Agencies Responsible for regulating drones in Washington State
Federal Aviation Administration
FAA Drone Website: https://www.faa.gov/uas/
UAS Laws – General rules for flying drones in the State of Washington
Drone operation in the State of Washington 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 State legislature has enacted several supplemental rules specific to Washington drone operations. The highlights are enumerated below.
Are drones allowed in the State of Washington?
Drones are allowed in the State of Washington 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 State of Washington legislature
WAC 200-250-030 Drone use prohibited; State Capitol Campus
Launching, landing, or operating an unmanned aircraft from or on lands and waters within the boundaries of the state capitol campus is prohibited except for the exclusions listed under WAC 200-250-040.
The Chief Privacy Officer of the Washington Office of Privacy and Data Protection issued guidelines for unmanned aircraft systems for policymakers and stakeholders as they develop policy proposals.
Specific additional UAV laws by local governments within the State of Washington
Pierce County Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance | Municipal Law (2013)
County departments and agencies cannot operate drones and other unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to gather evidence or information connected to criminal activities. The only exceptions are situations authorized by federal and state laws.
City of Seattle Film Permit Requirement // 2017
All drone operators must apply for a special permit for filming over the city-owned property. i.e., parks, streets, and sidewalks. No permit is required when operating drones exclusively from and over private property or solely over waterways.
City of Seattle | Municipal Law (2017)
This ordinance prohibits using remote-controlled drones and other UAVs for photography, aerial videography, and other recreational purposes. The reason for this city law is to protect the privacy and safety of people and parkland wildlife.
UAS operation rules in Parks, Recreation and Cultural Preserves
Flying Drones in State Parks | WAC 352-32-130
Remote-controlled aircraft—including drones—are permitted in Washington state parks with formal written permission from the Director or designee. Permission to fly unmanned aerial systems (UAS) is granted on a single (one-time) basis or for an agreed limited duration. Applications are accepted for both recreational hobby pilots and commercial users.
However, commercial, educational, filming, and stills photography requires a special permit and an RC Aircraft Permit. Interested parties should submit applications 60 days before the activity so that reviewers have ample time to process the application. Permits may also include park rules and restrictions based on the requested use.
Bellevue Parks & Rec | Acceptable Drone Flying Sites (2018)
Drone operations are not allowed at Bellevue park. Pilots of unmanned aerial vehicles (AUV) are encouraged to fly their remote-controlled aircraft at nearby Marymoor Park Airfield or the Large recreation spaces at 60 Acres Park (based on availability). Both these venues cater to recreational model aircraft hobbyists.
Snohomish County Parks & Rec | Park Code 22.16.080 (1998)
This local park code states that no person can operate drones and other unmanned aircraft outside of areas designated and posted by the parks division.
Specific additional UAV laws laws in Jurisdictions within the State of Washington
Counties or towns within Washington may have specific restrictions within their jurisdictions. We recommend checking the local jurisdiction for the latest regulations.
What you must know about Washington State 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 Washington State?
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 Washington State?
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 Washington State
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 State, 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
- 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).
- 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.
- 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
- 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:
- Fly only for recreational purposes (personal enjoyment).
- 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.
- 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.
- Give way to and do not interfere with other aircraft.
- 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.
- 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.
- Take The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST) and carry proof of test passage when flying.
- Have a current FAA registration, mark (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.
- 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.
Notes for operating Commercial Drone Services in the State of Washington
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 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:
- Operation from a moving vehicle or aircraft – §107.25
- Operation at Night – §107.29(a)(2) and (b)
- 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 human beings – §107.39
- Operation in certain airspace – §107.41
- Operating limitations for small unmanned aircraft – §107.51
- Operations Over Moving Vehicles – §107.145
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
- Review Knowledge Test Suggested Study Materials provided by the FAA.
Obtain an FAA Tracking Number (FTN)
- Create an Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (IACRA) profile before registering for the knowledge test.
Schedule an Appointment
- Take the Knowledge Test at an FAA-approved Knowledge Testing Center.
Complete FAA Form 8710-13
- Once you’ve passed your test for a remote pilot certificate (FAA Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application), log in to the FAA Integrated Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application system (IACRA)* to complete FAA form 8710-13.
- Review the entire process to get your Remote Pilot Certificate.
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.
Commercial rules in Parks, Recreation and Cultural reserves
We suggest you contact the local parks agencies and check for specific permissions required.
Useful published information on flying drones in Washington
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 State of Washington 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 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.
