Minnesota is a northern state beloved for its bountiful bodies of water and gorgeous wilderness.
Such destinations as the North Shore Scenic Drive, Voyageurs National Park, and the Split Rock Lighthouse State Park might be on your shortlist, but you want to bring your UAV.
What are the drone laws in Minnesota?
Minnesota welcomes drone pilots who obey federal, state, and local drone laws. You’re also expected to register your drone with other authorities outside of the FAA (such as the Minnesota Department of Transportation).
You’re also barred from most parks without a permit.
Ahead, we’ll break down the Minnesota drone laws federally, statewide, and locally so you know exactly what you can and cannot do.
Whether you live here or are just visiting, you’re not going to want to miss the information ahead!
Federal Drone Laws in Minnesota
The United States government institutes federal drone laws in Minnesota and the other states in the country.
These laws apply to government employees known as agency pilots, commercial drone pilots, and hobbyist UAV users.
Here are the laws for each respective group.
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Commercial Drone Pilots
We’ll begin with commercial drone pilots.
According to Minnesota federal drone law, you must always follow the Federal Aviation Administration or FAA’s Part 107 drone rules when flying.
You’re required to have your Remote Pilot Certificate on your person at all times when piloting a drone commercially.
As we’ll discuss later, further permits are often required as well, but the Remote Pilot Certificate is a must.
If you don’t yet have your Remote Pilot Certificate, then you must register to take the Part 107 exam.
The exam is a 60-question test that quizzes you on the full extent of your Part 107 knowledge.
You’ll have to pay to take the exam, and you’ll take it at a testing center nearest you on the FAA’s expansive list of approved testing centers.
Eligibility for first-time exam takers requires a full comprehension of the English language, including writing, speaking, and comprehending it.
You must also be at least 16 years old and deemed mentally and physically capable of operating a drone.
We highly recommend checking out this resource on our blog. It’s an overview of all the top online drone schools, many of which offer Part 107 exam prep.
You’ll feel readier than ever to ace the exam.
You’ll need to earn a score of at least 70 percent to get a passing grade. Soon thereafter, you’ll be issued your Remote Pilot Certificate.
The license is good for two years from the date it’s issued. Then you need to take the Part 107 exam again.
For each drone you own and use commercially, you must pay $5 to register it through the FAA. The registration expires in three years.
Agency Drone Pilots
Government employees such as fire or police departments that professionally utilize UAVs are agency drone pilots.
You, too, should obey Part 107 rules. You might also have to obtain a Certificate of Authorization or COA.
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Recreational Drone Pilots
Recreational or hobbyist drone pilots may only fly a drone for fun but are still subject to Part 107 rules per Minnesota’s federal drone laws.
If you own a UAV that weighs 0.55 pounds or over, then you will have to register it through the FAA, just as commercial drone pilots are required to do.
The registration fee is the same, $5, and the registration will expire in three years.
You’ll also have to take the FAA’s test for hobbyist drone pilots, which is known as The Recreational UAS Safety Test or TRUST test.
You can register to take the TRUST exam for free, and you can do it online rather than at an FAA testing center.
The test is a lot shorter, 25 questions versus 60 for the Part 107 exam.
Even better is that all answers are correctable while you take the test, so you can earn a score of 100 percent even if you don’t master all the test material.
The FAA wants you to grasp the Part 107 laws, which is why you can change your answers if you got them wrong.
You’re then issued the TRUST certificate, which lasts for life. Unless you happen to lose yours, so try not to do that.
TRUST is a collaboration between the FAA and industry to provide TRUST and educational safety material to Recreational Flyers.
State Drone Laws in Minnesota
Now that you’re privy to Minnesota’s federal drone laws, let’s next examine the applicable state drone laws.
SF 550 // 2017
The first of these is known as SF 550, which was passed in 2017.
That year, the state set aside $348,000 for at least one year to the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota to use drones “in natural resource monitoring of moose populations and changes in ecosystems.”
Minnesota Statute 360.59
Minnesota Statute 360.59 lists which aircraft are eligible for taxation and must be registered.
While not all small, unmanned aircraft systems require registration, for those that need it, you must also have proof of insurability.
Minnesota Statute 360.60
In Minnesota Statute 360.60, the rules state that drone users must register their UAVs with the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
You’d have to download and fill out the Aircraft Registration Application, which you can do here. The registration costs at least $100 a year.
MN DOT Aeronautics Rules Chapter 8800
In Chapter 8800 of Minnesota Administrative Rules, MN DOT requires commercial drone pilots to pay a licensing fee as part of obtaining their Remote Pilot Certificate.
