If you’re the proud owner of a drone—or are one of the thousands of shoppers who’ll purchase one this holiday season—the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) wants to know about it. And the agency has finally set a deadline.
Starting December 21, the FAA wants you to register any small, remote, aerial vehicle that weighs between 0.55 and 55 pounds with the government. It’ll cost you $5, but that fee will be waived during the first 30 days. Each registration is good for three years.
When’s your deadline? If you’ve owned your drone since before December 21, you’ve got until February 19, 2016, to complete registration. But weirdly, if you’ll own your drone after December 21, you’ll need to register before you take your UAV out for its first outdoor flight.
“Make no mistake: unmanned aircraft enthusiast are aviators, and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility,” US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in the FAA press release announcing the deadline. “Registration gives us an opportunity to work with these users to operate their unmanned aircraft safely.”
The call for registration comes at a time when civilian drone use seems more complicated than ever. A recent study from Bard University found that there were over 300 “near-misses” between drones and piloted aircraft in 2015. Andone YouTuber recently outfitted his drone with a flamethrower and posted footage of it incinerating a turkey on a spit.
Over 400,000 drones are expected to be sold this holiday season, so the FAA is going to have its work cut out for it—both in terms of wrangling registrations, and in nailing down clearer rules for hobbyists.