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 Virginia?

The FAA runs Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC). It is the only way to get permission to fly in controlled airspace.

LAANC is available to drone pilots. It applies if you are operating under the Small UAS Rule Part 107. And it applies if you are operating 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. Applies to flights under 400 feet in controlled airspace around airports. This is available to Part 107 Pilots and Recreational Flyers.
  • Submit a “further coordination request.” This applies if you need to fly above the designated altitude ceiling in a UAS Facility Map, up to 400 feet.
  • You can apply up to 90 days before a flight. The approval is coordinated manually through the FAA. This is available to Part 107 pilots only.

LAANC is available at 726 airports. Use the manual process to apply for authorizations for airports not offering LAANC.


Notes for recreational drone pilots flying for fun in Virginia

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 Virginia, 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 that helps keep the airspace available to everyone.

All recreational flyers must pass an aeronautical knowledge and safety test. The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST) meets this rule. If law enforcement or FAA personnel ask, you must provide proof of passage. 

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 use is when you fly drones for business or to help out, not just for fun. For example, real estate agents may use drones to photograph houses they sell. Roof inspectors might use drones to get a closer look at roofs. A high school might have someone fly a drone to record football games and post videos on their website. Doing volunteer work with drones also counts as non-recreational use. So, non-recreational drone use is any time you operate a drone for useful work. Or help others out. It is when you are not just doing it to enjoy flying it for hobby or sport. 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.
  2. Take TRUST
    • You may take the free online test through any FAA-approved test administrators.
    • All FAA-approved TRUST test administrators offer the test free.
    • All test questions are correctable to 100% before issuing your completion certificate.
    • After completing TRUST, you must 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. The test administrator you selected gives you your certificate.
    • 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

USC44809 is the Exception for Limited Recreational Operations of Unmanned Aircraft. The law 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). Read Advisory Circular 91-57C. It provides more information on how to become an FAA-recognized CBO, 
  3. Keep your drone within the visual line of sight. Or use a visual observer who is physically next to you and directly communicating with you.
  4. Give way to and do not interfere with other aircraft.
  5. Fly at or below FAA-authorized altitudes in controlled airspace with prior FAA authorization. Controlled airspace is Class B, C, D, and surface Class E designated for an airport. Get your FAA authorization 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. Before the flight, drone pilots should always check for airspace restrictions. You can do so on the 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 registration. Mark (PDF) your drones on the outside with the registration number. And carry proof of registration when flying. Starting September 16, 2023, registered drones must broadcast Remote ID information. The FAA has delayed enforcement to March 16, 2024.
  9. Do not operate your drone in a manner that endangers the safety of the national airspace system.

Recreational drone pilots must not violate safety requirements. Nor should they operate their drone flight carelessly or recklessly. You could be liable for criminal and/or civil penalties if you do.

You do not need a drone license if your drone use is recreational and falls within the scope of 44809. But, to fly your drone commercially, you must first get a Remote Pilot Certificate (RPC). This is also true for flights under the FAA’s Small UAS Rule (Part 107). The RPC is 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.

Hobbyist rules in Parks, Recreation and Cultural Preserves

Virginia State Parks recommends that recreational drone users check with their local State Park District before operating a UAS within a State Park. Each park unit may have its own posted orders. Even absent a posted order on drones, it is within the discretion of park staff to contact drone operators when drones threaten visitors, property, wildlife, or privacy. If a drone operator continues to fly in a dangerous or reckless manner, they may be asked to stop flying and remove the drone from park boundaries.

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 Virginia

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 Virginia State 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. There are three main steps to fly under Part 107 rules.

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 need 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. It is difficult for crewed aircraft to see and avoid a drone while flying. Remember that the drone operator must avoid manned aircraft. You are responsible for any safety hazard your 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

Get 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 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. The number will be helpful in case it gets lost or stolen.

Useful published information on flying drones in Virginia

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 Virginia Drone Users also. Please visit the site for additional information: Know Before You Fly


Authoritative Sources of Information on Virginia Drone Laws

We will attempt to keep an updated list of online authoritative links to regulators and other official websites here:



NOTE: This page is about the Regulation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: 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.


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



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7 responses to “Drone Laws in Virginia”

  1. T. W. Lipsey

    I had an adult male flying his drone over our high school at a football game in Virginia Beach. The male was flying the drone very low over other patrons heads and close to LEOs. We had patrons complain that they were uncomfortable. If we, the staff at the school asked the adult to stop flying his drone and he refuses to stop what state law if any would address this violation?

    1. Merlin at Drone Laws

      Not sure there is any regulation that specifically prohibits this, but you can see 18.2-324.2. Use of unmanned aircraft system for certain purposes which is detailed above if the person was taking images of the patrons and players.

  2. Aaron Silvious

    Thanks for all the useful info.

  3. Sharon

    My landlord threatened me with drones, he won’t give me door locks I feel threatened

    1. Merlin at Drone Laws

      Contact your local law enforcement

  4. Casher Haggerty

    I was reading about what state parks I can fly my drone in. I clicked the header “UAS in State Parks” hoping it would take me to a refence of the actual law on flying in state parks, but it links to the California parks and rec page.

    1. Merlin at Drone Laws

      Casher, thank you for pointing this out to us. We corrected the link to the Virginia State Park Drone regulation.

Leave a Comment

7 thoughts on “Drone Laws in Virginia”

  1. I had an adult male flying his drone over our high school at a football game in Virginia Beach. The male was flying the drone very low over other patrons heads and close to LEOs. We had patrons complain that they were uncomfortable. If we, the staff at the school asked the adult to stop flying his drone and he refuses to stop what state law if any would address this violation?

    Reply
    • Not sure there is any regulation that specifically prohibits this, but you can see 18.2-324.2. Use of unmanned aircraft system for certain purposes which is detailed above if the person was taking images of the patrons and players.

      Reply
  2. I was reading about what state parks I can fly my drone in. I clicked the header “UAS in State Parks” hoping it would take me to a refence of the actual law on flying in state parks, but it links to the California parks and rec page.

    Reply

Leave a Comment