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Drone Laws in Washington (Everything You Need To Know in 2023)

Updated in 2023 by Paul Posea
drone laws in Washington
height flight limit 1

400ft Max Height

cant fly over crowds of people 1

Under 100 MPH

plane icon white 1 1

Avoid airports

line of sight law 1

Only line of sight

If you want to take drone shots like this one in Washington, you have to be familiar with the drone laws and regulations. Drone operation in Washington is broadly governed by the FAA, in this article we’ll look into the different laws regarding drone use.

Can I Fly a Drone in Washington?

I got good news for you, drones are allowed in Washington for recreational and commercial uses!

They’re however regulated by a myriad of laws and regulations. There are three types of drone laws in Washington which we’ll go over in this article.

Starting with the first and general type of laws; federal drone laws.

Federal Drone Laws in Washington

Federal laws are laws created by the federal government, and that apply to every US state, including Washington.

I have already done an in-depth article about the general drone laws in the US, which you can find here. But we’ll brush over them in this section.

There are two types of drone flying. Recreational and commercial:

Recreational Flying

Recreational flying is any flying that you don’t get paid for (hobby). All you have to do to fly your drone recreationally is pass the TRUST test.  

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 (my personal recommendation are Uavcoach, they’re an FAA approved test provider).

Commercial Flying

Commercial flying is any sort of flying that you’re compensated for, 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 various other conditions that you need to fulfill. You can check them here.

The General Federal Laws in Washington

Below are the federal drone laws in Washington that you’ll have to keep in mind:

  • Do not fly higher than 400ft
  • Do not fly in uncontrolled airspace without a permit (read up more on that here)
  • Always maintain visual line of sight
  • Never interfere with manned aircrafts
  • Do not fly over crowds of people
  • Your drone must be registered with the FAA on the FAADroneZone website.
  • Your maximum drone speed must not exceed 100mph
  • Your maximum drone weight must be lower than 55lbs, at takeoff.
  • You cannot fly from a moving vehicle.

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.

State Drone Laws in Washington

drone laws in washington

State laws are laws that were created by Washington’s legislators and that apply only to Washington. We’ll go over each one of them in this section.

According to the Washington Department of Transportation there are only three state-wide drone laws in Washington that I could find.

Flying in State Parks

According to this Washington law, you may fly your drone in state parks only if the director of said park gives you permission. He’ll also have to specify the exact location, altitude and duration of your drone flight.

You’ll be required to provide a copy of your permission to the park staff, so be sure to have it on you.

Written permission to fly your remote controlled aircraft in a state park is granted through a permit. Read these instructions on how to apply for a Remote Controlled Aircraft Permit.

Flying Over the Coast of Washington

You can’t fly your drone within much of the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, which extends along almost the entire northern coast of the state of Washington. 

These regulations are overseen by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). You can read up more on that here.

Flying Over State Capitol Campus 

According to this legislation, you can’t fly or land your drone within the boundaries of the state capitol campus.

Unless in certain situations which you can find here.

Local Drone Laws in Washington

These local drone laws are laws that only apply to certain cities or regions within the state of Washington. They’re created and enforced by the local authorities.

I’ve found 4 cities in Washington that have extra drone laws, they’re as follows:

City of Seattle

Unfortunately, you can’t operate a drone in city parks. There are no exceptions to this law. You also cannot film with your drone unless you have a permit for it, no matter where you fly. 

It’s a shame, since Seattle is home to breathtaking views. If you’d like to read up more on these two laws, check this official source.

Pierce County

The drone laws in Pierce County don’t really concern you if you’re a civilian, because they mainly place limitations on government agencies and their drone use. You can however read up more on them here.

City of Bellevue

You can’t fly your drone in Bellevue’s parks according to this law, except in  Marymoor Park Airfield and 60 Acres Park.

City of Snohomish 

Similar to Bellevue, you can’t operate drones in Snohomish’s parks and public spaces. No exceptions.

You can read up more on that here.

What Happens if You Break the Drone Laws in Washington?

Fines are up to the enforcement division, but the FAA will rarely go 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.

In conclusion, just make sure you keep the federal laws in mind as they are the most important. Have fun and fly safely, most of these laws are just common sense.

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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