You may have seen that Washington DC recently banned the use of drones. If you read the entire article, however, you’ll see they are only considering a total drone ban. But, this is good news for drone pilots looking to fly a drone in Washington DC. As long as you follow the rules and regulations, you can use a drone for photography or just for fun flying around the nation’s capital.

Follow The Rules

Here are all the rules you need to know:

  • There are no-fly zones around national landmarks, airports and military facilities.
  • You cannot fly over people.
  • You have to have a pilot’s license if your drone weighs more than 55 pounds, in which case you would probably not be reading this anyway.
  • The FAA requires that you register any drone that weighs more than 0.55 pounds but less than 55 pounds (which is most of them) unless it is for hobby or recreational purposes only.
  • It costs $5 for a three-year registration online, and you will receive a certificate of registration and a unique ID number to put on your drone that expires in three years. Registration can also be done through the mail at an additional cost.

How You Legally Fly A Drone In Washington Dc

You Need To Register Your Drone

In order to legally fly a drone in Washington D.C., you must register your drone with the Federal Aviation Administration. The cost is $5, though some states may charge their own fees as well.

You must be 13 years of age or older to register a drone, and the registration is good for three years before it needs to be renewed again. You can also register multiple drones under one account, so make sure you list every drone you plan to fly in D.C., not just the one you are registering first (you can always add more later).

Once registered, you’ll need to attach your registration number onto each of your drones before flying them in D.C.

Fly Only In Daylight And Under 400 Feet

  • Fly Only In Daylight And Under 400 Feet.
  • Keep the aircraft within visual line of sight at all times.
  • Remain well clear of and do not interfere with manned aircraft operations.
  • Don’t fly within 5 miles of an airport unless you contact the airport and control tower before flying.
  • Don’t fly near people or stadiums.

Never Fly Over Groups Of People

You cannot fly over groups of people, moving vehicles, or private property. If you want to film a wedding or baseball game you need the expressed written consent of each individual in the crowd below. In other words, give everyone a waiver when they enter the park.

If your drone weighs more than 0.55 pounds you also need to stay well away from government buildings and national monuments like the White House and Monument grounds.

This is listed as a “No-Fly Zone” by the FAA and enforced by local law enforcement agencies such as the United States Park Police, Metropolitan Police Department, United States Capitol Police and others. The Secret Service monitors airspace around protected areas including 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW where President Trump lives with his family.

Stay 5 Miles Away From Airports

Stay 5 Miles Away From Airports

You are required to stay at least 5 miles away from all airports. This includes Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Dulles International Airport, and Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.

Fly Your Drone Within Sight At All Times

Fly Your Drone Within Sight At All Times

Fly Your Drone Within Sight At All Times.

The FAA requires that you maintain direct unaided visual contact with your drone while it is flying. This means that you must always be able to see your drone with the naked eye and steer it so to avoid any obstacles. If a remote camera is mounted on your drone, make sure that the video transmission isn’t delayed as this could put the drone outside of visual range before the operator realizes it.

If you have a first-person view (FPV) system installed on your drone, ensure that another individual is also watching where you are flying and can take over in case anything happens to you or if the FPV transmitter fails.

Avoid Flying Near Stadiums And Sporting Events

  • Avoid Flying Near Stadiums And Sporting Events.
  • Always fly your drone responsibly and within the bounds of common sense; if you’re unsure of what that means, don’t fly.
  • Keep your drone in sight: as the person operating a drone, you are responsible for seeing and avoiding other aircraft, people on the ground, and objects.

As an operator, you must maintain visual line-of-sight with your drone at all times. This means being able to see it with your own eyes (rather than through video feed), without any aid like binoculars or telescopes. If at all possible, have another person spot for you who can look out for things like overhead airplanes or people walking into your flight path.

Take An Online Test To Educate Yourself

As part of the process, you must take an online test to demonstrate your knowledge and awareness of aeronautics, piloting your craft safely, and keeping out of other air traffic. These tests are given by the FAA for individuals that want a license to pilot remote aircraft in Washington DC . The appropriate test is determined by the individual’s age:

The knowledge test for individuals 16 years of age or older is called the Remote Pilot Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application. This test is free and can be taken as many times as needed until passed. A study guide is available here.

Individuals 15 years old or younger must take a different knowledge test: Part 101 Subpart E-Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Rule, which requires applicants to answer 25 multiple-choice questions on aeronautics and safe operations.

Applicants have two hours to complete this portion of the licensing procedure, which can be taken as many times as necessary until the applicant passes. A sample exam can be taken online before attempting to get your official FAA certification here. Upon passing this exam, you will receive an FAA Certificate of Knowledge

Read Faa’s Rules For Flying Recreational Drones

Before you start flying your UAV in the greater DC area, you’ll need to learn a little bit of drone etiquette. It’s no surprise that Washington has some specific rules for drones, given its status as a homeland security hot spot and its proximity to three busy airports. But fortunately, most of the rules are pretty much the same in any part of the country.

Make Sure Your Drone Is Less Than 55 Pounds

Make Sure Your Drone Is Less Than 55 Pounds and not a model aircraft or kit

Make Sure Your Drone Is Less Than 55 Pounds and not a model aircraft or kit (those are used for hobby or recreational purposes).

