Have you ever heard of drone laws? If you’re a new flyer there is no doubt that you will learn how to fly drones and probably find yourself in a situation where laws are being broken. That’s why it’s important to know the drone laws in your state. Drone laws in California vary so it is important to know what these laws are.

As more people become aware of the capabilities and efficiency of drones, the drone market in California is expanding. Most of the enthusiasts who want to operate a drone use little know laws or even worse, just take the chance that they will not get caught. Fortunately, this blog post will bring you up to speed so you can fly your drone legally in California.

What are the drone laws California? Are you planning to buy or use a drone in the state of California? Most of the people who bought drones and flying toys are unaware of the basic drone laws.

You will learn about drones not flown within line of sight, drones used for commercial purposes, drones over invasive species, flying drones out to 10 miles offshore, flying drones at night and in national parks.

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California Has Drone Laws

You should know the California drone laws before you fly. You may not know how to identify them or who to ask about them, but trust me, they’re important. You need to be aware of two kinds of drone laws: state (California) and federal.

Federal drone laws are made by Congress and apply nationwide; state laws are made by the California legislature and apply in California only.

Remember that these aren’t the same thing: The FAA rules say what you can’t do, while the Californian law says what you can do.

If a drone law is silent on some issue—for example, whether it’s okay to fly a drone over someone else’s house without their consent — then you should follow both FAA rules and California law by avoiding that activity until lawmakers clarify matters.

In California, Drones Cannot Fly Over People

Drone Laws California

If you’re flying over people that are involved in the operation of your drone, it’s allowed. If a group of people is standing around watching you fly your drone, they are considered bystanders and it is not allowed to fly over them.

This is fine if you’re just doing some recreational flying on your own property or in the park, but what if you’re trying to film a movie or do aerial photography? You can’t really get the shot you want without flying over people!

To solve this problem, it might be worth looking into getting some waivers from the FAA. The FAA has rules about how close to airports drones can operate as well as how high they can fly, but with a waiver from the FAA these rules can be waived (temporarily).

Drones Cannot Fly Higher Than 400 Feet

You may not fly your drone higher than 400 feet above the ground or a structure unless you are within 400 feet of that structure.

I think the purpose of this rule is to reduce the likelihood of drones flying into or near aircraft. The most important part is probably “higher than 400 feet above the ground.”

If you’re flying at, say, 200 feet above the ground, you have plenty of time to react if there’s an aircraft in your path and move out of its way. I’d say that the least important part is “within 400 feet of that structure,” because it doesn’t really matter where you are relative to a structure as long as you’re flying low enough.

A few examples of structures are buildings and utility poles.

Drones Cannot Obstruct A Law Enforcement Officer

Drones Cannot Obstruct A Law Enforcement Officer

You also may not fly your drone in a way that obstructs or interferes with law enforcement officials. In other words, you can’t fly your drone directly over a police officer’s head if they’re trying to do their job.

You also can’t use your drone in a way that threatens the safety of a law enforcement officer, or in a way that stops them from performing their duties.

Drones In California Cannot Interfere With First Responders

To fly a drone in California, you must know that the laws are:

  • You must yield right of way to any manned aircraft.
  • You cannot fly over groups of people or public events.
  • You cannot interfere with first responders such as firefighters, EMTs, and search and rescue teams doing their jobs.

Drones In California Must Have An Effective Lighting System

  • Drone lighting system requirements:
  • If a drone will be operated during the day, it must have an effective lighting system that makes it visible at all times from 3 miles away. The lighting system must be visible from above, below, and from each side.
  • If the drone is over 55 pounds: It must also have a lighted anti-collision light that can be seen for 3 miles and in all directions.

A person flying a small UAS (unmanned aircraft systems) in California may not operate it at night unless the unmanned aircraft has an effective anti-collision lighting system.

Drones Must Be Illuminated If They Are Flown Within 5 Miles Of An Airport.

  • If you have a drone that weighs more than 0.55 pounds (250 grams), it must be registered with the FAA if you intend to fly it outdoors. This step is required by federal law, so don’t skip it.
  • You can register your drone online in just a few minutes, and registration costs $5 for the first three years of ownership. Registering your drone may also qualify you for discounts on various insurance policies, so do some research before buying anything!
  • You will need to provide the following information when registering: model name or number; serial number; proof of ownership (like an invoice); proof of U.S. citizenship or permanent residency status; and a credit card for payment purposes.

