400ft max height
Don't fly over people
Don't interfere with aircraft
Only line of sight
All Drone Laws in US for 2020 (Complete Guide)
This is a guide for the United States drone laws for 2020 (updated every year) where you'll get a clue about what you can or shouldn't do while flying a quadcopter anywhere in this country.
I'll get very in depth with this article, but long story short, you can check the Recreational drone uses if you're a casual drone pilot.
Table of Contents
Can I fly a drone in the United States?
Absolutely. But if you want to have smooth operations, you have to familiarize yourself with the guidelines from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the primary agency responsible for regulating and implementing laws and licenses for drones.
Who to contact?
If you wish to get firsthand info from FAA itslef, you may reach them through UAShelp@faa.gov
What are the Drone Laws in US?
The scope of drone laws in US depends on your purpose of using it (recreational or commercial) and where you are flying it (controlled or uncontrolled space).
Recreational drone rules
For recreational purposes, the law requires all operators to pass a knowledge and safety test that is based on consolidated information gathered from manufacturers and stakeholders. The scope of this exam covers questions on:
- aeronautical safety; and
- FAA regulations and requirements on the operation of unmanned aircrafy system (UAS) in the national airspace system.
You should follow the guidelines on recreational flying, not doing so could cause you criminal and civil penalties.
How to get a controlled airspace permit
This can be done in 3 ways:
For more in-depth info about recreational flying of drones, you may read FAA’s Reauthorization Bill and the rules for Recreational Flyers and Modeler Community-Based Organizations.
Commercial drone rules
For commercial purposes, it will be a different set of rules you’ll gonna have to follow.
But the first thing you should take note is the weight of your drone.
- Below 250 grams
- no certification is needed
- e.g. DJI Spark 2
- Under 55 lbs and Over 250 grams
- Part 107 certification (to be discussed later)
- Over 55 lbs
- Authorization permit from Special Authority for Certain Unmanned Systems from the Secretary of Transportation
For owners of drones that are less than 55 lbs, the next thing you should secure is the Remote Pilot Certificate from the FAA. In order to obtain that, you should pass these following qualifications:
- Be able to read, speak, write, and understand English (with exceptions if the person has physical inabilities)
- Be physically and mentally fit to operate UAS
- Be at least 16 years old
- Pass the Aeronautical Knowledge Test–or the Part 107 test–at an FAA-accredited knowledge testing center
- Undergo Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) security screening
Once you secure the needed permits, then you can fly commercially. However, similar to recreational purposes, there are certain guidelines too.
- Register on FAA’s portal, DroneZone
- Fly only in Class G airspace
- Keep your UAS within visual line-of-sight
- Fly at or below 400 ft
- Fly only during daylight or twilight
- Fly at or under 100 mph
- Yield right of way to manned aircraft
- Do not fly directly over people
- Do not fly over a moving vehicle
Meanwhile, several states in the US have their own set of regulations too. It would help if you browse on them too.
Controlled and Uncontrolled Airspace explained
But before you decide which purpose are you using it for, you should know first if you are flying it in a controlled or uncontrolled airspace. Here are the guidelines you should from from FAA’s Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge.
What is Controlled Airspace?
Controlled airspace is the area surrounding airports where manned aircraft can fly. It is governed by restrictions to protect national security, that is why it is important to brush up on these classifications so you know what are the scopes you have to follow and when is it legal to fly.
What is uncontrolled airspace?
Uncontrolled airspace, on the other hand, is portion of the airspace that has not been designated as Class A, B, C, D, nor E. Although there are no air traffic controls (ATC) set to regulate air traffic, operators should be mindful of the visual flight rules (VFS) that apply to this class.
Class G is used to define the uncontrolled airspace. Its scope starts from the surface to the base of the Class E airspace.
But do not be tricked by the term “uncontrolled airspace” because it is not as simple as that. Certain areas in the Class G airspace still have limitations where activities must be regulated depending on their designation, or what is called as the special use airspace or special area of operation (SAO).
According to FAA’s Pilot Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge, these are the following SAOs that must be observed under Class G airspace:
Restricted Areas and Geofencing (drone flying map)
What are my top drones to fly safely in US?
My following two recommendations are 2 great compact drones that are quite silent and also small enough to travel with and not stand out as annoying.
1.Dji Mavic Mini - The best international travel drone (under 250g)
No follow me
2.Dji Mavic Air 2 - My favorite drone overall
Follow + obstacle avoidance
DJI lowered it's price since it was first released.
Frequently asked questions
At this price, every dollar counts in getting yourself a better or worse drone and the differences can be significant.
I'm going to cover the main features of basic camera drones, not FPV or otherwise niche quadcopters.
Can I fly a foreign drone in the US?
Yes. But like any other drones, you must secure a foreign aircraft permit from the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the FAA.
If your drone is registered in your home country, you must submit an application for permit at least 15 days prior to operating it.
- If in case, your country does not require drone registration, you may reach the DOT Foreign Air Carrier Licensing Division for application
- For Canadians and Mexicans, you are entitled to a foreign aircraft permit for Specialty Air Services (SAS) for certain agricultural or industrial operations for both manned and UAS drone operations, as granted by the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Under these regulations, Canadians and Mexicans don’t need to file applications for economic authority on their drone operations.
- For other nationalities, aside from Canadians and Mexicans, all US regulations for securing authorizations on drone operations still apply