Don't forget to register your new drone with the government

Lily camera drone in air

Lily / YouTube

Did you get a new drone for the holidays?

Don't forget to tell Uncle Sam.

As of last week, anyone with a drone weighing between 0.5 and 55 pounds must register it with the Federal Aviation Administration.
If you bought a drone before December 21, 2015 when the drone registration law went into effect, you have until February 19, 2016 to do it.

How do you register your drone?

Head over to the FAA's Unmanned Aircraft Systems page and follow the instructions there. It'll normally cost you $5 to register, but the FAA is waiving the fee until January 20, 2016. You must be 13 years old or older to register.

So, why is the FAA making you do this? The government thinks drones are a potential safety and privacy risk, so it wants to be able to track who owns each drone in case it needs to investigate an incident.

Here's the explanation from the FAA's FAQ page on drone registration:Registration helps us ensure safety - for you, others on the ground, and manned aircraft. UAS pose new security and privacy challenges and must be traceable in the event of an incident. It will also help enable the return of your UAS should it be lost.

There are some other FAA guidelines to follow while using your drone.

  • Fly below 400 feet altitude.
  • Keep your unmanned aircraft in sight at all times.
  • Never fly near manned aircraft, especially near airports.
  • Never fly over groups of people, stadiums or sporting events.
  • Never fly near emergency response efforts.

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