All Drones Being Flown Outside

All Drones Being Flown Outside

If you’re flying a drone outside of your home and it is over 0.55 pounds (250 grams), you must register it with the FAA. The good news is, registering is simple and cheap! You can do it online for $5.

There’s no expiration date on your registration, so once you’ve registered your drone, you don’t have to worry about paying this fee again, even if you buy more drones in the future. However, there is one caveat: to register a drone through the FAA website, you must be at least 13 years old.”

Before Operating A Drone In California, Check Out The Rules!

Before operating a drone in California, check out the rules!

  • California drone laws overview
  • Permission required to operate a drone commercially.
  • For hobbyist drone operators, the FAA’s registration requirements apply.
  • Global database of information on national, regional and municipal laws that impact unmanned aircraft systems (UAS)

How To Register Drones In California

Why You Should Register Your Drone

The law in California says that you must register your drone. Registering your drone is a first step to help ensure drones are used safely and responsibly.

Who Has To Register Their Drone

If you own a drone weighing more than 0.55 pounds, you must register it with the FAA using your Social Security number. If you own a drone weighing less than 0.55 pounds, then congratulations!

You don’t have to worry about registering it with the FAA at all! However, if someone gifts you a drone that weighs more than 0.55 pounds and then flies it on your behalf, then that person must register the drone using their Social Security number.

To recap: if you are gifted a drone that weighs more than 0.55 pounds and never fly it, you do not have to register the aircraft.

However, once you start flying it yourself or let your friend fly it for fun on holiday weekends when there’s no traffic in the sky, then suddenly both of your names will be on the dotted line and ownership of said aircraft will be verified by the FAA with each of your Social Security numbers

All this information is also available on our website www.faa/gov

How To Register Your Drone In California

  • Create an account at www.registermyuas.faa.gov (they’ll use your username and password to confirm your identity)
  • Enter the drone’s serial number, which can be found on the battery handle or printed on the outside of the box it came in
  • Enter your personal information including name and address
  • Pay a $5 registration fee online using a credit card
  • Print out your certificate of registration once you’re done

How Much Does It Cost To Register Your Drone In California?

In the state of California, registering a drone costs $5. This fee is due at the time of registration and cannot be refunded. If you lose your registration number, it will cost another $5 to retrieve it.

The registration period is valid for a period of three years.

Remember That Being A Safe And Responsible Pilot

Getting your drone registered with the FAA is a great first step, but what comes next?

Now that you’ve got the drone basics down, it’s time to look beyond the FAA registration process and consider how to be a responsible pilot. Here are some tips:

  • Remember that being a safe and responsible pilot is one of the best ways to show our industry, and the rest of the country, that drones are tools for good.
  • Always follow local laws and regulations when flying your drone.
  • Be respectful of others’ privacy while you fly—and be ready to say hi if someone says hi back!
  • Fly your drone below 400 feet whenever possible or as directed by airport traffic control tower if you’re flying within five miles of an airport. (If in doubt, don’t fly.)
  • Avoid flying over groups of people, public events and stadiums full of people. You should also avoid flying near emergency response efforts like fires no matter how tempting those shots might seem.
  • Wildfires can spread quickly so stay far away from them for your own safety. Avoid flying under the influence at all times — this one is pretty self-explanatory but worth saying again (seriously).

Are Drones Allowed In California?

Are Drones Allowed In California?

The Use Of Drones Is Prohibited In California’s State Parks

The use of drones is prohibited in California’s state parks, as well as on beaches and within 400 feet of any cliff, pier, or wharf.

The use of drones is allowed in national forests at the discretion of the U.S. Forest Service (the service’s local ranger station should be able to provide information regarding drone use).

You will need a permit to fly drones in state beaches or within any state marine conservation areas.

Additionally, you’ll need a permit to fly a drone in any national park; if you want to film with your drone commercially, you’ll also need permission from multiple other parties.

Drone Users Must Register Their Devices With Faa

It’s important that drone users not only familiarize themselves with any laws or regulations in place, but also follow them. In the United States, every operator of a drone weighing more than 0.55 pounds must register their device with the FAA.

