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(Pocket-lint) - We've officially reached peak drone... in the US, anyway.

Starting now, anyone who wants to fly a drone in the US must register.

The FAA has made it mandatory for all drones and their owners to be formally registered - presumably to bring more accountability to the drone industry, which has experienced criticism in recent years due to the rise in close-calls between unmanned drones and commercial aircraft as well as pedestrians. News of this federal law first surfaced last autumn, courtesy of NBC News.

We've explained everything you need to know about the new regulation, below, including how to register.

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FAA drone regulation: What is the FAA?

The FAA stands for Federal Aviation Administration. It is a US government agency with the authority to regulate and oversee all aspects of American civil aviation. You can learn more about the FAA from its website.

FAA drone regulation: What does the regulation stipulate?

On 14 December, the FAA announced a new a federal law that requires all drones weighing between 0.55 pounds and 50 pounds as well as their owners to be registered by 19 February 2016.

If you're caught flying without registration after that date, you could face penalties and fines, which may include civil penalties (up to $27,500 fine) and criminal penalties (up to $250,000 fine and up to three years in jail).

FAA drone regulation: When does registration open?

You will be able to register you and your drones starting 21 December.

FAA drone regulation: What information is required?

According to the FAA, US registrants will need to provide the following information:

"Registrants will need to provide their name, home address and e-mail address. Upon completion of the registration process, the web application will generate a Certificate of Aircraft Registration/Proof of Ownership that will include a unique identification number for the UAS owner, which must be marked on the aircraft."

So, you'll need the following to get started:

  • An email address
  • Credit or Debit card
  • Physical address and mailing address (if different from physical address)

FAA drone regulation: Does it cost to register?

There is a $5 fee to register. Registration is free for the first 30 days (until 20 January 2016).

FAA drone regulation: How do you register?

Later this month, drone owners will have access to a "paper-based process" or a "new streamlined, web-based system" (must be at least 13 years old to use web version). Registration is now live at:

FAA drone regulation: Do you have to mark your drones?

Yes. Once you receive a registration number, you must mark the registration number on all aircraft you own.

FAA drone regulation: Do you have to renew?

Yes. Your registration is valid for only three years.

Want to know more?

You can read the UAS Registration FAQs to learn more about the program, or the FAA's official press release here.

Writing by Elyse Betters.