New Mexico promises varied sights across its borders, from white sands to mountainous regions.
It’s the home of the Great Plains, the Rocky Mountains, and the Colorado Plateau. Flying a drone here is a real treat, but before you begin, you need a license.
How do you obtain one?
Here’s how to get a drone license in New Mexico:
- Meet FAA eligibility terms
- Sign up for an FAA Tracking Number
- Register at a New Mexico FAA Knowledge Testing Center
- Study for the exam
- Pass the test
- Submit Form 8710-13
Does it sound easy on the surface? Sure, but once you get into the nitty-gritty, you can get bogged down and confused by all the rules and registrations required to get a commercial drone license.
That’s why I’m here. I’ve been through this process and understand the ins and outs of what’s required. I’ll explain everything you need to know so you can get your hands on a Remote Pilot Certificate!
To help, we’ve identified and reviewed the best drone courses for beginners and professionals.
Here’s how to obtain a drone license in New Mexico
In New Mexico, as in every other state across the country, there are two drone licenses to choose from. One is a TRUST certificate, required if you only plan to use your drone for fun.
The other is the Remote Pilot Certificate, aka a Part 107 license.
This is the commercial drone license most new pilots go for, and why not? You have expanded flight freedoms with this cert.
Better yet, you can bring in that moolah with a commercial license (it’s illegal with a hobbyist certificate).
So, are you ready to go after your commercial drone license in New Mexico? Here’s how it’s done.
Meet FAA eligibility terms
The FAA, which regulates drone flights across the US, insists that new pilots testing for a Part 107 certificate pass a few basic requirements.
First, you must be 16 or older. You also need full English comprehension and physical and mental proficiency to use a drone.
If you check all those boxes, you’re well on your way to taking the Unmanned Aircraft General – Small (UAG) exam.
Sign up for an FAA Tracking Number
Since you’re a new drone pilot, you need an FAA Tracking Number to proceed. If you’ve ever been affiliated with the FAA in any other capacity, you should already have an FTN.
I’ll focus on those new to the FAA who need an FTN, as I’m willing to bet that’s you, humble reader.
If so, bookmark the Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (IACRA) website here. You’re going to need it for quite a lot as you navigate this process.
So, what is IACRA anyway? It’s an FAA site you need when applying for a commercial drone license. It’s free to use and easy to make an account, so let’s get to it!
After clicking the link above, follow these handy steps.
First, select the Register option on the upper right of the webpage beside the Login button. Next, check the roles associated with your new account registration. Most new drone pilots entering the FAA’s system only select Applicant.
However, I recommend you carefully read all the roles and choose any that match your description. When you’re ready, read over IACRA’s terms of service, then click the button to consent.
Now, the next part can be confusing, because IACRA asks for your drone certificate info, which you don’t yet have. Fortunately, you can skip this section and still register.
Input all personal information requested, then answer two security questions. After that, you can create a username and password unique to your IACRA account. Click Register, and you’re all finished!
Well, almost. IACRA will send a confirmation email to the address you used to register your account. Once you get an email from IACRA, you can log in and check for your FTN.
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Register at a New Mexico FAA Knowledge Testing Center
Okay, you’ve got your FTN, so you’re already rocking and rolling. Good news – you’re ready to officially register to take the Unmanned Aircraft General – Small (UAG) test.
How do you do that, you ask? You need to find an FAA Knowledge Testing Center nearest you.
An FAA Knowledge Testing Center is an in-person building that administers the Part 107 exam. You still can’t take this test online, and I don’t foresee the FAA changing that policy anytime soon.
You’ll need a PSI account for this part of the process. PSI is a testing resource that doles out the commercial drone exam.
You can access the PSI website via this link. After you click it, select Create an Account. PSI requires you to verify your identity, including sharing your FTN, so have that handy. Click Continue when you’re ready to proceed.
When PSI confirms that you are who you say you are, you can continue with your user registration. Create a new username and password, input your full name and email address, and choose a preferred language (if you wish).
Next, click Continue. PSI will email you to verify your new account. Click the link in the verification email, then log into your account.
Navigate to Find a Test Center to begin searching for FAA Knowledge Testing Centers throughout New Mexico. You can narrow or expand the distance as needed and search specific cities and towns by postal code.
