"We expect hundreds of thousands of model unmanned aircraft will be purchased this holiday season," FAA administrator Michael Huerta says in a press release. "Registration gives us the opportunity to educate these new airspace users before they fly so they know the airspace rules and understand they are accountable to the public for flying responsibly."
Registration requires the operator's name, home address and email address, and it's valid for three years. The process results in a certificate that includes a unique identification number, which must be noted on the drone itself. If you don't register a drone, you risk civil penalties of up to $27,500, or criminal penalties of up to $250,000 and/or three years imprisonment.
The new online-registration rules apply to hobbyist or recreational drone operators only, for now. The FAA plans to roll out online registration for a wider range of drone operators, including commercial uses, by spring 2016. For now, business-centric drone operators have to register using the paper-based process, the FAA says.
[Image credit: Flickr/Richard Unten]