Although neighboring states like New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania often win all the acclaim, Delaware is a fantastic east coast state in its own right. It’s the home of Delaware and Rehoboth Beaches, the stunning Nemours Estate, and Brandywine Creek State Park.
Bringing your drone to any of these locations would be an utter delight, but legally, can you?
Drones are welcome in Delaware but subject to federal, state, and local laws and regulations. You cannot fly your drone during large events or in state parks, and some beaches and boardwalks prohibit drone usage as well.
Today’s informative guide will discuss every drone law enforced in Delaware, so you’re not left surprised by anything.
Whether you live in Delaware and want to explore the lands with your drone or you’re only visiting, make sure you check this out!
Federal Drone Laws in Delaware
The most overarching set of drone rules is the federal laws mandated by the United States government. Every state has its own set of federal drone laws, and Delaware is no different.
Whether you’re a hobbyist drone pilot or someone who uses a UAV for a living, you’re not exempt either way.
Here are the federal laws to know.
Commercial Drone Pilots
The first group affected by Delaware’s federal drone laws is commercial drone pilots.
These are non-governmental employees who use their UAVs to make a living, such as real estate photographers or videographers, news photographers or videographers, and land surveyors.
Delaware federal law mandates that you always follow the Federal Aviation Administration or FAA’s drone usage rules when flying your drone commercially. These rules are known as the Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Regulations or Part 107 rules for short.
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Part 107 rules cover topics such as airspace authorizations, registration, hours of flight, flight locations, and conditions for flying.
Another requirement of the Part 107 rules is that commercial drone pilots must possess a Part 107 license or certificate.
If you’re applying for the license for the first time, you need to be 16 or over with the mental and physical capacity to fly a drone and a full comprehension of English.
Then you need to register at an FAA-approved testing center to take your Unmanned Aircraft General – Small (UAG) exam.
The FAA has a study guide that you’re free to peruse. We’ve also reviewed every online drone school with Part 107 exam prep that you can think of if you’re interested.
You need to score at least 70 percent on the exam. When you pass, you’re issued a license that’s good for the next two years.
To ensure you stay current on FAA’s drone laws, you’ll be required to take the Part 107 exam again after two years if you continue to use your drone commercially.
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Agency Drone Pilots
Delaware’s government fire department or police department employees also need to follow Part 107 rules when operating their drones.
More so, in this occupational role, you may be required to obtain a Certificate of Authorization or COA to fly your drone.
Recreational Drone Pilots
That brings us to recreational drone pilots, the third and final group subject to Delaware federal drone laws.
As a hobbyist, the laws aren’t as strict for you but aren’t completely lax either.
For instance, you still must stay current on Part 107 rules and follow them when operating your drone.
You’ll usually have to pay $5 to register your drone with the FAA unless the UAV weighs less than 0.55 pounds. That usually only applies to mini toy drones.
Finally, you’ll have to take your own FAA drone exam. Don’t worry, as this isn’t nearly as strenuous or difficult as the Part 107 exam.
It’s known as The Recreational UAS Safety Test or TRUST. It’s an online-based exam that’s free to take (the Part 107 exam isn’t).
You can also earn a 100 percent score because all incorrect responses are shown right away, and you’re then given the opportunity to choose the correct answer instead.
It’s more about learning and retaining information with the TRUST test, whereas the Part 107 exam is like a college final exam but with do-overs.
TRUST is a collaboration between the FAA and industry to provide TRUST and educational safety material to Recreational Flyers.
State Drone Laws in Delaware
Delaware also has drone laws on a state level, but just a couple of them, HB 195 and drone laws as established by Delaware State Parks, which is managed by the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.
Here is an overview of both laws.
Delaware State Parks
The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control on the Delaware State Parks website states that flying a UAV in a state park over any water or land requires you to have a special use permit.
You can obtain the permit by contacting the Division of Parks and Recreation through the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.
Obtaining a permit requires you to also have a flight plan, appropriate FAA documentation, drone insurance, and a license (so recreational drone pilots need not apply).
You must submit your documentation with at least 10 days of notice before you plan on using your drone in a Delaware state park.
Further, the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control will charge you an administrative permit fee of $75. You might also have to pay a supervision fee of $35 an hour. That’s only if the park staff deems that you need supervision when using your drone.
