The Drama with the FAA and their UAS/Drone Registration

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When I checked the FAA website for who has to register its drone, it didn’t say anything about foreign nationals. So I called the FAA. It took me a while to find the right number. Problem is already to get to the FAA website. You have to type the “www.” before Its government, a little bit outdated. NASA was finally able to put a redirect from to That’s how it normally works on the internet of today. Anyway, once you get to, go to the bottom and you will find a big box with the label “Register your UAS”

Click on that and on the next page you will see a button “Learn more“, click that button and you will see the criteria of who has to register a UAS.

The criteria are:

  • 13 years of age or older. (If the owner is less than 13 years of age, a person 13 years of age or older must register the small unmanned aircraft.)
  • A U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident.

FAA UAS Registration 02

Well since I am neither one of them, I called the FAA and the woman was from the beginning not in the best mood, when I asked her if I have to register my drone. She probably didn’t even understood the whole situation and what I tried to ask, but just answered right away, that I have to register. Then I asked why it doesn’t show up on the website.

She provided me with another page on the FAA website, the Registration FAQs. But the link to this FAQs is hidden at the very bottom of the above page.

Once you get there, Q11 will answer this question. Officially I don’t register my drone anymore, it’s now a recognition of ownership. But they still call it registration on the website and you have to use the same form.

FAA UAS Registration 03

Basically, anyone who wants to fly a UAS outdoors has to register, no matter if US citizen or foreigner. Looks like you don’t have to register if you are a foreigner and only fly it indoors (for example at competitions).


I guess the FAA wants to use foreigners to improve their revenue. Since they hide the information about foreigners have to register as well pretty good and there is another shocking thing. The fines are very high for flying without registration.

The FAA released an app, called B4UFLY, which will tell you where it is safe to fly (see this post).

I just got an iPad and tried to install the app and shockingly the app seems to be only available if you have a US Apple Account. If you have a foreign Apple account, you can’t install the app. The Android is already for a long time in beta-testing now.

The FAA makes it really hard for foreigners. First, you have to know, that you have to register your UAS as well and then you have to create a new Apple A count in the States just to download the app. Bad thing is, Apple doesn’t allow multiple accounts on one device like Google’s Android does.

We live in the Jet-age, but with all the limitless technology, we put more and more obstacles in between to make it harder.

Today I was finally able to register my drone and get my “Recognition of Ownership”. Because of this misleading information, I had to pay now $5 USD for the registration process. People who registered their UAS before January 20, 2016 got their $5 refunded. I don’t care about the $5, but I care about the bad handling of this situation by the FAA.

Succesful Registration
Successful Registration

Here are the official rules for recreational use:

  • I will fly below 400 feet
  • I will fly within visual line of sight
  • I will be aware of FAA airspace requirements:
  • I will not fly directly over people
  • I will not fly over stadiums and sports events
  • I will not fly near emergency response efforts such as fires
  • I will not fly near aircraft, especially near airports
  • I will not fly under the influence



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