Drone users can be fined nearly $30,000 for failing to register with the government, according to rules that can even apply to toy drones.
Beginning Feb. 19, all owners of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)—commonly known as drones—must be registered with the Federal Aviation Authority, if they own any drone weighing between 0.55 and 55 pounds. Individuals must pay a $5 fee to register, plus a $5 renewal fee every three years.
Owners with unregistered drones can face hefty fines and jail time. The fines were first reported by The Hill.
"Failure to register an aircraft may result in regulatory and criminal sanctions," the agency said in a fact sheet on the registration policy. "The FAA may assess civil penalties up to $27,500. Criminal penalties include fines of up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment for up to three years."
The agency said drone users must be listed in a federal database because "federal law requires aircraft registration."
The Federal Aviation Authority insists that it is not requiring most toy drones to be registered. However, some drones meant for kids must be registered due to their weight.
"Most ‘toys’ the FAA has identified at a purchase price of $100 or less have been determined to weigh less than 250g," the agency said, thereby exempting these drones from the rules.
As of January, 295,306 drone users had registered with the government. Paying $5 apiece, the agency would have made $1,476,530, though individuals who registered within the first 30 days had their money reimbursed.
Registration and fees could apply to the roughly 1 million drones that were purchased for Christmas gifts last year.