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Do You Need a License to Fly a Drone?

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Drone Flying

If you own a drone or are planning to buy one for entertainment or commercial purposes, you’ve come to the right place.

Flying a drone can be a significant benefit for those who rely on them to record video footage, take pictures, or survey an area for their business. In many cases, you can’t operate a drone legally unless you get a permit. However, this varies from country to country, and we’ll be discussing the US-based laws for the bulk of this read.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)1, you have to successfully pass an exam and earn a certificate called the Remote Pilot Certification, as cited in the FAA’s Small Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Rule, to fly any small aircraft. However, this only applies to pilots who use their drones for business. If you gain revenue in any way as a consequence of using the small aircraft, you need the license.

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Do I Need a Drone License for Personal Use?

Before we go any further, you should know that you do not need a drone license if it’s just a hobbyist. This means that you can use it for most purposes as long as there is no monetary gain. For example, let’s say that you want to buy a drone as a gift for a relative. This is completely fine because the user doesn’t intend to make money by flying the drone. Still, there is a fine line between what is considered recreational use and what is considered commercial use.

Many people think that this means content creators are allowed to freely use their drone footage on their social media, their YouTube channel, or other means. Remember, this is only allowed if there is no monetization involved. The FAA even prohibits monetization for media used in the future if you attain the certification later.

Image By: david henrichs, Unsplash

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Drone License?

There are a lot of options for anyone learning how to get a drone license, but the final aviation test will cost you around $175 for certification. Most people start by enrolling in a piloting course. There is plenty of certified training available online and can be done remotely. These are mainly prep courses that teach you how to pass the final FAA exam.

Do I Need a Drone License in Australia?

In Australia, the laws are similar to North American jurisdiction. Those who fly for entertainment only are not required to own certification for their aircraft, but commercial workers will need it for their work. The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) is Australia’s official legislation sector for small flight systems and has many of the same rules for flying.

Image Credit: Jason Blackeye, Unsplash

Do I Need a Drone License in the UK?

In the United Kingdom, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) states that drone pilots are subject to having an operator ID and flyer ID. Both forms of identification are physical cards that prove registration of the unmanned object and competency in flight. Those who fly without the appropriate verification are breaking the law and may be fined based on circumstance.

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Even if you don’t plan on making money from your piloting adventures, it’s still a good idea to join a program to learn the fundamentals of small aircraft to safely and effectively operate your device. Since drones can be upwards of thousands of dollars, this will save you the headache if you experience any mistakes or costly crashes.

Don’t let obtaining a drone license stress you out. Flying a drone is a blast and doesn’t have to be a legal nightmare. Just remember to check with your local laws to see if there are any limitations. Happy flying!

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Featured Image Credit: Ricardo Gomez Angel, Unsplash

About the Author Robert Sparks

Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.