NOW ITS YOUR TURN
30 thoughts on “Drone Laws in Washington State”
I just picked up a DJI Mini 3 Pro for a trip I will be taking via motorcycle in June. In attempts to stay legal, I was reading the above article about the regulations for drones in Wa state. So even IF my drone is under .55 (250grams), I need to take the TRUST test, is that correct?
Also, the extended range batteries push the drone over the 250 gram threshold, so would it be worth my while to go ahead and register the drone? Would I also need to obtain a pilots license to use the slightly heavier batteries? Thank you so much for this resource!
Thank you for your kind words. You will need to take the TRUST test, and register the drone.
Are States declaring ownership of the airspace and levying fines and penalties for airspace incursions which belongs to the United States for the purpose of air commerce? Please read United States vs Causby – 328 U.S. 256 (1946) ht…tp://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/328/256/case.html Page 328 U. S. 260 I. The United States relies on the Air Commerce Act of 1926, 44 Stat. 568, 49 U.S.C. § 171 et seq., as amended by the Civil Aeronautics Act of 1938, 52 Stat. 973, 49 U.S.C. § 401 et seq. Under those statutes, the United States has “complete and exclusive national sovereignty in the air space” over this country. 49 U.S.C. § 176(a). They grant any citizen of the United States “a public right of freedom of transit in air commerce [Footnote 4] through the navigable air space of the United States.” 49 U.S.C. § 403. And “navigable air space” is defined as “airspace above the minimum safe altitudes of flight prescribed by the Civil Aeronautics Authority.” 49 U.S.C. § 180. And it is provided that “such navigable airspace shall be subject to a public right of freedom of interstate and foreign air navigation.” Id. It is therefore argued that, since these flights were within the minimum safe altitudes of flight which had been prescribed, they were an exercise of the declared right of travel through the airspace. The United States concludes that, when flights are made within the navigable airspace without any physical invasion of the property of the landowners, there has been no taking of property. It says that, at most, there was merely incidental damage occurring as a consequence of authorized air navigation. It also argues that the landowner does not own superadjacent airspace which he has not subjected to possession by the erection of structures or other occupancy. Moreover, it is argued that, even if the United States took airspace owned by respondents, no compensable damage was shown. Any damages are said to be merely consequential for which no compensation may be obtained under the Fifth Amendment. It is ancient doctrine that at common law ownership of the land extended to the periphery of the universe — cujo
* Doug Walmsley on January 13, 2014 at 7:54amSee More
I’m looking for guidance on where I CAN fly a quadcopter recreationally and legally in Washington state. I cant fly at parks maintained by the city with the exception of the two hobby airplane clubs that want money and are located very fare from where I live. I like to keep good terms with my neighbors who are unsettled by me flying on my own property, heaven forbid flight over their property even at 150′, so that’s out. As amazing as fly through the trees in wooded areas looks, I’m looking for somewhere a little more open. so that leaves??? school fields? over the Puget sound? Are school fields considered a park maintained by the city? Again any guidance or correction to my perceived above restriction would be greatly appreciated.
If there isn’t a reasonable path for success, we should all expect failure.
Kevin, some jurisdiction have made it extremely difficult to fly a drone. You should make your local legislator aware of your concerns
There are efforts underway to establish “Remote ID” requirements that would allow people to identify drones and obtain other information about where the operator is located, etc. I don’t think they’re implemented yet, but it probably will happen sooner or later. I know there are already questions about Remote ID on the tests.
A ⅓ way down from this page is says –
“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.”
Is it really 55 pounds or .55 pounds?
The FAA has provided regulations for drones under 55 pounds which are listed on the page. Under .55 pounds are an unregulated category. Over 55 is regulated, but you must contact the FAA and each case is treated individually.
It’s difficult to figure out the local ordinances in regards to flying over private property without permission of property owner. I see there is a maximum height of 400’, and I understand that flying over others’ private property is not illegal, but finding it hard to find out a minimum height where, say, a neighbor might fly over someone’s property without it qualifying as “trespassing”. I’m dismayed that a neighbor has decided it’s okay to fly over my property and seems to want to test the limits of what he can legally do. Surely he’s recording video, and though I have nothing to hide, it feels worse than rude and a terrible violation of an expectation of basic privacy. It is alarming to pets and unsettling for family, to say the least. But what good is it to contact law enforcement if he’s not technically breaking any laws? I’m not saying he’s not, by the way, which is why I’m looking for some regulation pertaining to minimum altitude. Surely it’s not okay for him to be hovering outside my windows? It’s a shame people will take advantage of the absence of laws to behave badly until the necessary laws are written. Sort of ruins in for the ones who do have scruples.
