Drone Laws in the USA

Agencies Responsible for regulating drones in the United States of America

Drone Regulator in the USA: Federal Aviation Administration

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

UAS Laws – General rules for flying drones in the USA

The USA agency responsible for drone safety, FAA, has provided many internet-accessible details on flying for fun or 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.

What you must know about USA 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 The USA?

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 The USA?

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 the USA

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 the USA, recreational UAS operations (i.e., flying for recreational purposes) are approved under law, specifically 49 USC 44809.

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.

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 the USA

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

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.


Public Safety, Law Enforcement, and Government Drone Use in the USA

The FAA has a number of sections on its website dedicated to the specific usage of drones by Public Safety, Law Enforcement, and other government agencies. We are providing links to the major ones below:

Some Frequently Asked Questions about flying drones in the USA

Can you fly a drone at night in the USA?

Yes, both recreational and Part 107-licensed drone pilots can fly their drones at night without having to apply for a waiver. However, they must follow the rules of a licensed drone pilot and basic safety rules. The FAA has allowed recreational operators to fly their drones and radio-controlled aircraft at night since 2022

Can you fly a drone over private property in the USA?

Yes, you can legally fly a drone over private property in the USA if you are not invading the owners’ privacy, damaging property, or putting people’s lives at risk. However, some local jurisdictions have passed laws restricting drone use and privacy laws that regulate the use of drones over private property. Please check our website’s specific state drone laws page for more detailed answers.

Do Drone Laws differ by State?

Yes, drone laws differ by state. Six states—Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee—prohibited UAS from flying over some property, including correctional and other facilities for utilities, defense, telecommunications, and railroads. All states except Alabama, Missouri, Nebraska, and South Carolina have laws regulating the use of drones either at a state or a local level. Please check our website’s specific state drone laws page for details.

Useful published information on flying drones in the USA

We have partnered with the FAA and other drone enthusiasts to support 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 flying Model Aircraft

US Forest Service Recreational Drone Tips

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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28 thoughts on “Drone Laws in the USA”

  1. Hello!
    I recently discovered an individual through my home Nest camera knocking on my door, receiving no answer, proceeding to video my property with a drone. I was out of town at the time therefore contacted the local police, they were told by this individual that he is allowed to video my property without permission as a member of town board.
    The police are looking into his statement to determine whether or not he’s correct.
    I feel violated and harassed. Is it legal for someone to have blanket approval to video private property? If the person is registered with the FAA as a hobbyist and then uses their position as working for a board (Conservation, Zoning, Planning, etc) as their defense is that legal?
    Thank you for any guidance on this matter.

    • Helen, drones are allowed to operate over private property, as long as they are not operated in a dangerous manner or are in violation of any privacy regulations. The situation you describe suggests that the operator was conducting inspections and this may fall into commercial activity and the appropriate regulations. For a more accurate answer, please check the page here for your specific state to see if there are any specific regulations outlawing this drone operation. You should also contact your local law enforcement, local regulator, or attorney for more specific details.

    • We don’t see any specific regulation against this. You should check with Missouri wildlife/hunting regulators just to be sure.

  2. 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.

  3. 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

          • It is of course illegal to shoot down someone’s drone. But then pursuing charges against someone for doing it would be difficult also. There are privacy laws of course. Stalking laws. Pedophile laws. And come to think of it, there are also laws against illegally photographing, videography from a drone over some one else’s private property without permission. So using any video evidence of someone shooting down your drone would be in fact admitting you were illegally operating the drone at the time.

  4. 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.

  5. 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?

  6. 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.

  7. 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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