Drone Laws in the USA

Agencies Responsible for regulating drones in the United States of America

Federal Aviation Administration

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

Updated July 11, 2022

UAS Laws – General rules for flying drones in USA

The USA agency responsible for drone safety, FAA, has provided a number of internet-accessible details on flying for fun or for work. The highlights are enumerated below. For more details go to the link above.

Are drones allowed in the USA?

Drones are allowed in the United States for recreational and commercial use, subject to FAA and local regulations. Read on for details on the Federal drone laws in the USA.

Notes for recreational drone pilots flying for fun in the USA

There’s a law (PDF) that describes how, when, and where you can fly drones for recreational purposes. You are considered a recreational user if you fly your drone for fun. It is important to know when and where you can fly and how to register your drone.

Following these rules will keep you and your drone safe and will help keep the airspace available to everyone.

  1. Fly only for recreational purposes (enjoyment). 
  2. Follow the safety guidelines of an FAA-recognized Community Based Organization (CBO). Note: We have not yet begun officially recognizing CBOs. Recreational flyers should follow the safety guidelines of existing aeromodelling organizations or use the FAA-provided safety guidelines per Advisory Circular 91-57B.
  3. Keep your drone within the visual line of sight or use a co-located visual observer (physically next to) and in direct communication with you.
  4. Give way to and do not interfere with crewed aircraft.
  5. Fly at or below 400′ in controlled airspace (Class B, C, D, and E) with prior authorization by using LAANC or DroneZone.
  6. Fly at or below 400 feet in Class G (uncontrolled) airspace. Note: Drone flights may be prohibited in certain airspace or may require FAA authorization. A drone pilot can find navigable airspace, other Classes of airspace, and flying restrictions on our B4UFLY app or the UAS Facility Maps webpage.
  7. Take The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST) and carry proof of test passage.
  8. Have a current registrationmark (PDF) your drones on the outside with the registration number, and carry proof of registration with you. For recreational flyers, the FAA does not require you to register or mark a drone which weighs less than 0.55 lbs (250 grams).
  9. Do not dangerously operate your drone. For example:
    • Do not interfere with emergency response or law enforcement activities.
    • Do not fly under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
    • Avoid flying near or over critical infrastructure.

Recreational drone pilots should know that if they intentionally violate any of these safety requirements and/or operate their drone flight carelessly or recklessly, they could be liable for criminal and/or civil penalties.

For more information, read Advisory Circular 91-57B.

Changes Coming in the Future

The law also requires:

  1. The FAA to issue guidance for how it will recognize community-based organizations.

The FAA is incrementally rolling out these features and requirements.

Check the FAA website for the latest updates.

Notes for operating Commercial Drone Services in USA

If you have a small drone that is less than 55 pounds, you can fly for work or business by following the Part 107 guidelines.

There are three main steps drone owners must follow To fly under Part 107 rules:

Step 1: Learn the Rules

  1. Make sure you understand what is and is not allowed under Part 107 rules. Review a summary of the Part 107 rules (PDF). Still unsure if Part 107 rules work for you and your intended UAS operation? Check the FAA user identification tool.
  2. Some operations are not covered by Part 107 and will require a waiver. Here are some common examples of Part 107 sections that are subject to waiver:
    • Operation from a moving vehicle or aircraft (§ 107.25) *
    • Daylight operation (§ 107.29)
    • Visual line of sight aircraft operation (§ 107.31) *
    • Visual observer (§ 107.33)
    • Operation of multiple small unmanned aircraft systems (§ 107.35)
    • Yielding the right of way (§ 107.37(a))
    • Operation over people (§ 107.39)
    • Operation in certain airspace (§ 107.41)
    • Operating limitations for small unmanned aircraft (§ 107.51) 
    • *The FAA will not waive this section to allow the carriage of property of another by aircraft for compensation or hire.
    • If your operation will require a waiver, read about the Part 107 Waiver application process.
  3. Commercial Drone Pilots should avoid flying near airports because it is difficult for manned aircraft to see and avoid a drone while flying. Remember that the UAS operator must avoid crewed aircraft and are responsible for any safety hazard their drone creates in an airport environment. Read more about flying near airports.

