The Empire State is a place where dreams come true, and perhaps that includes your dream of becoming a commercial drone pilot.
New York has many inviting places to fly a drone for commercial projects, from Tanner Park in Copiague to LaTourette Park in Staten Island and Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens.
It all starts with you. How do you get a drone license here?
This is how you obtain a drone license in New York:
- Know the FAA’s eligibility criteria
- Sign up on IACRA for an FAA Tracking Number
- Set up your test date at a New York FAA Knowledge Testing Center
- Pass the commercial drone test
- Request your license via Form 8710-13
You’ve come to the right place if you’re eager to discover what it takes to become a New York commercial drone pilot. Take it from someone who knows and has been there.
I’ll walk you through all the steps and processes, from registration to study resources and more!
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 York
You’re ready for a life of flying your drone and making money doing it, right? That means obtaining a Remote Pilot Certificate in New York.
First, let me provide a bit of clarification. The commercial drone license requires you to pass an exam called the Unmanned Aircraft General – Small (UAG) test. It’s different from the TRUST license for hobbyists. While that also requires a test, it’s a beginner-level exam.
With your commercial certification, you can take your drone throughout New York (while following reuglations), fulfilling commercial duties and making some nice coin from flying. Perhaps you turn it into your new side hustle or even a full-time gig. The sky is the limit!
So, let’s get started with the process.
Know the FAA’s eligibility criteria
The FAA has one mission: safe skies for all under its jurisdiction. That explains why you have to meet certain requirements before you can register for your commercial drone license exam.
So, what are they? You must understand English up, down, and sideways. That means you should be able to read it, speak it, and write it.
Besides that, you also must be in good physical and mental shape to operate a drone. Additionally, the FAA requires that you’re at least 16 before you attempt to test for a license.
You can fly a drone before then, but with the supervision of a licensed pilot.
Sign up on IACRA for an FAA Tracking Number
Ready to move on? Awesome. Let’s talk about IACRA.
The Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application is an FAA resource designed to guide you through the process of becoming a commercial drone pilot.
You can find all the resources you’ll need throughout the registration and testing process on this website.
One of those is your FAA Tracking Number or FTN. You will be assigned this FAA identifier as a new drone pilot.
Before you can get to all that, you need an account.
Click here to visit the IACRA homepage. You should see a box to log in on the upper right. You don’t need that quite yet, but what’s beneath that: a link to register.
First, choose your role. As you scroll through this first page, you will see many potential roles to select from. Only pick those you qualify for, usually just applicant. Next, go over the terms of service, then click the agree button.
There’s only one page left, User Profile Information. Scroll past the Certificate Information section, as you don’t have any information to add yet. Stop at Personal Information and complete all the form fields there.
Select two security questions and type in your unique answers. Finally, choose a username and password for your IACRA account. Don’t forget to click the Register button to finalize the process.
IACRA will confirm your account credentials through email. When you log in, you will have an FTN. It’s a proud moment.
Set up your test date at a New York FAA Knowledge Testing Center
Of course, you won’t rest on your laurels for long, because there’s still more to do on the road to becoming a commercial drone pilot in New York.
You’re now ready to set up your testing date. The FAA only administers the Unmanned Aircraft General – Small (UAG) test at approved facilities called FAA Knowledge Testing Centers. You can find plenty across New York, from Manhattan to the boroughs.
The FAA has partnered with PSI to make registering for your exam an easy-peasy process. If you’re unfamiliar, PSI is a testing resource. You must make an account through their service to set up your test.
Visit this link to get started. Scroll down to the Create an Account button and click that. Note that, as of 2024, you must enable multi-factor authentication when creating an account on PSI. That requires you to download an authentication app with temporary one-time passwords.
After clicking the button to create an account, input your FAA Tracking Number and name. Click Continue to proceed.
When PSI verifies your identity, you can proceed with your registration. Create a username and password, retype your name, and add your email. Click Continue.
That will bring you to the email verification screen. PSI will send you an email with a verification link. Once you click that link, you can log in to PSI and use the full scope of its services.
