We’ve been anticipating it for a few weeks now, and the Federal Aviation Administration announced today that U.S. residents must register their drones (any UAV weighing over 0.55 pounds and less than 55 pounds), by February 19th, 2016. You will be required to pay a fee of $5 to do so.

Registration will open on December 21st, 2015 and will be retroactive. So those that currently own drones will still be required to register. If you purchase your drone after December 21st, you’ll need to abide by the February 21st deadline as well. As an incentive to register early, those that do so within the first 30 days – from December 21, 2015 to January 13, 2016 – will have their $5 fee reimbursed. You must be at least 13 years old to register.


Register here starting December 21st: http://www.faa.gov/uas/registration/

The registration will require your name, home address, and email. You will only need to register once, will receive one registration number for all of your drones and that registration will be valid for three years. After you complete the registration, you will receive a unique ID number, and the number must be marked on the your UAV(s). If you fail to register your aircraft, you could face a fine of up to $27,500 for civil penalties and up to $250,000 for criminal penalties.

This rule applies to hobbyist drone owners only. If you use drones for your business, you are prohibited unless you have a special exemption from the FAA. The FAA is working on releasing rules for professional drone use and is expected to complete that by mid-year next year.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx says, “Make no mistake: unmanned aircraft enthusiast are aviators, and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility. Registration gives us an opportunity to work with these users to operate their unmanned aircraft safely.

You can read the full ruling here and the press release here.

Mark it on your calendar and head over to http://www.faa.gov/uas/registration/ to register on December 21st.