Step 2: Become an FAA-Certified Drone Pilot by Passing the Knowledge Test

  1. To be eligible to get your Drone License (Remote Pilot Certificate), you must be:
    • At least 16 years old
    • Able to read, write, speak, and understand English
    • Be in a physical and mental condition to safely fly a UAS
  2. Review the entire process to get your Drone License or Remote Pilot Certificate.
  3. Study for the Knowledge Test by reviewing the Test Prep materials provided by the FAA.
  4. Obtain an FAA Tracking Number (FTN) by creating an Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (IACRA) profile before registering for a knowledge test.
  5. Schedule an appointment to take the Knowledge Test at an FAA-approved Knowledge Testing Center.
  6. Once you’ve passed your test, complete FAA Form 8710-13 for a remote pilot certificate (FAA Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application) using the electronic FAA Integrated Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application system (IACRA)*
  7. You are now eligible to operate as a commercial drone pilot

Step 3: Register your drone with the FAA

  • Registration costs $5 and is valid for three years. You’ll need a credit or debit card and the make and model of your drone handy to register.
  • Visit dronezone.faa.gov and select “Fly sUAS under Part 107” to create an account and register your drone.
  • Once you’ve registered, mark your drone (PDF) with your registration number if it gets lost or stolen.


Useful published information on flying drones in USA

We have partnered with the FAA and other drone enthusiasts in supporting an internet educational campaign called Know Before You Fly. Please visit the site for additional information: Know Before You Fly

Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International – Mostly for commercial drone service providers and users.

Academy of Model Aeronautics – Mostly for hobbyists

NOTE: Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (SUAS), Small UAS, Remote Piloted Aerial Systems (RPAS), unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), and drone are interchangeable terms unless specified. Model aircraft, toy aircraft, Remote controlled aircraft, and RC aircraft may be covered by the same regulations unless specified.

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


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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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23 thoughts on “Drone Laws in the USA”

  1. I have many ducks in my backyard. They are considered livestock. I have a person operating a drone day and night and many times I find it hovering over the ducks scaring the hell out of them. Now not laying eggs which is income for us what can be done. I consider it stalking and interfering with live stock. Both which are illegal in Oregon. But police will do nothing. There has to be something or laws need to change.

  2. If I use my drone to fly myself to and from places, instead of using my car, do the FAA drone laws still apply? Is it still technically an Unmanned Aircraft?

    • This will likely be outside of the regulations provided for and you will need specific FAA permission to do so (because you are doing so in regulated airspace with a drone/person combination that exceeds 55 pounds).

      • If that Drone is in your backyard over your kids would it still be illegal to shoot down because for all you know it’s a child predator watching your kids. Cops are only allowed to go to your front door unless they are in pursuit or have a warrant

  3. I am a licensed land surveyor and certified drone pilot employed by a construction company. We are working for a university on a very large construction project. The university has a drone policy in place requiring additional training (by them of me). Flying only when escorted. Flying only at the exact applied for time (we fly once a week and must make application weekly). If weather prevents flying we must wait to following week. I believe they have no jurisdiction over me beyond that of the FAA regulations. What are your thoughts? Believe me we will not be approaching them anytime soon to challenge their regs.

      • Hi. I don’t know if I miss a post, but, Why Gil need legal assistance? He is playing by the rules of the owner or administrator of the land and the Congress gave the authority of the airspace to the FAA. As soon as the bird is airborne, is FAA business. Like I said, maybe I miss a few posts…

        • Raymond, the FAA regulates drone laws federally, however local jurisdictions (States, parks, towns, etc.) have passed various regulations that limit drone flights. These regulations have not been challenged in court and we feel we do not have enough insight on which direction this will shake out. Thus you either follow the local regulation or challenge it. That’s a decision you should make with the help of your legal adviser.

  4. Can my drone fly in to someone’s home if a window is open? And fly through their house freely, if they break my drone can I sue them?

  5. I’m scared to go home or even leave my house. I’m being stalked. Flying guard towers have lowered the everyday quality of my life. My family and I deserve justice for these crimes against us, and humanity.

    • Emily, thank you for your question. Since you asked this on the USA general page, and not a local jurisdiction, the answer is generally yes, as long as they are operating with the FAA approved limits and are not violating any local regulations. Please note that we don’t mean the limits are only found in local drone regulations, they could also be covered in other regulations put in p,ace to protect privacy, for example.

  6. My Mother just got a letter that they are going to cancel her house insurance. Because a drone saw she had growth on the roof. Are they allow to trespass properlty and film houses

    • William, in the USA, unless it’s specifically forbidden by the local jurisdiction, drones are allowed to fly over and capture images (assume this is a residential area and not classified space or critical infrastructure).

      The insurer would have been able to get the same thing from Satellite imagery also.


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