Skip to main content

Getting a drone this Christmas? Here are the rules you need to know about

  • Author:
  • Updated:

Drones are expected to be one of the most popular Christmas gifts this year but for those getting one, great flying power comes with great responsibility.

According to Scientific American, around a million Americans are expected to unwrap a drone on Christmas Eve or Day, and officials in Minnesota say these new owners need to get acquainted with the relevant regulations.

In anticipation of the flood of drones expected on the market, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is now requiring owners register their crafts with the agency, even if they're just for recreational use. This can be done here.

In Minnesota, meanwhile, anyone registering a drone with the FAA for commercial use must also register with the Minnesota Department of Transportation, and must submit proof of liability insurance in the process.

The Minnesota Department of Commerce has this week provided a list of useful information for drone owners present and future.

  • Recreational drone owners don't need liability insurance for their craft, as it is generally covered under homeowners or renters' insurance subject to a deductible. Additional insurance can be obtained though membership in the Academy of Model Aeronautics.
  • Problems may arise if you cause an accident with your drone. It's your responsibility if it crashes into someone's house, vehicle or injures somebody, so it's worth checking you are fully covered under homeowners/renters insurance.
  • Mind where you fly: Be considerate of people's private property out of courtesy and also for legal and insurance reasons, as your liability may not be covered depending on where you're flying.
  • Drone owners should also be mindful of trespassing and privacy concerns, not just for legal and insurance reasons, but also as a matter of common courtesy. Depending on the circumstances, your homeowners or renters insurance may not cover your liability.

The FAA also has some guidelines for safe, responsible flying, which includes not flying the crafts higher than 400 feet, staying clear of obstacles, keeping it in sight at all times, and keeping it away from manned aircraft and airports (5 miles away).

Not everywhere in Minnesota is welcoming of drones either. In 2013, Saint Bonifacius became what is thought to be the first town in Minnesota to restrict the use of unmanned aerial drones.

An earlier this year, FOX 9 reports the Minnesota State High School League banned camera-equipped drones at its post-season tournaments out of concern for student-athlete and fan safety.

Next Up

Winter scene snow storm snowfall highway driving traffic - Joe Nelson Feb 2022 4

Winter storm warning for Twin Cities: 6+ inches possible

The heaviest snow could move through the Twin Cities.

police lights

Carver man charged after standoff with police in Prior Lake

The man had been fleeing from police when he allegedly broke into a home and the standoff ensued.


41-year-old Sherburne County man killed after crashing car into ditch

The crash occurred Sunday night in Palmer Township.

Screen Shot 2022-11-28 at 4.01.10 PM

Around 200 rescued after ice breaks free on Upper Red Lake

Red Lake — both Upper and Lower — is the largest freshwater lake in the state.

Screen Shot 2022-11-28 at 9.38.30 AM

St. Paul featured on Hallmark Channel's 'Christmas Cam' livestream

Downtown's dazzling display can be viewed from anywhere in the world.


Charges: Drunk driver almost struck Bemidji parade spectators

The man told police he was trying to attend the parade himself.


The SCHEELS Experience

Whether looking for reliable hunting and fishing gear or new clothing and shoes, Eden Prairie SCHEELS is a one-stop shopping experience for the whole family.


Charges: Man fatally shot ex's new partner as he dined at Bloomington restaurant

Criminal charges filed Monday detail an alleged motive in the shooting.


Metallica to perform 2 nights in Minneapolis on 2023-24 World Tour

The heavy metal rock band returns to the state for the first time since 2018.

snow, plow

Tuesday storm to dump plowable snow in Minnesota

Snow should reach the Twin Cities Tuesday morning and fall throughout the day.