December 14, 2015 

FAA Publishes Drone Registration Regulations  
On Monday, December 14, 2015, the Department of Transportation (DOT) published its anticipated new regulations regarding the registration of drones ("Small Unmanned Aerial Systems," which are defined as drones weighing up to 55 lbs., including any payload).
 
The rules apply to all drones, irrespective of whether they are flown commercially or solely as a hobby. While we are still reviewing the details of the new regulations, here are the most important facts:

  • Existing drones will have to be registered with the Federal Aviation Administration ("FAA") no later than February 19, 2016, using a new Web-based registration and tracking system.  Registration is scheduled to begin on December 21, 2015.
  • All drones purchased after December 21, 2015, will have to be registered before they can be flown. There will be a $5 fee for a three-year registration (which will have to be renewed), but the FAA has said that it is waiving the charge for the first 30 days of the new requirement.
  • The registration number, once issued, will have to remain securely affixed to the drone while it is being flown and must be easily visible. In addition people will be required to carry their FAA registration when operating the drone.
  • Drones may be registered by anyone age 13 or older.  The drone must be owned by a citizen or lawful resident of the United States. Companies doing business in the United States may also register drones in their names.
  • Each applicant for must provide at a minimum the following information:
    1. Applicant's name and, for an applicant other than an individual, the name of an authorized representative.
    2. Applicant's physical address and, for an applicant other than an individual, the physical address for the authorized representative. If the applicant or authorized representative does not receive mail at their physical address, a mailing address must also be provided.
    3. Applicant's e-mail address or, for applicants other than individuals, the e-mail address of the authorized representative.
    4. The drone manufacturer and model name.
    5. The drone' serial number, if available.
    6. Any other information required by the Administrator of the FAA.
  • Failure to comply with the registration requirement may subject violators to civil and criminal penalties. The FAA may impose civil penalties of up to $27,500 for failure to register. Criminal penalties of up to $250,000 and 3 years in prison are possible.  However, the FAA has indicated that it is determined to use outreach and education to encourage voluntary compliance. It appears, therefore, that enforcement is not anticipated for at least the immediate future, with educational efforts taking priority.
For more information please contact Thilo C. Agthe at 212-509-4714 or via email at thilo.agthe@wg-law.com .
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