How to Mark Your Drone with Your Registration Number
The FAA requires only that a drone be marked with its registration number in a spot that is readily visible upon visual inspection. This should ideally be on the main body of the drone – either on the propeller arms or at the top or side of the main drone hull. The mark must be maintained in a readable condition.
Nowadays, you can’t just buy a drone off the shelf and fly it out of the box. As drones have become recognized as vital parts of national airspace, there are now several precautionary measures you need to take when flying a brand-new drone. One of these is registering the drone and marking it with its registration number. Read our guide below on how this should be done.
Guidelines on marking your drone
The latest guidance on how to properly label your drone was released back in 2019. The biggest change made with this announcement is that the FAA now requires that drones be labeled in a manner that makes the registration number easily visible upon visual inspection. Before this, it was a lot more common to see registration numbers hidden inside battery compartments.
The change was made so that emergency responders can identify drones, should one be involved in an emergency, without having to touch it. Since this is ultimately for the welfare of emergency responders, we highly encourage making registration numbers as visible as possible.
The best place to mark your drone would probably be at the center and top of the main drone hull. This is very visible and would probably be the first place that anybody doing an inspection would look. If you want it a bit more subtle, then the side of the hull or the propeller arms can also work. Do not place the mark in a part of the drone that can be removed or can come off in a crash.
Make sure to make the mark readable enough from around five feet away – this is not an FAA requirement but is just our recommendation. It just aligns with the essence of making the registration number easily visible upon visual inspection.
The FAA had already previously identified three acceptable methods for marking your drone:
- Using permanent markers
- Using stickers
Any of the three methods could be considered permanent enough for practical use. In terms of visibility, using a sticker with dark text over a light background would probably be the best option. Make sure to protect a paper sticker with some clear tape or use a waterproof sticker. It also helps if you can use a sticker that is UV-resistant.
The FAA only requires that any marks be kept in a readable state. Just keep this in mind for when the sticker starts to degrade. The fact that stickers are so easy to replace is also one of the reasons why we prefer this method. There is also no restriction against placing multiple labels or stickers on your drone.
When placing stickers in your drone, be careful not to place them over any sensors. It would be a good idea to read the manual of your drone just to check on where critical sensors are placed.
Either engraving or permanent markers are also acceptable, but these are not quite as visible as stickers. Marks made via permanent markers also tend to disappear quickly. Engraved marks, on the other hand, can be a problem should you decide to sell your drone in the future.
Which drones need to be registered?
Drone registration rules depend on whether you intend to fly professionally or recreationally. All drone registrations have to be done via the FAADroneZone website. Drone registration only costs $5.
For those who wish to fly only for fun, drone registration will only be needed for drones that weigh 0.55 lbs. or more. If you own multiple drones, then you will only need to do a one-time registration. Your registration number will apply to all the drones that you own.
For those who use drones for commercial applications, your drone will have to be registered with the FAA regardless of its weight class. Drones must also be registered individually. Each drone will have to be marked with its unique registration number.
If you’re registering under recreational rules, be very careful that you do not unintentionally slip into the commercial category. You have to be flying your drone only for fun – nothing else. The definition of commercial drone activities is quite broad and it’s easy to end up operating outside the rules of recreational drone flight.
Does drone registration expire?
Yes. Drone registration (both professional and recreational) is valid only for 3 years. The good news is that renewing the registration is just as easy as your first drone registration.
Just log into your account on the FAADroneZone website, navigate to either the Part 107 or Recreational section, and click the ‘Renew’ button on the dashboard. Just follow the on-screen instruction from hereon. You will eventually be prompted to pay the $5 registration fee again. You should then be able to use your old registration number.
If for some reason, you can no longer access your old FAADroneZone account, you can always register your drone under a new one. The registration fee is just the same, after all. The only drawback is that you will be given a new registration number, so you will have to update any labels on your drone.
Registering your drone with the FAA is the first thing you need to do the moment that you unbox your drone. Don’t go flying it yet, though – marking it properly with the registration number is equally important.
While the FAA does not state explicitly where you should place the label of your drone, it’s best to understand the essence of the rule. The point is to mark the drone in a manner that makes the registration number as visible as possible. We recommend printing the number on a sticker and placing it somewhere obvious and conspicuous