Right on the cusp of New York City is Jersey City, a northeastern city in New Jersey that overlooks the Hudson River. This cityscape is your chance to take aerial photos and videos that have a NYC vibe without entering the prohibited city itself.
Are you allowed to fly a drone in Jersey City?
Drones are permitted in New Jersey as a whole, and since Jersey City has no laws prohibiting drone flights, you can fly there as well. You must always obey New Jersey state drone laws and federal laws when operating your UAV.
In this guide, we’ll go over all the relevant drone laws in New Jersey so you don’t end up overstepping your boundaries.
If this is your first time in the Garden State or just your first time flying a drone here, make sure you keep reading!
Can you fly a drone in Jersey City?
Jersey City is one of the most popular parts of New Jersey due to its proximity to New York City. You and many other drone pilots have dreamed about flying here.
The good news is you can!
In our article about New Jersey drone laws, we went over every local law in the state.
» MORE: Drone Laws in New Jersey
Many cities, towns, and counties have enacted their own local drone legislation in Jersey, including:
- Ramapo Indian Hills
- Bernards Township
- Chatham Township
- East Bay
- Franklin Lakes
- Passaic County
- Middlesex County
- Wayne Township
- Long Beach Township
- Essex County
It’s a long list for sure, but Jersey City is nowhere to be found on there. By the way, Jersey City is located in Hudson County, and there are no local drone laws for Hudson County either.
In the absence of local laws, it’s even more prudent to obey state and federal laws when flying a drone in Jersey City. Those laws do still apply when local laws don’t!
3 great reasons to fly a drone in Jersey City
Flying a drone in Jersey City is an exceptional idea for a variety of reasons. Let’s go over them now.
It’s like being in New York but without venturing into the city
If you’ve read our blog, then you’ll recall that New York City as a whole is off-limits to drone pilots. That includes such famed sights as Central Park and Times Square.
While you can fly in other parts of New York, it’s just not the same. You might have had a drone project you’re in the middle of that requires you to capture New York aerial footage, and you’re really crestfallen that you can’t get shots of the city.
Jersey City isn’t New York City, but it’s darn near close. Part of the city overlooks the Hudson River just like New York, and the city skyline looks so close to New York that to most people, they wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.
You don’t have to risk getting in legal trouble flying your drone too close to NYC when there’s always Jersey City instead.
You can see the NYC skyline from parts of Jersey City
If you’re insistent upon getting true-blue footage of New York City even when you can’t get into the city limits, there is another way. And no, we’re not telling you to break the law either (of course not!).
From certain vantage points of Jersey City, you can capture footage of the NYC skyline from a distance.
Liberty State Park is a great place to see Manhattan from across the Hudson. You can even spot Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty on a clear day.
Keep in mind that Liberty State Park, being a state park, does not permit drone pilots, so you’ll have to fly outside of the park to get the footage you need.
You’re legally allowed to be there!
Isn’t there just something so nice about knowing your drone is allowed to be somewhere?
Drones sort of get a bad rap sometimes, as the flying machine is perceived by many to be a nuisance.
That might not change just because you’re permitted to be there, but you can feel a little less unwanted when flying your drone in a legal place like Jersey City.
New Jersey drone laws to obey when flying in Jersey City
Going back to our point from before, you’re still required to obey all federal and state drone laws in New Jersey when operating your drone in and around Jersey City. Here’s an overview of those laws.
All pilots need a license or certificate
In the United States, federal drone laws and Federal Aviation Administration guidelines require all pilots to have the appropriate license before legally flying their drones.
For commercial pilots, that license is the Remote Pilot Certificate, an FAA-issued license that pilots only obtain after passing the rigorous Part 107 exam.
The Part 107 exam includes more than 50 multiple-choice questions on all the FAA rules and regulations. You need to answer at least 70 percent of the questions correctly to get your Remote Pilot Certificate.
Recreational pilots have a different license known as the TRUST certificate. This certificate is also issued by the FAA after successfully completing The Recreational UAS Safety Test, a shorter online test where all wrong answers can be corrected before submitting the test.
The TRUST certificate never expires but the Remote Pilot Certificate does. It’s valid for only two years after it’s issued to you.
The FAA now has a free recertification exam that commercial pilots can take online from the comfort of their own homes.
Passing that exam (which also displays wrong answers so you can go back and change them) will keep your Remote Pilot Certificate current for flying in Jersey City!
Commercial drone pilots always need to register their drones
You’ve got your Remote Pilot Certificate as a commercial pilot, but don’t forget your drone registration as well.
Whether you have one drone you use for commercial projects or a whole fleet, each drone must be registered with the FAA for $5 per drone. The registration lasts for three years per drone.
Recreational pilots must register drones over a certain weight
Hobbyists don’t always need to register their drone with the FAA, only if it weighs 0.55 pounds or more.
For any drone under 0.55 pounds, including most toy drones, you can forego registration.
The registration fee is the same, and your recreational drone registration is also good for three years.
Do not use your drone when under the influence
In New Jersey, state drone law SB 3370 prohibits pilots from operating a drone “while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, a narcotic, hallucinogenic, or habit-producing drug or with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or more by the weight of alcohol.”
Violating SB 3370 can lead to six months’ imprisonment, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.
Avoid endangering human or animal life or property
Another component of SB 3370 prevents drone pilots from using their UAVs to assist or take any wildlife.
You also cannot operate your drone in such a way that could lead to the destruction of someone else’s privacy or the endangerment of their life.
If you’re caught committing either of these crimes, the same punishments as above would apply.
Stay away from correctional facilities
SB 3370 prohibits drone pilots from risking “the safety or security of a correctional facility or operating a drone on the premises of or in close proximity to the facility.”
If you’re guilty of this crime, it’s considered a fourth-degree charge that can lead to a prison term of 18 months, a fine of $10,000, or both.
Do not fly in any state parks
The New Jersey State Park Service Policy through the State Park Service and the Division of Parks and Forestry makes it illegal to use a drone in a New Jersey state park unless you have permission from an Assistant Director.
We already talked about how that means you’ll have to stay out of Liberty State Park, but the rule applies to all other state parks as well.
Fly at an altitude of 400 feet
When flying your drone in Jersey City, you can do so at an altitude of no higher than 400 feet if you still want to legally fly.
Be sure to avoid buildings in proximity to one another, utility poles and power lines, and other obstacles when operating your drone in Jersey City to prevent a crash!
Keep your drone within your visual line of sight
Jersey City has a lot of sights and sounds that can captivate your attention, so make sure your drone is always in your visual line of sight when you’re operating it.
If you can no longer see your drone, then it’s too far away! Bring it back in.
Do not fly at night or in inclement weather
You also have to watch when you’re flying your drone in New Jersey. Do not operate the UAV before sunrise and after sunset; fly during daylight hours only.
In inclement weather, refrain from taking out your drone!
Jersey City is an incredible place to fly a drone because you can see fantastic views of New York City without venturing into state lines. (Besides, it’s illegal to fly in NYC anyway).
Just make sure you follow federal drone laws, New Jersey state drone laws, and FAA guidelines!