You won’t need help registering your drone, the FAA says

Tony Wagner Nov 17, 2015

You won’t need help registering your drone, the FAA says

Tony Wagner Nov 17, 2015

Just days before guidelines are due, the Federal Aviation Administration has issued a warning about third-party drones offering to register drones.

It’s not clear what registration will entail yet, but a few websites have already popped up, offering to take care of all the paperwork for about $25.

“Unmanned aircraft users should know they probably won’t need help registering their drones when the system is in place,” the FAA said in a statement Monday, asking that drone owners wait for an official announcement before paying for registration help.

We’ve known since last month that the government would require hobbyists to register their drones, but a task force has been hashing out the particulars since then. The guidelines are due Friday, but the FAA said Monday that whatever the group works out will be about as simple as registering any product with its manufacturer. The recommendations will also include a minimum weight for drones that must be registered.

Businesses have been able to petition the FAA for an exemption to the ban on commercial drones since last year,  and several companies have popped up to help that process. At least two websites are advertising help with drone registration. The FAA stops short of calling these sites “scams,” but a few we found raise red flags.

For example, FederalDroneRegistration.com is a simple Squarespace site, registered privately and created just last month, just as the FAA announced it would require recreational drone registration. The site has little contact information, just a form and the address of a Delaware office park. It’s able to charge your credit card $24.99, however. Ditto for DroneNationalRegistry.com, which boasts 20 years of experience but was created just two weeks ago. It doesn’t list any contact information aside from a general email address, and the link to “start registration” goes right to PayPal without even asking for any information.

We reached out to both these companies, and Federal Drone Reservation sent back a long statement, saying it provides a necessary service, and similar companies are sprouting up all the time.

“Our service is no different than companies like online legal companies that charge businesses for EIN numbers that are already free, or lawfirms that charge drone companies thousands of dollars to get an FAA 333 exemption that they can submit themselves for free,” it said.

Scammy or not, these middlemen are likely to keep popping up. As the FAA’s registration system takes shape, the Consumer Electronics Association predicts about 700,000 drones will ship in the U.S. this year, with 7 percent of consumers saying they plan to buy one this holiday a season.

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