Registering your drone can be done quickly and easily online, but you must be at least 13 years old to do so. Registration is free and lasts three years, after which it needs to be renewed, and you can register multiple drones at once if necessary.

When registering your drone, you’ll be given a unique registration number (sample: 123456789) that must be displayed on the outside of your drone so that it is easily visible for authorities and other people who could potentially view your drone flying overhead.

Remember, this registration number is tied to each individual owner of a drone (you), which means if ownership of the device changes hands without re-registering it under the new owner’s name, whoever took possession of the unregistered device will face consequences should they operate it illegally or improperly.

Drones Are Allowed In National Forests

You can fly your drone in national forests as long as you follow the FAA’s rules and regulations. You have to be at least 13 years old, be a US citizen, and register your drone before flying it. You also have to fly your drone under 400 feet, not over people or stadiums, and not within 5 miles of an airport without first contacting the airport and control tower.

Your state parks probably allow you to fly drones in them—but there may be some restrictions on where you can fly your drone. Make sure you check with each park before flying.

Most state parks will let you know if they don’t allow drones in their parks. The few that don’t allow drones often restrict them because of noise pollution or wildlife concerns.

In addition, some national parks do not allow drones in their state parks: Denali National Park is one such example. If you want to fly a drone within a national park that doesn’t allow them, then see if the park will issue special permits for your purpose (e.g., research). If that doesn’t work out then try applying for a film permit from the National Park Service (NPS).

Drones Are Not Allowed On State Beaches

Drones are not allowed on California state beaches or inside any state marine conservation areas without a permit. Unauthorized drones in these areas can cause serious accidents, especially if they fall into the water.

A good rule of thumb is to avoid state beaches and marine conservation areas unless you have received permission from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Drone Use Is Restricted In National Parks

This section is going to provide you with a few facts about the drone regulations in California.

It’s important to note that because the drone laws in California are very similar to those of the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), it is only necessary to register your drone with the FAA if you plan on flying it outside of your home state.

However, as mentioned earlier, there are some rules that you’ll need to follow when flying a drone in California, regardless of whether or not it is registered with the FAA. Specifically:

  • When operating a drone for recreational purposes (as opposed to commercial use), there are several regulations that must be followed by both operators and bystanders. For example, drones may not fly over people or within five miles of an airport unless they have prior authorization from air traffic control.
  • Additionally, recreational drones must stay below 400 feet above ground level (AGL) at all times unless otherwise approved by a waiver from the FAA.
  • This means if you’re flying near tall buildings like skyscrapers, then make sure your drone doesn’t go higher than 400 feet as measured from its takeoff point on top of one building down through any intervening spaces between buildings before reaching another building where it might land — again without passing over any people who could be injured by falling debris if something goes wrong during this process!

You Cannot Operate A Drone Inside Yosemite’s Giant Sequoia Groves

 While drones are allowed in Yosemite National Park, there are a few areas where drone operation is prohibited. You cannot operate a drone inside Yosemite’s Giant Sequoia groves, nor can you operate a drone over Glacier Point or Wissen Meadow. These restrictions protect these areas from potential disturbance and damage.

The Giant Sequoias are the largest trees by volume in the world, and they are protected under the Endangered Species Act. They grow to be hundreds of years old, with some as tall as 250 feet and up to 100 feet in diameter at their base.

They need space to thrive—the park protects them by keeping them separated from each other—and they also need to be shielded from invasive species that can weaken their roots or spread disease through their bark.

Finally, since they have been around for centuries already, sequoias are highly sensitive to air pollution—while drones might not seem like much of an issue when it comes to polluting the environment, it’s best not to take any chances with these trees.

You Need To Get A Permit To Fly Drones At Santa Monica State Beach

You need to get a permit to fly drones at Santa Monica State Beach, or within 500 feet of the shoreline, within 100 feet of any person or structure, or over 50 feet in elevation.

According to the California State Parks website, “Any drone flight at Santa Monica State Beach must be permitted by California State Parks and coordinated with LA County Fire Lifeguards and LA County Regional Park Police for safety.”

Drone Use At Saddleback Butte State Park Is Restricted

If you plan to use a drone at Saddleback Butte State Park, you will need to get a permit. Flying drones for recreational purposes is only allowed in the upper parking lot of the park and top of the butte. Drones are not allowed on trails or near livestock, campers or other visitors.

