According to the U.S. national aviation authority, the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), flying a drone is legal in the U.S., but we recommend being aware of and compliant with the drone regulations listed below before doing so.

Special Travel Considerations

If you’re traveling to the United States of America and want to bring your drone, the FAA lists these special considerations for foreigners who want to fly drones:

  • Whether you plan to fly for fun or for work, you must register your drone with the FAA using the FAADroneZone portal.
  • If you plan to fly for fun, you must follow the rules for recreational / hobbyist flying listed below.
  • If you plan to fly for work, you must obtain a certificate from the FAA and follow the rules for commercial flying listed below.
  • When traveling domestically in the U.S. with your drone, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) allows you to travel with your drone but you must bring it in carry on luggage only. You may not pack your drone in checked luggage. For information on traveling within the U.S. with a drone, see this page on the TSA website.

If you’d like to contact the FAA directly before you travel with any questions you might have, here is their contact information: UAShelp@faa.gov / +1 866 835-5322

flying a drone in U.S.A.

Why fly a drone in the U.S.? To get great aerial shots like these!

General Rules for Flying a Drone in the United States of America

Based on our research and interpretation of the laws, here are the most important rules to know for flying a drone in the U.S. To see the drone laws for each state in the United States, visit our master list of drone laws.

Recreational / Hobbyist Rules—Flying for Fun

  • You must fly for hobby or recreation ONLY (no side jobs or in-kind work allowed).
  • You must register your UAV with the FAA on the FAADroneZone website.
  • You must fly within visual line-of-sight.
  • You must follow community-based safety guidelines and fly within the programming of a nationwide community-based organization (CBO) like the AMA.
  • You must fly a drone under 55 lbs. unless certified by a community-based organization.
  • You must never fly near other aircraft.
  • You must notify the airport and air traffic control tower prior to flying within 5 miles of an airport.
  • You must never fly near emergency response efforts.

Commercial Rules—Flying for Work

  • You must hold a Remote Pilot Certificate issued by the FAA to fly commercially.
  • You must register your UAV with the FAA on the FAADroneZone website.
  • Your UAV must weigh less than 55 pounds, including payload, at takeoff.
  • You must fly in Class G airspace.*
  • You must keep your UAV within visual line-of-sight.*
  • You must fly at or below 400 feet.*
  • You must fly during daylight or civil twilight.*
  • You must fly at or under 100 mph.*
  • You must yield right of way to manned aircraft.*
  • You cannot fly directly over people.*
  • You cannot fly from a moving vehicle, unless in a sparsely populated area.*

*Excluding the weight requirement and the requirement to fly in Class G airspace, the above restrictions can be waived if you submit and receive a Part 107 waiver from the FAA.

The Class G airspace requirement can also be bypassed if you apply for and receive approval for special airspace authorization from the FAA.

For more information on drone laws in the U.S., see this page on the FAA’s website.

Know something we don’t about drone laws in the U.S.? Send us an email at support[at]uavcoach[dot]com. We are not international aviation attorneys and do our best to keep this page up-to-date for drone pilots, but the reality is that given the pace of the small unmanned aerial system (sUAS) industry and how governments are responding, drone regulations in the U.S. can change throughout the year, and those changes can be hard to track. If we missed something, please reach out to let us know.

Certification Requirements for Flying a Drone in the United States of America

To fly a drone for commercial purposes in the U.S. you must obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate from the FAA. Here are the requirements for obtaining a certificate:

  • You must be able to read, speak, write, and understand English (exceptions may be made if the person is unable to meet one of these requirements for a medical reason, such as hearing impairment).
  • You must be in a physical and mental condition to safely operate a small UAS.
  • You must be at least 16 years old.
  • You must pass an Aeronautical Knowledge Test—also known as the Part 107 test—at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center.
  • You must undergo Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) security screening.

For more information on how to obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate see this page on the FAA’s website, as well as our free guide to the FAA’s certification process.

If you’re looking for help preparing for the FAA’s Part 107 test, check out our online test prep course Drone Pilot Ground School. We’ve trained over 10,000 drone pilots, and over 99% of our students pass the test on the first try.

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