FAA Remote ID Rule for Drones Takes Full Effect

The agency began discretionary enforcement of remote ID compliance in September, but all drone pilots now face penalties for violating the rule.

drones UAS remote ID Skydio X10

Nearly all drones in the U.S. weighing more than 0.55 pounds, such as Skydio’s X10 for enterprise customers, must now include remote ID broadcast capabilities. [Courtesy: Skydio]

Drone pilots and manufacturers in the U.S. now face fines or suspensions if their drones are not equipped with remote identification technology.

As of Saturday, the FAA’s Remote ID rule—which mandates that all drones required to be registered with the agency include a “digital license plate” that broadcasts information such as ID number, location, and altitude—is in full effect. The rule is intended to allow the FAA, law enforcement, and other federal agencies to monitor unsafe flights as more drone pilots earn their wings.

Congress in 2016 directed the FAA to develop standards and regulations for remote identification of uncrewed aircraft systems (UAS) pilots and operators. The agency delivered its final remote ID guidelines in 2021 and began enforcing them on a discretionary basis in September, allowing additional time for some noncompliant models to be updated.

However, with the rule now in full effect, businesses, law enforcement agencies, and even recreational flyers face the possibility of their drone pilot license being revoked or civil penalties up to $27,500 for flying a drone without remote ID.

What Is Remote ID, and How Can You Comply?

Put simply, remote ID is like a drone’s digital license plate.

The technology transmits information such as the UAS’s unique ID number, location, altitude, velocity, and plenty more over a 2- to 3-mile range. That data (which does not include personal identifying information) is then made available to private and public stakeholders, which can alert the FAA of unsafe flight, request an aircraft be grounded, or simply find out more information about a drone.

A good rule of thumb is that if your UAS must be registered with the FAA, it needs to have remote ID. But as with many FAA rules and regulations, there are a few exceptions.

Drones weighing less than 0.55 pounds, for example, are exempt under the regulator’s Exception for Limited Recreational Operations. The agency can also waive remote ID compliance for operators conducting aeronautical research or in special cases under Part 89, such as for home-built drones.

Flights without remote ID in FAA-recognized identification areas (FRIAs)—areas of highly monitored airspace dedicated to drone flight, a full list of which can be found here—are also permitted. But the pilot must keep the drone within their visual line of sight. Educational institutions and FAA-recognized community-based organizations can apply to establish FRIAs.

According to the FAA, the vast majority of drones manufactured since September 2022 contain remote ID-compliant hardware. The catalogs of major brands such as DJI and Parrot, for example, largely contain models with the technology already installed.

If a drone was purchased before December 2022—the month the FAA began enforcing remote ID compliance for UAS manufacturers—owners can check the FAA website for a Declaration of Compliance (DOC), which confirms the model is equipped with the proper systems.

Additionally, recreational and Part 107 pilots can retrofit drones with remote ID capabilities using a remote ID broadcast module. Firms such as uAvionix and Dronetag offer FAA-approved modules that can make just about any drone compliant, though these limit pilots to visual-line-of-sight operations. Adding a module to a noncompliant drone requires the operator to register it with the FAA, even if it is already listed.

If the remote ID-compliant drone being registered is the user’s first, FLYING’s Part 107 remote pilot certification guide explains those steps. Recreational and Part 107 flyers with one or more drones already registered, meanwhile, can add new devices on FAADroneZone.

For Part 107 pilots, each device must be registered individually with a unique ID number. Recreational flyers can use the same registration number to cover all devices in their inventory and transfer broadcast modules from drone to drone. More information on registering remote ID drones and broadcast modules can be found in FLYING’s remote ID guide.

Manufacturers will also need to comply with the remote ID rule, unless an exception applies. These include exceptions for drones built at home, produced for the U.S. government, weighing less than 0.55 pounds, or designed exclusively for aeronautical research or to show compliance with another rule. Type-certified UAS are also exempt in many cases. Otherwise, the manufacturer must produce drones with remote ID systems already installed.

Further, UAS manufacturers must allow the FAA to audit their facilities, technical data, and any remote ID drone or broadcast module produced. Recurring audits must be performed and results provided to the FAA upon request.

On Monday, the Association for Uncrewed Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) and Commercial Drone Alliance (CDA)—two of the drone industry’s largest nonprofit organizations—published answers to frequently asked questions about remote ID, providing more guidance to pilots and manufacturers.

“Remote ID harmonizes the needs of UAS operators and law enforcement stakeholders, and compliance is absolutely necessary for the secure and scalable integration of UAS into the airspace,” said Michael Robbins, chief advocacy officer at AUVSI. “By providing a resource that addresses our community's questions around the rule, our aim is to support widespread commercial drone operations and the benefits they bring to the communities where they operate.”

The reference document contains additional information about what remote ID is, how to comply with the new rule, and conditions for exemptions, among other guidance. Both AUVSI and CDA applauded the FAA’s commitment to enforcing provisions they believe will enable safer drone flight.

“Addressing safety and security is necessary in order to achieve scaled commercial drone operations,” said Lisa Ellman, executive director of the CDA. “Ultimately, industry [remote ID] rule compliance will enable communities across the United States to fully realize the safety, security, sustainability, public health, and equity benefits of drone technology.”

Like this story? We think you'll also like the Future of FLYING newsletter sent every Thursday afternoon. Sign up now.

Jack is a staff writer covering advanced air mobility, including everything from drones to unmanned aircraft systems to space travel—and a whole lot more. He spent close to two years reporting on drone delivery for FreightWaves, covering the biggest news and developments in the space and connecting with industry executives and experts. Jack is also a basketball aficionado, a frequent traveler and a lover of all things logistics.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Get the latest FLYING stories delivered directly to your inbox

Subscribe to our newsletter