Located 7 miles east of Lancaster and 55 miles north of Los Angeles, this state park is a beautiful destination offering opportunities for hiking and camping. The park was once an ancient volcano which has eroded over time.

Today, the 3,651-foot-high volcanic core remains as one of the most prominent landmarks in southern California’s Antelope Valley; hikers can climb to its summit via several trails that wind through an adjacent Joshua Tree Forest.

There Are Many Restrictions On Drones In California

Drones are becoming increasingly popular among recreational and professional users. While drones can be flown safely in many places, you should always check the local rules before you travel with a drone.

You can fly your drone for fun or work in places like Yosemite National Park, but you will need to stay out of certain areas. In California, there are many restrictions on where you can fly a drone and if they’re even allowed at all.


It’s a good idea to choose a model that is permitted for use in many places, so you don’t need to worry about whether or not your particular model is allowed.

Know the rules before you go or you could get fined. You should also take care to make sure that nothing falls off of your drone during its flight because this could damage property or hurt someone.

The FAA has a guide that explains how far away from other people and buildings drones must remain as well as other regulations about flying drones safely over populated areas like cities and townships.

Frequently Asked Questions (drone Laws California)

How To Register A Drone In California?

You can register your drone online with the CA DMV. You’ll need a valid driver’s license or identification card, as well as a credit card to pay the $5 fee.

You can also register your drone in person at any local DMV office. If you do this, prepare to wait in line as there may be hundreds of people there doing the same thing!

How Much Does It Cost To Register A Drone In California?

You can register your drone for free on the FAA website. The process is quick and easy. Once you’ve registered, you’ll receive a Certificate of Aircraft Registration/Proof of Ownership (PDF) that includes your registration number and an airworthiness certificate for your drone.

You must register each drone you own individually; you cannot use one registration number for multiple drones.

If you buy a new drone, it’s recommended that you use the same registration number as the previous one. However, this isn’t required by law; different model numbers can have different registrations numbers (for example, if they’re made by different manufacturers).

Do You Have To Register Hobbyist Drone In California?

In California, you do not have to register a hobbyist drone as long as it weighs less than 55 lbs and is used for recreational purposes only.

How To Take Off With Drone In California?

You must be at least 16 years old to fly a drone in California.

  • You must have a valid driver’s license or identification card.
  • You must have a valid credit card or debit card.
  • You must have a valid U.S. mobile phone number (you will be required to provide it when you register your drone).

What Are The Rules Of Flying A Drone In California?

In California, you must fly your drone:

  • Within the visual line of sight (VLOS) of the person flying it. This means that the pilot has to be able to see the aircraft with their own eyes at all times. If a pilot can’t keep track of their drone, then they shouldn’t be flying it! VLOS also requires that you stay close enough to take control if needed without losing sight.
  • At least 400 feet above ground level (AGL). You can’t go higher than 400 feet AGL unless you have prior authorization from air traffic control or an airport manager/owner/operator (this is similar to how pilots have certain restrictions on altitude when taking off and landing at an airport).
  • Not over a moving vehicle traveling at speeds greater than 40 miles per hour (mph), not over any person not involved in operating or piloting the aircraft, not over any school, hospital or prison and not within 5 miles of an airport

Can I Fly My Drone At Night In California?

No, you are not allowed to fly your drone at night in California. Drones must be visible from the ground, and if you can’t see it then you also can’t control it.

Plus, since drones are flown within visual line of sight (VLOS) using FPV goggles or LCD screens on a controller, flying in the dark would be very difficult.

The only exception is for drones being used by law enforcement for official duties and only if they have a waiver from the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration).

It’s important to remember that even though some drones come with lights attached already, they aren’t required by law and certainly aren’t enough to keep you safe while flying at night!

Can I Fly My Drone Over Private Property In California?

In California, you may fly your drone over private property with permission from the property owner. You can also fly over private property in a public space such as a park or beach without permission.

You cannot fly your drone over private property without permission if:

  • The person has not given you permission to do so (either verbally or in writing) before attempting to do so; or
  • The person has posted signs on their lawn stating that they do not want drones flying over their home.

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