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If flying a drone wasn’t complicated enough, now you have to worry about whether you need to get a drone license.
Don’t worry; we will help you determine if you qualify for a drone license and the rules it enforces for flying.
Who needs to obtain a drone license?
Whether you need to obtain a license for your drone is a little more complicated than if you need to get one to drive a car.
The Part 107 certificate, also known as your drone certificate, licenses you to fly your drone while also enforcing restrictions such as only flying within your line of sight and other stuff covered in our how to fly a drone article.
Usually, the question can be answered with how you are using your drone- to make money, or purely as a hobby?
The FAA measures the usage of your drone by what your intent was at the time of take-off. Therefore, if you intend to use your drone commercially to make money, you should always get a license.
Even if you don’t collect money for these activities, shooting commercially without a license is indeed breaking the law.
If your drone weighs 0.55 lbs or more, you will have to obtain a license and register it with the FAA (registration will cost $5 per drone) and display your registration number on your drone.
If you are flying commercially, the weight of your drone does not matter, and you still must get a license.
The drone license requires you to be at least 16 years old and be literate in English, be physically and mentally able to fly a drone as well as pass a 60 question multiple-choice exam provided by the FAA. It’s a lot of work, isn’t it?
Rules for flying a drone for hobby uses
Is it a good idea to get a drone license for hobby flying?
It is not currently required by law that users of drones for recreational purposes get a license. However, the FAA is creating a test called The Recreational UAS Safety Test, which is due to release later this year.
What are the consequences of flying without a drone license?
You may think a one-off commercial flight is alright, but if you happen to get caught by the FAA, you’ll get fined $32,666 per time you offend. A large price to pay for some unlicensed shots!
Anyway, whether you fly your drone for fun or for money, it’s always a good idea to get a drone license.
Who knows, maybe one day you’ll run into a crazy job experience just because you have a knack for drones. If not, you must be very careful not to cross the line into commercial flying.
If you need to fly commercially and you are without a license, you can either fly under the supervision of someone with a license or hire someone with one to do the work for you.
Generally, the skies are safer when UAS operators have licenses. Think if you were out driving, and how unsafe you’d feel if you knew your fellow drivers didn’t have their licenses?
What qualifies as commercial drone use?
This part is simple: if you use your drone to gain direct compensation or to advance a business, you are using it commercially.
This covers everything from paid aerial photos at an event to even taking drone shots of your house to put online when you intend to sell it. Sometimes the commercial line can be confusing and thin.
Rent or subscribe to your next drone
Ready to get flying? On our website, we can help you rent or subscribe to a drone to get you up and flying in no time.
And if you want something to complement your drone footage, check out our article on must-have camera equipment.
About the instructor
Adam is a videographer, photographer, and drone flyer based, who works with both small and large businesses to help them achieve their goal and visualize the powerful stories they would like to tell.
Do You Need a License to Fly a Drone FAQ
Can I fly a drone without a license?
You can if you’re not flying it commercially. You’ll still have to register it with the FAA and obtain a registration number. It’s a good idea to get a license, though, just in case.
What size of a drone can you fly without a license?
When your drone weighs 0.55lbs or more, then you’ll need a drone license. If you’re flying for commercial purposes, size doesn’t matter, and you still need to get one.
Do you need a license to fly a drone for hobby?
Not by law, no. However, the FAA is currently developing the TRUST test that will come into effect later this year, which all drone users shall have to take.
Currently, you will have to register it with the FAA, but if your drone weighs under 0.55lbs, you don’t need a license.
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