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Are you gifting a hobby drone this holiday season?

Updated: Jan 24, 2019

Drones have become an increasingly popular holiday gift. And unlike the new tablet, scooter, or Xbox – it comes with certain requirements and considerations.


Federal law requires that all aircraft (which includes drones [also referred to as UAS—Unmanned Aircraft Systems] and radio/remote controlled aircraft) flown outdoors must be registered with the FAA and marked with a registration number. UAS weighing more than 0.55 pounds and less than 55 pounds may register online at or by using the legacy paper based registration process. The weight limit includes everything that is on board or otherwise attached to the aircraft at the time of takeoff. (e.g. cameras)

The difference between registering a UAS flown for fun vs. UAS flown for work or business: If you fly your UAS for hobby or recreational purposes and you use the web-based registration process to register your aircraft, you only need to register once and then apply your registration number to as many UAS as you want. Recreational registrants only need to provide their name, address, and email address. The $5 registration fee covers all recreational UAS owned by the registrant. In contrast, unmanned aircraft flown for work or business must be registered individually by the owner, and each registration costs $5. Registrants must supply their name, address, and email address, in addition to the make, model, and serial number (if available) for each UAS they want to fly.

Carrying the Certificate of Aircraft Registration with you while flying your UAS: You must have the FAA registration certificate in your possession when operating an unmanned aircraft. The certificate can be available either on paper or electronically. If another person operates your UAS, they must have the UAS registration certificate in their possession. You can give them a paper copy or email a copy to them.Federal law requires UAS operators to show the certificate of registration to any Federal, State, or local law enforcement officer if asked. You can show it electronically or show the printed certificate.


Property: Most homeowner, condo and renter policies cover a drone in the same way that they would cover your personal property or contents. Of course every insurance carrier and policy is different, so it’s wise to call your agent to make sure.

Liability: For the most part companies appear to be viewing personal use of drones as hobby aircraft and do not exclude it from liability coverage. But your coverage limits are an important consideration. With drone accidents and related law suits becoming more common, if you have a drone, you would be wise to consider carrying an umbrella policy to increase your coverage limits.


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