Recreational Drone Registration Starts Dec. 21 (today!)

Nearly all owners of remote-controlled aircraft across the country will have to register hundreds of thousands of drones with the Federal Aviation Administration starting today, December 21.

The owner – whether it’s a new purchase or a drone that’s been flying for years – will have to register a name, a physical address and an email address with the FAA. Existing owners will have to register by Feb. 19, 2016, and new buyers will have to register before their first flight.

The registry for drones weighing at least 9 ounces marks the latest balancing act for federal regulators who are trying to keep the skies safe as drones increasingly share airspace with passenger planes. Industry groups have estimated that hundreds of thousands have already been sold, with many more on the way as holiday gifts.

The registration site will be available at:

The registration will cost $5 for an unlimited number of aircraft and will be valid for three years. The credit-card transaction will help confirm the owner’s identity, and the fee will be refunded during the first month, to encourage people to register early.

Each aircraft must be marked with a unique number, although not necessarily the serial number. The goal is to help authorities track down an owner if a drone collides with another aircraft, flies too high or encroaches on an airport.

“It’s more for just accountability and actually even recovery of your craft,” said Shawn Barrera, assistant manager at Drones Plus in Bellevue. Barrera said he believes those who fly their drones into trouble, like last month when one struck Seattle’s Big Wheel, probably won’t go through the trouble of registering.

“We can hope that people are going to do the right thing and not mess it up for the rest of us,” said Barrera.