The fee is $30.
Local Drone Laws in Minnesota
Finally, we have Minnesota’s local laws, which apply to cities, towns, counties, and villages across the state.
Ramsey County Parks – Park Ordinance
Ramsey County has enforced a park ordinance effective for all parks across the county.
According to Section O – Aviation, “It shall be unlawful for any person to use park property for a starting or landing field for aircraft, hot air balloons, parachutes, hang gliders or other flying apparatus without written authorization from the Director.”
Although drones are not mentioned specifically in that paragraph, since a UAV is technically a “flying apparatus,” the law would still apply to drones.
Thus, you’d need written permission to fly.
Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board // 2001
The Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board requires UAV pilots to have a permit when flying “from, within and on Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board property.”
Your permit grants you permission to use your drone in only select ways, including for media purposes (such as from an accredited professional press), commercial photography or filming, emergency services, public safety, bridge inspection, and/or construction documentation.
You can find the permit application to download and fill out here.
To send the application, you can fax it to 612-230-6504, mail it or drop it off physically at 2117 West River Road North in Minneapolis (the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board address), or email a PDF copy to email@example.com.
It can take up to 10 days to hear back on your application status.
Keep in mind that the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board makes it clear on its website that it does not have to approve all requests and that it reviews them on a “case-by-case basis.”
Even if you are permitted to use a drone, you still have to pay $100 per location and day.
You also need a Certificate of Insurance for $1,500,000 that’s general liability coverage.
City of Bloomington – Municipal Law
In Bloomington, the municipal law bans the use of drones in city parks. The only exception is having received a special permit.
Town of St. Bonifacius – Municipal Law // 2013
Since the Town of St. Bonifacius believes that “use of unmanned aerial vehicles…pose an unreasonable public safety concern,” their municipal law is quite strict.
According to §91.03 Prohibition., “No person, entity, governmental unit or law enforcement agency may operate a drone within the air space of the city.”
It’s uncommon for agency drone pilots to be prohibited as well, yet that’s just the case here.
Anoka County – Municipal Ordinance // 2018
In 2018, Anoka County passed its municipal ordinance on what’s acceptable and unacceptable in its parks.
Per Section 5 – Aviation, “It shall be unlawful to use park property for a starting or landing field for aircraft, hot air balloons, parachutes, hang gliders, unmanned aerial vehicle (drone), or other flying apparatus, unless otherwise authorized by Permit.”
Peltier has quite the experience, making him qualified to teach about photography and drones in separate courses. He was a part of the U.S. Air Force as an F-15E flight instructor for a decade.
Minnesota Drone Law FAQs
To wrap up, we have this useful FAQs section about Minnesota drone rules in parks. Before you head out, be sure to read this section too!
Can You Fly a Drone in a Public Park in Minnesota?
Minnesota is awash with public parks, but as the last section made clear, most of them are off-limits to drone pilots.
The only exception would be to have a permit that grants you permission to use your drone.
If you did get a permit, you should still always follow Part 107 rules when operating your drone.
What if you wanted to fly a drone in a public park outside of those cities, towns, and counties above?
You’ll recall as well that the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board prohibits drone pilots from using a UAV on any property they own unless you have a permit.
According to the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board, the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board owns 180 park properties. The full list of parks under their jurisdiction is here.
If you don’t see a park on this list and it’s not in the aforementioned cities, towns, or counties, then it’s likely safe for you to fly your drone there.
That being said, you should still confirm as much with the local parks and rec association.
Can You Fly a Drone in a State Park in Minnesota?
What about the majesty of Minnesota’s state parks? There are 75 in all, so that’s a lot of land to explore in this great state.
Yet the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website states that:
“The division discourages use of unmanned aircraft in state parks, state recreation areas, and state waysides because of the impracticality of their operation under existing rule.
…it is unlawful to land any aircraft on lands or water totally within the boundaries of any state park, state recreation area, or state wayside.”
That makes it quite clear that your UAV is not allowed in a state park in Minnesota either.
Minnesota is a state beloved for its wildlife, so it should come as no surprise that the state rules drone usage with an iron fist.
You’re largely barred from flying in parks, and with so many permits required, it can be hard to gain entry into cities and towns to fly as well.
If you do find a nook to fly your drone in Minnesota, do so safely!
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!
SF 550 (link)
Minnesota Statute 360.59 (link)
Minnesota Statute 360.60 (link)
8800 – MN Rules Chapter (link)
Ramsey County park ordinance (link)
Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board (link)
Town of St. Bonifacius municipal law (link)
Anoka County municipal ordinance (link)
Parks & Destinations – Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board (link)
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (link)