On Monday, December 14, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced a “user-friendly” online aircraft registration system for owners of drones (or more officially called “small unmanned aircrafts”) that weigh more than 0.55 pounds but less than 55 pounds. This registration is a statutory requirement that applies to all types of aircrafts. Anyone who has owned a drone prior to December 21, 2015, must register with the FAA no later than February 19, 2016, and all others who purchase or use a drone after December 21, 2015, must register before the drone’s first outdoor flight. The paper registration process still exists for those drone operators under 13 years old (to ensure compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act). Each person who registers their drone with the FAA will need to provide their name, home address and e-mail address. After registration is complete, the operator will receive a Certificate of Aircraft Registration/Proof of Ownership and the unique identification number provided must be marked on the drone. The registration is valid for three years, and costs $5 (the FAA is waiving the registration fee from December 21, 2015, to January 20, 2016, to encourage registration).

An FAA representative said, “Make no mistake: unmanned aircraft enthusiasts are aviators, and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility.” Have fun holiday shopping for drones, and visit the website for details.