The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), part of the US Department of Transportation, commenced online registrations for all drone owners residing in the country. The website went live on 21 December.
According to a statement by the FAA, drone owners will have to register their unmanned aircraft system (UAS) of a certain weight. Under the new rule, drone users above 13 years of age need to register all drones they own. Anthony Foxx, US Transportation Secretary said, "Make no mistake: unmanned aircraft enthusiasts are aviators, and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility. Registration gives us an opportunity to work with these users to operate their unmanned aircraft safely. I'm excited to welcome these new aviators into the culture of safety and responsibility that defines American innovation."
The US government has set up new rules for using unmanned drones after certain cases of UAS abuse came to light. The FAA noted that there had been a few cases of drones flying over restricted air spaces. As a result, monitoring of UAS became of paramount importance, to ensure interference with emergency service work and security is kept at a minimum.
According to the FAA "severe cases" of drone abuse would see the offenders being criminally prosecuted. Offenders can face up to three years in prison and be charged with hefty fines amounting to $250,000 (£167,860).
The new rules state that registration of all UAS must be made before 19 February 2016. To encourage all drone owners to register, the FAA has made the registrations free for the first 30 days. The registration fee after that would be $5.
The FAA has outlined weight restrictions for registering drones. All UAS that weigh more than 0.55lb (250g) and less than 55lb need to be registered. Any UAS that weighs more than 55lb need to be registered with the Aircraft Registry Process.