The FAA’s drone registration web portal just opened, and we’ve gone through the steps to get ourselves on the list to see how the process works.
As promised by the FAA task force after a surprisingly fast rule-creation period, the entire procedure takes about five minutes from start to finish. And, as mentioned in the week leading up to the launch of the portal, it costs $5 to get your registration number, which needs to be displayed on every flying apparatus that you own and operate weighing between 0.55 and 55 pounds — it’s a one-time registration for the pilot, not for each individual aircraft. This fee is waived for anyone that signs up in the first 30 days; however, you are required to pay the fee in this period, and then a refund will be applied.
All rigs are to be registered by February 19th to avoid incurring penalties, which can be severe. The registration lasts three years, and then needs to be renewed.
Not clear from the procedure is how public the registration information will be — Forbes reports that the names and addresses of the registered pilots will be made public; credit card information makes this slightly more sensitive. With this and other questions, the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) — a large community that predates the FAA — has asked its members to hold off on registering their aircraft.
We’ll be watching for further developments. Meanwhile, here are screenshots of the registration process, which is surprisingly smooth for a just-launched site.