If you registered to fly your drone, but only fly for fun, you can now remove your name from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s drone registration database and get your $5 back.
The FAA now has a page on its website where hobbyist drone operators can apply for de-registration and a refund.
Currently, if drone operators aren’t making money from flying their drone and are just flying for recreation, they don’t have to register with the FAA. If you’re flying your drone for money, registration is still a requirement.
A federal court ruled in May that the FAA’s drone registration rules, which have been in place since 2015, were in violation of a law passed by Congress in 2012. That law, the FAA Modernization and Reform Act, prohibited the agency from passing any rules on the operation of model aircraft. In other words, rules that restrict how non-commercial hobbyist drone operators fly.
Since first opening the FAA’s registration system in December 2015, more than 820,000 people have registered to fly drones. It costs $5 to register a drone, which means the FAA may have collected over $4 million in registration fees. But not all of that money is eligible for a refund, since commercial operators still need to be registered.
The law that the court said the FAA violated is set to expire in September, and there are now proposals in Congress that could restore the FAA’s authority to require registration more broadly.
Still, the FAA says it continues to recommend that drone operators voluntarily register with the agency.
Drone registration is one way in which law enforcement can attempt to locate a pilot if the aircraft is flown in a reckless or illegal way.