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Drone Laws in Washington DC

Summary of Drone Laws in Washington DC

Hobbyist Drone Laws For Residents of Washington DC and USA

Drone Operations in Washington DC 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 Washington DC and to find links to regulators and other credible sources!

Commercial Drone Laws For Residents of Washington DC and USA

Drone Operations in Washington DC are regulated.


  • Commercial drone flights are allowed
  • A commercial drone pilot license is required
  • Commercial Drone registration is required in Washington DC
  • 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 Washington DC and to find links to regulators and other credible sources!

Drone Laws For Foreign Visitors To Washington DC (not USA Residents)

Drone Operations in Washington DC are regulated.


  • Foreign visitor drone flights are allowed in Washington DC
  • Foreign visitor drone pilot license is required
  • Drone registration is required for visitors/tourists
  • Drone Remote ID is required in Washington DC 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 Washington DC for Visitors (Tourists) and to find links to regulators and other credible sources!

Drone Laws For Government Drone Operators

Drone Operations in Washington DC are regulated.


  • Government drone flights are allowed in Washington DC
  • Government drone pilot license is required
  • Drone registration is required for Government operations
  • Drone Remote ID is required in Washington DC 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 Washington DC for Government Drone Operations and to find links to regulators and other credible sources!

Agencies Responsible for regulating drones in Washington, DC

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 Washington, DC

Drone operation in Washington and the District of Columbia 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 Washington DC legislature has enacted several supplemental rules specific to DC State drone operations. The highlights are enumerated below.

Are drones allowed in the District of Columbia?

Drones are allowed in limited areas of Washington DC 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 Washington DC

The National Capital Region is governed by a Special Flight Rules Area (SFRA) within a 30-mile radius of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, which restricts all flights in the greater DC area.

The SFRA is divided into a 15-mile radius inner ring and a 30-mile radius outer ring.

  • Flying an unmanned aircraft within a 15-mile radius inner ring is prohibited without specific FAA authorization.
  • Flying a UAS for recreational or non-recreational use between 15 and 30 miles from Washington, D.C. is allowed under these operating conditions:
    • Aircraft must weigh less than 55 lbs. (including any attachments such as a camera)
    • Aircraft must be registered and marked (if it is not operated exclusively under the Special Rule for Model Aircraft, pending NOTAM change)
    • Fly below 400 ft.
    • Fly within visual line-of-sight
    • Fly in clear weather conditions
    • Never fly near other aircraft

Changes Coming in the Future

We highly recommend checking with the local jurisdiction for the latest information.

What you must know about Washington DC 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 Washington DC?

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 Washington DC?

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 Washington DC

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 Washington DC, 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.


Notes for Commercial Drone Services operations in Washington DC

If you have a small unmanned aircraft 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 Washington and the District of Columbia 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 Washington DC

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


Authoritative Sources of Information on Washington DC 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.


Find out why

We think you must use a Drone Preflight Checklist

And a Drone Post-flight checklist

Free Drone Flight Checklist PDF

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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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