Late last month, the Federal Aviation Administration vowed to release drone regulations that would take effect before the holidays.
Well, the FAA made good on its promise Monday, announcing a mandatory registration for all owners of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) or unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAVs). With a federal law going into effect Dec. 21, owners will have until Feb. 19, 2016, to register their drones or run the risk of being fined up to $250,000 or even spending three years behind bars.
"If you own a drone, you must register it with the Federal Aviation Administration's Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) registry," a notice posted onto the FAA's website reads. "A federal law effective December 21, 2015, requires unmanned aircraft registration, and you are subject to civil and criminal penalties if you do not register."
Added U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a statement sent to the media, as reported by Slash Gear: "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."
The registration database is open as of Monday, Dec. 21, inviting all owners to input their information. Anyone registering a UAS must be 13 or older; if the user is under 13, an older person must register it. If a user sells a registered drone, the FAA encourages them to first remove their registration number.
Under the impending federal law, any drone or UAV weighing between 0.55 pounds and 55 pounds must be registered, and that weight includes a camera or bracket it might be carrying, according to Slash Gear.
While UAV owners who have been flying before Dec. 21 will have to register with the FAA before Feb. 19, those purchasing a drone for the holidays, after Dec. 21, must register before making their first flight.
The actual registration process on the FAA's website will prompt owners for their name, address and email address. With that information, the FAA will then generate a unique identification number, which must be displayed on that particular drone or UAV. The pilot of the drone must also carry digital proof of the registration, which could be stored on a cell phone or even tablet.
Each owner's registration will remain in effect for three years. A $5 fee is charged, but registration is free for the first 30 days to encourage speedy registration. During the first 30 days, those registering must pay $5 with a credit card and a $5 credit will appear shortly afterward.
Do you think the FAA installing this federal law right before the holidays will go toward hindering holiday sales of drones?