Your drone must be registered. It’s $5 to register, and you can do it here. Once you’ve completed the registration process, your confirmation number will be valid for three years. You’ll receive a certificate of registration with a unique ID number, which you will have to have on hand when flying your drone.

The rules state that all models must weigh less than 55 lbs., so make sure to double check the weight before even thinking of flying in Washington DC (you could also get into trouble if you’re flying without a registration!).

Flying A Drone In Washington Dc Is Illegal

If you’re planning to fly in a park, you must first check with local authorities on the rules and regulations of that park.

These can vary state by state or park to park, so it’s important to always do your research before flying. In general though, as long as you stay below 400 feet, keep clear of buildings/people, and don’t interfere with any manned aircrafts or emergency services operations, flying in an open field should be fine.

The rules are different if you want to fly your drone in a national park or other federal property. You’ll need permission from the National Park Service to do this and must fill out a form detailing when you plan on flying and what equipment you will be using (you can find more details about how to do this here).

The NPS has outlined some general guidelines for flying a drone in a national park which include keeping your drone within line of sight at all times and not flying over groups of people/sensitive resources.

No-fly Zone For Small Unmanned Aircraft

You can’t fly your drone in the national mall.

If you want to fly your drone in Washington, DC, you must apply for a waiver from the FAA.

You can’t fly your drone within 400 feet of any structure that doesn’t belong to you or at least 2,000 feet above sea level. You also can’t even fly a drone in restricted airspace around Washington, DC because it’s a no-fly zone for small unmanned aircraft (like those used by hobbyists or journalists).

Large Number Of Tall Buildings And Skyscrapers

Large Number Of Tall Buildings And Skyscrapers

If you’re planning on flying a drone in Washington DC or the surrounding area, be aware that it’s one of the most expensive places to fly a drone because of the high density of tall buildings and skyscrapers. You’ll also have a hard time flying your drone in and around Washington DC because of the large number of people gathered at events or on the national mall.

High Number Of Air Traffic

Therefore, if you’re flying a drone for commercial purposes, then you will need to get your Section 333 exemption approved before you can fly in Washington D.C., as well as pass the FAA’s aeronautical knowledge test and get your remote pilot certificate.

However, that doesn’t mean that recreational drone pilots don’t have a place to fly in Washington DC. There are still several spots in the district where you can fly both lawfully and safely. For example:

  • The National Mall (without flying over or within 5 miles of an airport)
  • Rock Creek Park (without flying over or within 2 miles of an airport)

Also keep an eye out for temporary flight restrictions that are put in place around large public gatherings—including events like political rallies, parades, and sporting events—that could possibly interfere with how safe it is to fly your drone there.

You’ll Be Best Off Not Flying Your Drone Outside At All While In Washington Dc

With a drone, you can capture all the beautiful architecture and sights Washington DC has to offer. However, it’s not as simple as just going into the city and flying your drone wherever you’d like. Like most large cities, there is a lot of security in DC and it’s illegal to fly drones there.

To make sure that you’re staying on the right side of the law while flying in Washington DC:

  • First see if your flight area is legal by checking out Know Before You Fly, which lets you know what cities are legal or illegal to fly in.
  • Make sure that you are following all FAA rules in regards to keeping your drone within sight at all times and notifying Air Traffic Control if it weighs over 55 pounds or if you’re within five miles of an airport.
  • If your flight area is outside five miles from an airport, a Part 107 certificate may be necessary for operations outside Class G airspace. Get permission from the FAA by contacting them through their Drone Zone website before flying there.
  • Always check local laws and guidance before taking off and follow any additional rules that might apply.

Frequently Asked Question (can You Fly A Drone In Washington Dc )

What Are The Drone Laws In Washington Dc?

Drone laws are very specific and can vary depending on the location of your flight. In this article we will focus on drone laws in Washington DC, but they are similar to those in other parts of the United States and around the world.

Where Can I Fly My Drone In Washington Dc?

You can fly a drone in Washington DC, but you must follow the rules.

The National Park Service has guidelines for flying drones in national parks and other federal lands. You must obtain permission from the agency before operating your drone; they will determine whether or not it can remain safely within the boundaries of their property.

Where Can I Take Pictures With My Drone In Washington D.c.?

The National Mall, the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial all make fantastic locations for taking pictures with your drone. While you’re in DC, be sure to also check out some of these other great spots:

  • Jefferson Memorial
  • Vietnam Veterans Memorial
  • Korean War Veterans Memorial
  • World War II Memorial

If you’re looking for something a little more unique, don’t forget that there are tons of museums and art galleries throughout Washington D.C., many of which have outdoor sculptures and gardens perfect for drone photography!

It Is Possible To Fly A Drone Legally In Washington Dc?

It is possible to fly a drone legally in Washington DC. In fact, the FAA has created a special program for drones that allows you to fly your drone if you follow the rules and regulations set out by them.

If you wish to fly within five miles of an airport then you must have additional training from someone who holds an airman certificate with category rating for large airplanes (more than 12,500 pounds).


The short answer is that it depends. In short, no, you may not fly a drone in Washington DC. However, if you are a hobbyist who just wants to take aerial photos for fun of a park or famous building, you may be able to fly your drone under 400 feet and away from airports.

If this sounds like what you’re planning to do with your drone and are just visiting from out of town, find the most popular tourist attractions in the area and plan to take pictures of them from across the street.

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