Make sure you select United States for the country and Unmanned Aircraft General – Small (UAG) for the exam type.
After you find a Knowledge Testing Center in your neck of the woods, you can register a date and time to take the commercial drone exam.
Study for the exam
Preparation is key for passing the Part 107 exam. This is a long, detailed, and thorough test that will require full comprehension of FAA drone laws. You need to eat, sleep, and breathe these regulations.
Fortunately, you should have some time between registering for the exam and taking it, so you can use it to study.
I can’t recommend this enough, as reviewing laws and testing materials is the best way to prepare for the upcoming test.
I’ve got you covered. We at Droneblog have scoured the internet to find the best test prep resources for beginners about to embark on their Part 107 journeys. You don’t have to do any extra homework, as we took care of it for you.
These and other resources have beginner-friendly Part 107 drone courses designed to help you pass the first time you take the test.
You’ll have access to world-class instruction from real FAA drone pilots and practice quizzes to help you cement what you learned.
Pass the test
And just like that, testing day has arrived. Here is some information to help you on this fateful day:
- The Part 107 exam costs $175 per attempt (yes, I know – ouch!)
- You will be asked to answer 60 multiple-choice questions on the exam.
- You have two and a half hours to complete all questions on the Unmanned Aircraft General – Small (UAG) test.
- You must score 70 percent to pass and obtain your commercial drone license.
- If you don’t pass, you can take the test two weeks after your first attempt.
- You can opt into as many retakes as needed.
- You must have a government-issued form of photo ID handy to take the test.
- Protractors are allowed but not provided.
Give yourself ample time to reach the Knowledge Testing Center, as who wants to stress about being late on an important day like this?
When you arrive and check in, you’ll receive everything you need for the exam, including scrap paper, the testing booklet, and a dry-erase marker.
Take your time. I know two and a half hours doesn’t seem like a lot of time to answer 60 questions, but I promise you, it is.
You don’t have to rush, and you might even have time to check your work if you go at a moderate pace.
Submit Form 8710-13
While I wish you got instant answers regarding whether you passed the Part 107 test, that’s not exactly how it works.
IACRA will have your results when they’re ready, but it can sometimes take a few weeks. Yeah, I know, you don’t want to wait that long, but you have no choice.
Once you’ve passed the Unmanned Aircraft General – Small (UAG) exam, you have to do one more thing before you’re ready to fly. You must officially request your drone license.
How do you do that? Through FAA Form 8710-13.
You can find the form on IACRA’s website. Select Start New Application, then choose Pilot before clicking Other Path Information and Start Application.
This is one of the more straightforward parts of the entire process, as Form 8710-13 has simple prompts that guide you through its completion. Once you send in the form, prepare for a lot of processing.
The FAA will begin processing your request, which will take the longest. IACRA will process your request as well, including a TSA-approved background check.
When you get through that, IACRA will email you with a temporary version of your license. FAA will send a permanent copy through the mail when it’s ready.
I have my commercial drone license in New Mexico – Now what?
Could you start flying your drone in New Mexico today? Not exactly.
First, you have to register this and every other drone in your commercial fleet with the FAA. The registration terms are for three years, but you must register any new drones you buy between now and then.
I would also recommend picking up drone insurance. I know, it’s an additional expense, but you would be surprised how many mistakes you make as a newbie. Don’t let a few near-misses happen.
Get insured so you’re safeguarded if you damage property or hurt someone with your drone.
Check out New Mexico’s drone laws so you’re not caught off-guard when flying. SB 556 is a state law in association with the Freedom From Unwarranted Surveillance Act.
Under this law, you can’t surveil someone with your drone unless you have permission. If you violate the law, you could face six months of jail time and/or $500 fines.
In two years, your drone license will expire. The FAA does this to keep your knowledge accurate and current.
While you still can’t take the commercial drone exam online, you can renew your drone via a quick, free online test.
It certainly beats spending $175 to take the Part 107 exam every two years, which is what pilots had to do before 2021!
Check out our handy writeup on all the steps required to ace this free recertification exam so you can fly without gaps in your licensure.