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Drone Laws in North Dakota: All You Need To Know (2023)

Updated in 2023 by Paul Posea
North Dakota

When it comes to flying drones, there are many rules to follow. It may seem easy to launch a drone and fly around without any restrictions. However, with technological advancement comes rules to suit the changing times. If you wish to fly a drone in North Dakota, you must keep yourself up-to-date with the current laws.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is a US agency that broadly governs drone operations in the entire country including the state of North Dakota. Additionally, there are state drone laws that only apply to North Dakota. While other states have local drone regulations specific to certain cities, the state of North Dakota currently has no local state laws governing certain areas.

Federal Laws Governing Drone Operations in North Dakota

These laws fall under the authority of the FAA and the US government. They govern drone operations for recreation, commercial, and government use.

Recreational Drone Laws

Just as mobile phones and the internet were initially restricted to military communication, drones also began the same way. Currently, drones are a common recreational tool among hobbyists. They are sold in toy shops and come with cameras, making them suitable for recreation. However, before flying a drone for recreational purposes, there are rules to comply with.

  • It is mandatory to register your drone with the FAA and attach the registration number to the aircraft. 
  • You must take and pass The Recreational UAS Safety Test and provide proof upon request.
  • Your drone must not exceed 55 lbs unless you have approval from a Community Based Organisation (CBO).
  • You must keep your drone within sight or get help from a visual observer who is in direct communication with you.
  • Ensure you do not obstruct manned aircraft and law enforcement activities.
  • You should not interfere with emergency responses. 
  • Do not exceed an altitude of 400 feet.
  • You should not operate a drone while under the influence of alcohol and drugs

Commercial Drone Laws

With commercial drone operations, users make money from them. These include:

  • Promotional videos for businesses.
  • Production of aerial photos and videos for company and individual events.
  • Accessing sites for inspection companies.

Below are rules to follow to successfully carry out a commercial drone operation:

You must have a Remote Pilot Certificate issued by the FAA. To obtain this certificate:

  • You must speak and understand English, written and spoken. There are exceptions to this rule for those unable to meet this requirement for medical purposes.
  • You must be physically and mentally fit to operate a drone.
  • You must be aged 16 and above.
  • You must take and pass the Part 107 test from an FAA-approved testing center.
  • You must undergo security screening under the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA)
  • You must register with the FAA. Registration costs $5 and is every three years.
  • Your drone must have a registration number for ease of identification.
  • Your drone should weigh 55 pounds and below.
  • You should fly within a visual line of sight.
  • Only fly at 100mph or less.
  • Do not fly above 400 feet.
  • You must pave the way for manned aircraft.
  • You shouldn't fly a drone from a moving car, unless in a less populated region.

Government Operations Drone Laws

To conduct drone operations for the government, one must either comply with the FAA Part 107 regulations or obtain a Federal Certificate of Authorization (FCO) from the FAA.

The FAA Part 107 rules are as follows:

  • All drones must be registered and affixed with unique registration numbers through online or paper form registration.
  • Registration is done by individual drone owners as they're expected to fill in their names, addresses, and the models and serial numbers of every drone they intend to fly. After the registration, you can use the registration number for all the drones you want to fly.
  • Federal law expects drone operators to present their registration certificates to any enforcement officer, either local or state, upon request. There's the option of presenting the certificate electronically if you don't have the printed one.
  • All drone operators must obtain a remote pilot certificate by passing the aeronautical knowledge and safety test.
  • All drone operators must restrict operations within class G airspace unless issued with a permit that doesn't restrict them to this rule.
  • To avoid accidents, it is illegal to fly drones at night. However, to fly at night, you must apply for a permit and have a good lighting system in place.

North Dakota State Laws Governing Drone Operations

These laws apply to the entire state of North Dakota and are under the legislature and the Department of Transportation. There's only one state law governing drone operations, the HB 1328 // 2015.

This law prohibits the use of drones for private surveillance of private persons and property without the owners' consent. Doing so is a trespass and a breach of privacy. Whether flying drones for recreational or commercial use, you shouldn't fly over people, vehicles, and trains. The law restricts flying drones over national parks within the state of North Dakota. Additionally, it also restricts drone operators from loading these unmanned aircraft with lethal weapons. There are exceptions to this law for the following instances.

  1. Patrolling of national borders- The state of North Dakota permits the use of drones to patrol national borders within 40.23 kilometers to prevent the entry of illegal substances and prohibited individuals.
  2. Pressing circumstances- A pressing circumstance exists when there's enough proof that an imminent danger to lives will occur if combative measures are not taken. 
  3. Natural catastrophes: In cases of environmental and extreme weather calamities such as floods and tornadoes, the law allows the use of drones to survey damages to help determine if there should be a state emergency. Through this, the government ensures property and public safety.
  4. Research and development purposes: Institutions of higher learning, public and private entities come together to undertake research and testing that may require aerial viewing.

Drone Usage at the State Capitol of North Dakota

People may wish to take videos and photos of the State Capitol using drones. The state government uses the Capitol for its vast functions and drone operations within the area cause interference and pose threats to public safety. According to the FAA, drone operations aren't allowed within 5 miles of any airport. The Capitol Complex is within 5 miles from Bismarck Municipal. It is therefore prohibited to fly a drone inside the Capitol Complex.

However, drone operators wishing to fly within the State Capitol may seek permission from the Facility Management by filling a Capitol Use Request Form in advance. This form includes details of the drone owner's contacts, the details of the drone, the date, time, and the length of the operation. The form must be submitted 15 days earlier than the date of the flight. The Facility Management will then provide a written response to the applicant.

There are no regulations against flying drones indoors in North Dakota. The FAA only governs drone operations within the National Airspace System (NAS). The owners of a building determine if drones should fly within their premises or not. However, according to the Pilot Institute, it's not safe to fly drones indoors. As a drone owner, it's necessary to carry out research to avoid flying in spaces restricted by the government.

Hi, I'm Paul.
A big drone enthusiast, reviewing, comparing and writing about drones since 2015. I'm all about helping people enjoy and even monetize their hobby.

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paul posea
Paul Posea
Hi, I'm a long-time drone reviewer and I hope my articles and comparisons on this site as well as Dronesgator's youtube channel are of as much help as possible.
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