North Dakota is known for its sprawling wilderness (the Theodore Roosevelt National Park is 70,000 amazing acres!) that many pilots are eager to explore with their drones.
Before you set out for adventure, what are the drone laws in this state?
North Dakota has federal and state drone laws but no local laws. Under federal law, drone pilots should always follow Part 107 rules. The state drone law bans agency drone pilots from using a UAV as a lethal weapon.
In today’s full guide to North Dakota’s drone laws, we’ll walk you through each pertinent law so you’re well-prepared ahead of your drone flight. Make sure you keep reading, as there’s lots of great info ahead!
Federal Drone Laws in North Dakota
In North Dakota, as is true in the other states throughout the United States, the US government institutes a series of federal drone laws. The laws apply to commercial, recreational, and agency drone pilots.
Here’s what you need to know.
Agency Drone Pilots
Government employees who use drones, including law enforcement and local fire departments, must have a Certificate of Authorization or COA or follow the Federal Aviation Administration’s Part 107 rules.
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Commercial Drone Pilots
As a commercial drone pilot, under North Dakota federal drone law, you too are expected to follow the FAA’s Part 107 drone rules when flying.
Under Part 107 rules, you should always carry a Remote Pilot Certificate. This is a commercial drone pilot license.
If you have yet to apply for your Remote Pilot Certificate, you can do so once you’re at least 16 years old.
The FAA requires applicants to be of sound physical and mental health as well as have full proficiency in the English language.
You’ll have to pass the Part 107 exam, which covers the concepts of the Part 107 rules and quizzes you on everything.
The test is extensive, and even though it includes all multiple-choice questions, the Part 107 exam is considered rather difficult.
Studying is your best bet if you hope to pass. Considering it costs money to take the exam, you want to pass the first time around if you can.
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You’ll have to score at least 70 percent on the Part 107 exam to earn your Remote Pilot Certificate.
Once the certificate is mailed to you, before you fly, you still need to register your drone with the FAA. This costs $5 to do, and your registration is good for the next three years.
Before your registration expires, your Remote Pilot Certificate will. This happens two years after the license is issued to you.
Renewing your Remote Pilot Certificate is easier than ever. You can take an online exam for free that tests you on the concepts of the Part 107 rules.
While the FAA requires you to earn 100 percent on the test, you can see your wrong answers as you take the exam. You can also go back and change the answers, so achieving a perfect score is not difficult.
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Recreational Drone Pilots
Hobbyists or recreational drone pilots are also subject to North Dakota federal drone law.
You too must follow Part 107 drone rules when operating your UAV.
You’ll also have to register your drone with the FAA, but only if it’s heavier than a toy drone. The weight requirement for registration is 0.55 pounds and up.
You’ll still have to pay $5 a drone, and the drone registration period lasts for three years.
Recreational drone pilots have to pass their own exam through the FAA to earn a TRUST certificate, which is required on your person when using your drone.
The exam is called The Recreational UAS Safety Test or TRUST test. This exam is free to take, and it’s all done online.
Like the commercial drone pilot renewal test, as you take the TRUST exam, all incorrect answers are displayed to you as you answer them. You also have the option to go back and correct your answers.
Your TRUST certificate doesn’t expire. Do keep in mind that if you misplace the license, you will have to take the TRUST exam again.
TRUST is a collaboration between the FAA and industry to provide TRUST and educational safety material to Recreational Flyers.
State Drone Laws in North Dakota
Next, let’s take a look at North Dakota’s state drone laws, of which there’s one called HB 1328.
HB 1328 // 2015
HB 1328 was passed in 2015 and focuses on unmanned aerial vehicle system regulation.
In Section 2. Limitations on use of unmanned aerial vehicle system., 1. HB 1328 states that law enforcement cannot use information from a drone “in a prosecution or proceeding within the state unless the information was obtained:
- Pursuant to the authority of a search warrant; or
- In accordance with exceptions to the warrant required.”
In the next part of Section 2, the law states that law enforcement cannot use footage captured on a drone as the basis of a search warrant “unless the information was obtained under the circumstances described in subdivision a or b of subsection 1 or was obtained through the monitoring of public lands or international borders.”
In Section 3. Warrant requirements., if law enforcement wants to obtain a warrant and may use a drone, then they must add the following information to their data collection statement:
“1. The persons that will have the power to authorize the use of the unmanned aerial vehicle;
2. The locations in which the unmanned aerial vehicle system will operate;
3. The maximum period for which the unmanned vehicle system will operate in each flight; and
4. Whether the unmanned aerial vehicle system will collect information or data about individuals or groups of individuals, and if so:
a. The circumstances under which the unmanned aerial vehicle system will be used; and
b. The specific kinds of information or data the unmanned aerial vehicle system will collect about individuals and how that information or data, as well as conclusions drawn from that information or data, will be used, disclosed, and otherwise handled, including:
(1) The period for which the information or data will be retained; and
(2) Whether the information or data will be destroyed, and if so, when and how the information or data will be destroyed.”
In Section 4, Exceptions., HB 1328 states that law enforcement can use drones for patrolling within 25 miles of a national border to prevent illegal activity, for “exigent circumstances,” during a weather-related or environmental catastrophe, or for educational, training, and research purposes, such as with a school.
In Section 5., Prohibited use., the law states that law enforcement cannot use a drone that has “any lethal weapons” or is being used for private surveillance of a private person or “surveillance of the lawful exercise of constitutional rights, unless the surveillance is otherwise allowed under this chapter.”
Does North Dakota Have Any Local Drone Laws?
What about local drone laws in North Dakota?
This is one of a handful of states across the country that has no local laws. This means the cities, towns, counties, and villages of North Dakota did not put forward any ordinances or policies about drone use.
Although North Dakota’s state drone laws only apply to agency drone pilots, remember that if you’re flying commercially or recreationally, you are still subject to the state’s federal drone laws.
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North Dakota Drone Law FAQs
None of the North Dakota drone laws touched on drone usage in a park, so allow us to clear up the rules in this section.
Can You Fly a Drone in a Public Park in North Dakota?
North Dakota is the home to a slew of public parks, although state parks are far more numerous in this state.
If you want to pass through a public park and fly your drone for an afternoon, are you allowed to do that in North Dakota?
According to North Dakota’s tourism website, drones are not permitted in national parks.
National parks are overseen by the federal government, so they’re not the same as state parks. Those are managed by the state government.
Thus, if a public park you were interested in visiting in North Dakota is a national park, you can’t fly your drone there.
For other public parks that allow drone usage, you’re expected to follow Part 107 rules at all times.
Can You Fly a Drone in a State Park in North Dakota?
As we mentioned before, North Dakota has no shortage of state parks, including Devils Lake State Park, Icelandic State Park, Beaver Lake State Park, Lake Sakakawea State Park, Lewis and Clark State Park, and Turtle River State Park.
While the policy on drone usage in national parks is clear, we were unable to find a similar policy enforced in North Dakota’s state parks.
You should contact a state park representative and ask about the drone rules before you assume you can fly freely.
Even if your drone is allowed, once again, remember to always fly according to Part 107 rules.
North Dakota has only federal and state drone laws, and the latter apply almost exclusively to agency or government drone pilots.
Even still, you’re barred from all national parks. For the many places in North Dakota in which you can fly your drone, following FAA rules is integral!
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North Dakota’s Tourism (link)