400ft max height
Under 100 MPH
Only line of sight
If you live in Florida and want to safely (and legally) fly your drone, there are laws and regulations that you must follow and that we’ll go into in this article.
That’s the obvious (and obligatory) question that we must answer before we move on. And I got good news for you, drones are allowed in Florida for recreational and commercial uses!
They’re however regulated by a myriad of laws and regulations. There are three types of drone laws in Florida which we’ll go over in this article.
Starting with the first and general type of laws; federal drone laws.
Federal laws are laws that apply to every state in the United States, including Florida, and were created by the federal government.
I have already done an in-depth article about the general drone laws in the US, which you can find here. But I’ll brush up on them in this section.
There are two types of drone flying: Recreational flying, which means any flying that you do as a hobby. And commercial flying, which according to the FAA is any flying that you’re compensated for (even shooting and selling stock images).
In order to fly recreationally, you’ll need to pass a simple test called the TRUST. It usually takes about 45 minutes and you can pass it for FREE from an official test administrator. Beware of anyone who tries to charge you for it. The FAA requires the test to be free.
If you want to pass the test, my personal recommendation are Uavcoach, they’re an FAA approved test administrator.
You’ll also need to register your drone, which will only cost you $5. Note that once you receive your registration number you have to write it on your drone.
In order to fly commercially, i.e receive money from your drone activities, you’ll have to study for and pass the 107 test. I have done a complete guide on that test here.
There are also other conditions that you must fulfill in order to be eligible to fly your drone commercially in Florida. You can check them in-depth in my US drone laws article.
Below are the federal drone laws in Florida that you’ll have to keep in mind:
This was a general view on the federal drone laws in Florida. I invite you to read up more on that in my US drone laws article, where I go over airspace classifications and various other things related to drone regulations.
In addition to federal drone laws, there are state laws that apply only to the state of Florida, and were created by its legislature.
Before we go in-depth here, we first have to define what a critical infrastructure facility (CIF) is.
A CIF, according to legislation, is any place or area that is enclosed by a fence or another form of physical barrier that is clearly meant to keep out intruders.
It may not even have a fence or physical barrier, if an area has a sign that forbids entry, put in a manner that grabs attention, it can be considered a CIF.
Examples of CIFs include:
Alright, back to the law. The Unmanned Aircraft Systems Act states that you must not intentionally operate your drone over a critical infrastructure facility. In fact, it is prohibited to even fly near them, let alone over them.
So definitely keep that in mind because breaking this rule can have some serious repercussions.
Florida also has a couple of laws pertaining to privacy and surveillance. For instance, a law enforcement agency has no right to gather information on you or to spy on you using a drone. At least on paper.
There are exceptions to that rule but they mostly have to do with high danger situations (terrorism and other homeland security threats).
Another privacy law in Florida states that you may not use a drone to capture an image of privately owned property or the owner, tenant, or occupant of such property without consent if a reasonable expectation of privacy exists.
You can read up more on this “Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act PROHIBITED USE OF DRONES” law here.
According to Florida’s law, you may not use a drone in managed lands. That means flying over forests and state parks is off the table, unless you get an authorization from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
This is made to prevent endangering wildlife and the forests in Florida. Getting a permit to fly/film in managed lands shouldn’t be too hard.
The reason I’m calling it “extra” is because it’s pretty obvious. But since this is meant to be an in-depth guide I’ll include it as well.
It’s strictly prohibited to fly a weaponized drone in Florida. Which is really just common sense…
These local drone laws are laws that only apply to certain cities or regions within the state of Florida. They’re created and enforced by the local authorities.
I’ve found 7 cities in Florida that have extra drone laws, in addition to a certain university which you’ll find below.
You can only fly your drone at Bonita’s community park when it’s unoccupied. This city also makes it illegal for drone pilots to fly within 25 feet of people, power lines, buildings, or light fixtures.
You can read up more on it here.
In Defuniak, you can’t fly your drone over private and public without the owner's consent. The owner, being the local authorities when it comes to public property.
You also must register your drone with the local police department before flying.
More on Defuniak’s drone laws here.
In Orlando, there is a restriction on flying drones within 500 feet of city-owned parks, schools, and venues such as the Amway Center and Harry P. Leu Gardens.
You’ll also have to steer clear by 500ft of gatherings and crowds. A permit is required to fly in the areas discussed above, which costs $20 per flight or $150 annually, and those caught in violation of this ordinance will have to pay fines between $200 and $400.
More on Orlando's drone regulations here.
You cannot fly your drone within a half-mile radius of sporting events or large-venue events. Examples would be Marlins Ballpark, Miami Marine Stadium, Calle Ocho Festival… or any other facilities with large crowds and gatherings.
More on Miami’s drone laws here.
You cannot take off from or land on any country-owned or managed lands. Unless in matters that concern public safety where permission has been obtained from the local authorities.
You can find Pinellas county’s code of ordinances here.
You cannot take off from or land on any country-owned or managed lands unless those lands are clearly stated as recreational and you’ve obtained permission from the local authorities.
(source: lake county’s code of ordinances)
The policy of the university of Tampa restricts any drone activity within of arbove any university-owned property. Any drone activity can only be done after getting permission, and even then you can only fly over Plant Park.
To learn more, check this official document from Tampa university.
You might be wondering what form repercussions are in place for those who break drone laws in florida.
Well, like automobile rules, nothing. Unless you’re caught…
Fines are up to the enforcement division, but the FAA rarely goes for the maximum. In the case of an accidental first-offense, the FAA tends to require a temporary suspension of their UAS Airman certificate and remedial training.
For the more egregious offenses, such as flying in an airport vicinity, expect slightly more serious repercussions. Should an illegally operated drone crash and injure someone, the operator will then face serious trouble and possibly jail time.
One thing to keep in mind though is drone registration, and marking your registration number on the outside of your drone!
If anything were to happen and your drone wasn’t labeled with your registration number, you could be fined up to $27,500! Compared to that, the $5 cost of registration is almost nothing.
Below is a guide on how to label your drone from the FAA.