The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) last week announced a streamlined and user-friendly, web-based aircraft registration process for owners of drones — small unmanned aircraft (UAS) weighing more than 0.55 pounds (250 grams) and less than 55 pounds (approx. 25 kilograms) including payloads such as on-board cameras.

The Registration Task Force delivered recommendations to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in late November, well in time to cover new owners who would have gotten the popular devices for Christmas.

The rule incorporates many of the task force recommendations.

“Make no mistake: unmanned aircraft enthusiasts are aviators, and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility,” said Foxx. “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.”

Registration is a statutory requirement that applies to all aircraft. Under this rule, any owner of a drone who has previously operated an unmanned aircraft exclusively as a model aircraft prior to Dec. 21, 2015, must register no later than Feb. 19, 2016.

Owners of any other UAS purchased for use as a model aircraft after Dec. 21, 2015 must register before the first flight outdoors. Owners may use either the paper-based process or the new streamlined, web-based system.  Owners using the web-based system must be at least 13 years old and be a U.S. citizen to register.

Owners may register online at www.faa.gov/uas/registration

Registrants must provide their name, home address and e-mail address. Upon completion of the registration process, the web application will generate a Certificate of Aircraft Registration/Proof of Ownership that will include a unique identification number for the UAS owner, which must be marked on the aircraft.

Owners using the model aircraft for hobby or recreation will only have to register once and may use the same identification number for all of their model drones/planes. The registration is valid for three years.

The normal registration fee is $5, but to encourage people to register quickly, the FAA is waiving the fee until Jan 20, 2016.

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