Even if you are granted a permit, you’re still expected to follow certain rules. You cannot fly your drone:
- In and around unprotected persons
- In parking lots
- Near any protected wildlife species, in active wildlife nesting or breeding areas, or harassing wildlife
- Nature Preserves
- Where the activity would not be appropriate within the overall character of a park.
- Within 100’ of vulnerable property.
- General recreational use is limited to areas designated by the Division for such purposes.
HB 195 // 2016
HB 195 is Delaware’s other state law pertaining to drones.
The law has been in effect since 2016 and prohibits drone users from operating their UAVs during an event that has over 5,000 people.
All kinds of events are included, from festivals to races, concerts, sporting events, community events, you name it.
This is for the safety of the general public. In a crowd that large, it’s awfully hard to maneuver your drone and not hit or bump into anyone, no matter how masterful you are at drone flight.
The other pertinent part of HB 196 is that your drone is prohibited from flying over or around critical infrastructure throughout the state.
HB 196 defines critical infrastructure as water treatment facilities, government buildings, military facilities, power plants, and gas and oil refineries.
Local Drone Laws in Delaware
On a local level, Delaware has enacted only one local drone law, and that’s for Bethany Beach. Let’s take a closer look.
Town of Bethany Beach – Municipal Law
According to Bethany Beach’s municipal law, in Section B., Operating regulations., drone use is limited in Bethany Beach “except for hobby, recreational or permitted commercial purposes only and in conformity with this section.”
Recreational drone users are fine, but commercial drone pilots will have to contact a Code Compliance Offer to obtain a permit. You need to provide information such as why you want to fly your drone, the location, and the date.
Permits are only good for 24 hours from when you receive them.
All drone pilots are expected to follow the laws in Section B (2) through (15). Per those rules, you cannot fly your drone in the following conditions:
- Directly over any person who is not involved in the operation of the small unmanned aircraft, without such person’s consent
- Over property that doesn’t belong to you unless you have permission from the property owner
- Higher than 400 feet over ground level
- Outside of your visual line of sight; The operator must use his or her own natural vision (including using eyeglasses or contact lenses) to maintain at all times an unobstructed view of the small unmanned aircraft
- From dusk through dawn
- In inclement weather that may get in the way of your ability to operate the small unmanned aircraft safely
- Over any outdoor assembly, place of worship, police station, public right-of-way, beach, boardwalk, boardwalk plaza, waterway, public thoroughfare or land zoned MORE within the corporate limits of the Town of Bethany Beach
- Within 25 feet of an overhead conveyor, cable, or wire as well as an electric distribution facility and within 50 feet of a water plant
- To do surveillance unless you have permission
- After consuming drugs or alcohol
- If your drone has a weapon of any sort attached to it, especially firearms
- To cause property or personal damage
- In a dangerous fashion
- In violation of state or federal law
Delaware Drone Law FAQs
To wrap up, here’s a handy FAQs section that will help you stay on the straight and narrow when flying your drone in Delaware.
Can You Fly a Drone in a Delaware Public Park?
As far as we could see, none of the federal, state or local laws expressly prohibit drone pilots from flying in a public park in Delaware.
That said, we always caution you to read the park’s website and see if there’s any statement on operating a UAV.
If there isn’t, then contact the parks and rec association and ask. It’s always better to take a few precautions too many than not enough!
Can You Fly a Drone in a State Park?
This rule is a lot more cut and dried. As mentioned above, the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control establishes the rules for flying a drone in Delaware state parks.
You cannot fly a drone in a Delaware state park unless you have a permit, and you probably can’t obtain a permit the same day you want to fly, as it’s a bit of an in-depth process.
Delaware is home to some truly gorgeous parks, beaches, and other stunning natural landmarks.
You can probably operate your drone there if it’s not a state park. The rules in this state aren’t overly strict.
That said, even if you find a beautiful stretch of land in Delaware that allows you to fly your drone, please always follow Part 107 rules so other drone pilots can continue to enjoy Delaware as well!
When you take the test, you’re protected under the Drone Pro Academy’s pass guarantee. If you fail your Part 107 test the first time, the academy will give you $160 to put towards retesting!