FAA UAS Frequently Asked Questions
On December 12, 2017, President Trump signed legislation that reversed the earlier court ruling in the John Taylor case and restored the FAA’s UAS registration requirement, including for AMA members.
AMA believes that registration makes sense at some level, but has pushed for a more reasonable threshold. While we address these issues, members will be legally required to comply with the FAA registration requirement.
Following are some frequently asked questions. Answers are based on the information available at time of press and are subject to change.
Q: The expiration date on my FAA registration certificate is quickly approaching, but I do not see a place to renew on the FAA’s website. How do I renew my registration?
A: As of December 12, 2017, the National Defense Authorization Act for 2018 restored the FAA's registration rule for model aircraft. If you are a model aircraft owner who registered prior to December 12, 2017 and did not request to have your registration information deleted, the FAA has extended the expiration date until December 12, 2020, which is 3 years from the rule restoration date. You can login to your account at www.faadronezone.faa.gov to print a certificate with the updated expiration date.
Q: If I already registered, do I have register again?
A: You will not have to register again since this bill simply reverses the John Taylor case. We will share more as details emerge.
Q: Do I need to register again if I requested a refund and asked to be removed from the registration list?
A: You will need to re-register only if you received FAA confirmation that your request to be removed the database was honored.
Q: I did not request a refund/removal from registration database, will my registration number and expiration date stay the same?
A: Your registration number will remain the same unless you requested that the FAA remove your information from the database, and received FAA confirmation of this removal. On December 12, 2017, the FAA extended all valid registrations through December 12, 2020.
Q: How do I register?
A: You can register at https://faadronezone.faa.gov. If you need assistance, please call 877 396 4636.
Q: Do I have to register every aircraft?
A: You only need to register your name, physical address, and email address once. You will receive a single FAA registration number which is to be placed inside all of your aircraft along with your AMA number.
Q: Do only drones and multirotor operators need to register?
A: Anyone who flies a model that can freely navigate in the air and uses a remote control device (e.g. RC transmitter) is required to register. This includes drones, traditional fixed wing model aircraft, model helicopters, and other remote controlled model aircraft. If you exclusively fly models under .55 pounds, indoors, control line, or free flight models - you do not need to register.
Q: Do I need to list both my AMA number and my federal registration number on my aircraft?
A: Yes, you need to list both your AMA number and Federal registration number on your aircraft. We are advocating to allow members to use their AMA numbers. We believe an AMA membership already meets the intent of registration, but at this time place both numbers on your aircraft.
Q: How does UAS registration affect my membership?
A: AMA club or member benefits are not contingent on UAS registration. We encourage all members to follow Federal regulations, but we are not policing UAS registration.
Q: Should clubs, contest directors, or event leaders require all pilots be registered?
A: No, we are not asking our clubs or contest directors to police UAS Registration. That decision is up to each individual club and event leader.
Q: Am I permitted to fly above 400 feet? What if I had to check a box saying otherwise on the federal registration website?
A: Yes. AMA members who abide by the AMA Safety Code, which permits flights above 400 feet under appropriate circumstances, and are protected by the Special Rule for Model Aircraft under the 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act. Checking the box on the federal registration webpage signifies an understanding of the 400 foot guideline. This is an important safety principle that all UAS operators need to be aware of, and is the same guideline established in AC 91-57 published in 1981. However, the placement of this guideline on the FAA website is intended as an educational piece and more specifically intended for those operating outside of AMA’s safety program. You can read a letter from the FAA that recognizes our community-based safety program and flight over 400 feet by clicking here.
Q: I am an Affiliate Member, do not live in the US, or I am not a US Citizen. How do I register?
A:Everyone, including foreign nationals and tourists, who operate a UAS for hobby or recreational purposes outdoors in the U.S. must use the FAA’s online registration system. These non-U.S. citizens or non-permanent U.S. residents will receive the same registration certificate as U.S. Citizens or permanent U.S. residents. However, this certificate will function as a “recognition of ownership” document. This document is required by the Department of Transportation for foreign nationals to operate legally in the US.
Visiting pilots can only use a computer with a United States IP address to register. When arriving in the states, pilots can register using a US computer at a hotel, guest home, or even at AMA HQ. For assistance you can call 877 396 4636 or email FAAHotline@faa.gov.
Q: I only fly CL, FF, or indoors - do I need to register?
A: No. If you exclusively fly indoors, FF, or CL you do not need to register.
Q: Can I fly my large model aircraft? Turbine jets?
A: Yes. The Special Rule for Model Aircraft, which is part of the 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act, allows AMA members to operate model aircraft over 55 lbs as long as they are operating in accordance with AMA’s Large Model Aircraft safety program. AMA members can also fly turbine jets provided the operator holds a current AMA Turbine Waiver.
Q: Does my large model aircraft require an N number?
A: AMA representatives, including AMA’s legal counsel, met with the FAA on January 15, 2016, and this was one of the many questions that were raised. The FAA representatives confirmed that AMA members, operating models under the Large Model Airplane Program, should not have to apply for an N number.
Q: Am I permitted to fly first person view (FPV)? Can I fly at night?
A: Yes. As long as AMA members continue to follow AMA's safety guidelines for these activities, they can continue to fly. The guidelines listed on the FAA UAS website do not negate the modeling activities and related safety procedures established in AMA's community-based safety program.
Q: What happens if I don’t register?
A: According to the FAA, failure to register an unmanned aircraft may result in regulatory and criminal sanctions.
Q: Can I register by paper?
A: We understand there are AMA members who do not have a computer. The FAA offers a paper application, which currently is only available at local FAA Flight Standards District Offices (FSDO), but this process can take many months. If a member does not have a computer, we encourage them to have a club or family member help them register.
Q: I do not want to give my credit card information over the internet or have a computer? What should I do?
A: As for members who cannot or do not want to submit credit card information online, the FAA has agreed to accept gift credit cards such as Visa or MasterCard. You can purchase these gift cards, which closely resemble a credit card, through many retailers.
Q: Is my registration information publicly available?
A: No. At this time, the registration database is not searchable.