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

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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.

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