Next, click Find a Test Center to search FAA Knowledge Testing Centers across New York. Type in your zip code and select United States as your country. PSI allows you to search by preferred distance, which I think is very handy.
Choose Unmanned Aircraft General – Small (UAG) as the exam from the dropdown, then click the blue Search button.
You will see a populated list of FAA Knowledge Testing Centers, including directions and more information on each. Choose one that works for you and register.
Taking the Part 107 exam isn’t free. In fact, it costs over $150 per attempt. Yes, that’s a bit of a shocker, but the price is worth it to have a commercial drone license.
Who wants to spend that fee more than once if they don’t have to? No one, of course. I don’t want you to have to do that either, which is why I want to underscore the value of studying for the Unmanned Aircraft General – Small (UAG) test.
You can study anywhere, anytime, from any resource, but that doesn’t mean you’ll get the best knowledge prep you need to pass.
That inspired us at Droneblog to put together a list of the best beginner drone courses. You can’t ask for better training resources than these, such as Pilot Institute and Drone Pilot Ground School. You’re learning from pros in the drone industry who have held commercial licenses for years.
They know everything about FAA drone laws, and they’re current on any changing regulations.
Now, I know that information can be kind of complex, which is why the courses are broken down into modules so it’s easy to follow along.
You’ll also have access to practice tests so you can see what you know and which areas of your knowledge need strengthening.
It’s no wonder more than 90 percent of aspiring drone pilots who enroll in these courses pass their FAA commercial exams the first time.
And if you don’t, by chance? These courses have refund policies where they will give you back the full cost of the course plus what you spent to take the FAA exam.
Pass the commercial drone test
Are you ready for the Unmanned Aircraft General – Small (UAG) exam? It’s ready for you.
On testing day, don’t forget to bring a valid photo ID. You can use your driver’s license.
You can also take a math calculator and measuring tools like a protractor into the testing room, but that’s about it.
Phones are not allowed, which shouldn’t come as a surprise.
The proctor will hand you testing materials when you check in. You have two and a half hours from that time to complete the exam. You’ll find 60 multiple-choice questions total with three answers to select from for each.
You can answer 18 questions incorrectly and still pass, as you only need a score of 70 percent.
You should know your stuff if you registered for one of the study resources above but remember to take your time and trust your gut. You’ve got this!
Request your license via Form 8710-13
You successfully passed the commercial drone test, no small feat! After giving yourself the hearty congratulations you deserve, don’t forget to formally request your license.
To do that, it’s time to log back into IACRA:
- Select Start New Application
- Choosing Remote Pilot under Application Type and Certifications
- Next, navigate to Other Path Information
- And finally, choose Start Application
The form has prompts throughout for easy completion. You should have your Knowledge Test Exam ID handy as you complete the form, but that’s about it.
After submission, the FAA and IACRA will process your request. It takes the FAA longer to mail your permanent Part 107 license than it does IACRA to send you a temporary, printable version through email.
You will have to pass a background check before you get your license.
I have my commercial drone license in New York – Now what?
Awesome work acquiring your Part 107 license. Having this certification is about to open a lot of doors for you, but not before you take care of a few tasks.
For instance, have you registered your drone yet? You have to before flying commercially.
You should also really consider an insurance policy for your drone. You can never be too careful when flying, especially as a beginner!
You should also beef up your knowledge of New York drone laws now that you’re a master of federal regulations.
Statewide, there’s the OPR-PCD-18 through the New York Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation that bans drones from New York state parks and historic sites without written permission.
The New York City Administrative Code §10-126(c) prohibits launching or landing in the city unless you have port authority or department of transportation permission or it’s an emergency. The New York City restriction also outlaws flying a drone here.
Oh, and Syracuse disallows drones.
Continue enjoying your commercial drone flights for the next two years. As you reach that milestone, it’s time to think about recertifying your license.
Ideally, you should do this before it expires, especially if flying drones is your full-time job.
Before 2021, you had to go through the process above every two years, which was stressful and expensive. These days, it’s a simple, efficient, and free five-step process.
Yes, you read that right. I said free! The renewal test is available online, so you only need to set aside a few hours to take care of it.