Absolutely! My neighbor just did it at 20 feet. I told him if he did it again; I would shoot it down with my pellet gun. I’ll be the one to get into trouble probably knowing the libs tied the Police hands around here. SMH…
It’s a violation of federal law to shoot at an aircraft, and a drone is an aircraft.
It’s also a violation of several other laws to discharge a firearm into the air.
Very frustrated that privacy is not a central part of drone regulation. A drone hovered over some neighbors and I in our backyard chatting. Next door neighbor said one hovered over her and her husband while in hot tub last week and 2 days later a drone was slowly going down our street, probably casing house (and our neighborhood is beginning to see increased car prowls, let alone packages being stolen). A call to our Tumwater Police Department revealed we have no municipal codes regarding drones. I searched on the FAA website and they note they do not even address the privacy issue. I’m still trying to search the Washington State site but don’t hold out much hope. Regulation will, come too late, I am sure………
Our adjacent neighbor’s home is listed for sale. There are drone photos of the listed home along with drone photos of our home showing the lay of our land. I requested the agent crop or blur our house out as there has been a high crime spree lately of anything not nailed down. The agent and house broker refused. This in my opinion is an abuse of my private enjoyment of my property.
Are there any laws to prohibit this?
Sara, unfortunately, this does not seem to have violated drone laws. Please check whether local privacy laws restrict this
Recently my husband was repairing a covering that hides our propane tanks. He had a larger tool that is painted red that can be seen from the road.
That night when we went to bed, I heard someone talking outside our window & our dog growled. Since we are on 2 1/4 acres this was highly unusual. I first made sure the doors were all locked & then checked the cameras. A drone had been flown over the area where the tool had been setting. I understood a little of the comments. What I heard was not anything.
Laws need to be strengthen & home owners should be able to have a way to disable a drone.
Needless to say, I didn’t sleep that night.
Please contact your local law enforcement
I just had a heated argument with a drone operator who was flying his drone directly over my head, as I was working in my garden.
You operators are so concerned about your rights but ignore the right to privacy on our own property. When I showed him my middle finger he moved the drone lower about 20 feet over my head.
Then stayed there.
I think you people are a menace and the laws need to be more restrictive. I can’t think of anything more intrusive than drones and their rude and selfish behavior.
Those things are causing an uproar in neighborhoods across the country.
Steve, at the very least, the description you provide suggests trespass, and probably a violation of the FAA rule of “line of sight” to the drone operator. You can involve the police to at least get the action on record, and if the culprit can be identified (good luck), you might be able to make a case.
I don’t think you could make the argument for “trespass” since the FAA, and not local agencies regulate airspace. Homeowners don’t “own” the airspace over their houses from a legal perspective. That said, there are regulations in FAA FAR Part 107 that cover sustained operation over people. In general, transiting over an area with people is okay, but hanging around over people is restricted.
How does the law stand regarding high speed noisy drone in neighborhood day in and day out. I am way over on the next street and flies it over my yard continuously .I can not even enjoy being in my yard.
Karen, we suggest you contact local law enforcement
Some idiot flew their drone on to my friends’ private property. I’m leaving this comment here to tell them that, laws be damned, we catch that thing around here again, I’ll knock it out the sky and you’ll find it in the river. Stay away from my friends, for real.
Please note that interfering with drones can lead to personal liability and fines. We recommend you contact your local law enforcement and let them deal with it.
States that I need a permit to film in Seattle with my drone but filming in public is protected by the 1st amendment of the constitution
Ken, our understanding is that the legislatures get around this by regulating the use of the drone, not the filming.
If filming in public is legal even in state parks how can you stop me from taking pictures in a state park with my drones
Ken, we are not stopping you from doing anything. We are not regulators. We are drone enthusiast volunteers who are sharing information about the existing laws governing the use of drones.
I enjoyed the video on your website (https://drone-laws.com/drone-laws-in-washington-state/), however it looks like these are places that don’t allow drones such as state and national parks. Without knowing where exactly they were taken can you confirm the video you posted (Flying over Washington, United States – Relaxation Drone Film) was indeed done legally? Important since you are a drone-laws website 😉
Karen thank you for your comment.
You should know that we have no relationship with the videographer or publisher and we cannot ascertain the legality of drone videos posted on YouTube.
We work on the assumption that popular drone videos shown on YouTube will be considered commercial activity which requires permissions and licensing different from hobbyists, and could be properly obtained.
If these videos were illegally obtained we hope that Google YouTube would have them removed.
Thanks Karen I was wondering the same thing on legality and also on visual line of site on some of those shots. It may be possible though to get permission in parks…