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Drone registration is now legally required – here’s what you need to know

It’s finally happened – the US has mandated drone registration for all of its citizens.

The Federal Aviation Administration today announced that all drone operators – civilian or otherwise – must now be registered.

Anyone can own a drone of course, but if you want to actually fly it, you’ll need to sign on with the FAA.

The new rule applies to any and all drones that weigh between 0.55 pounds and 55 pounds. That figure includes cargo, like a GoPro camera.

“Make no mistake: unmanned aircraft enthusiast are aviators, and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility,” explains Anthony Foxx, US Transportation Secretary.

“Registration gives us an opportunity to work with these users to operate their unmanned aircraft safely,” he continues. “I’m excited to welcome these new aviators into the culture of safety and responsibility that defines American innovation.”

A license with the FAA will cost each operator $5, and must be renewed every three years. However, the FAA is waiving the fee for anyone who registers before January 20, 2016, to encourage sign-ups.

Do note: Drone operators only need to register once, and apply that number to each of their drones, as clarified by Mashable.

The new scheme and website go live on December 21, but current drone owners have until February 19, 2016, to register.

After this date, anyone caught operating drones without registration could face criminal and civil penalties.

An FAQ reveals that criminal penalties could include fines of up to $250,000, and jail time for up to three years.

Related: DJI Phantom 3 Professional drone review

“We expect hundreds of thousands of model unmanned aircraft will be purchased this holiday season,” says FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

He adds: “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.”

Do you think the FAA is right to demand drone registration? Let us know in the comments.

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