Consumer Reports: So you got a drone - now what?

Consumer Reports says if you're planning to buy a drone, it's important to learn the rules. (Image credit: Consumer Reports)

You finally got that drone you've wanted. But you still have so many questions, like what are the laws and regulations?

For a long time, drones were used mostly by professional photographers and flying enthusiasts. But lower priced, user-friendly models are flooding the market, allowing consumers to get in on the action. That sales growth has raised safety concerns as more drones take to the skies. Consumer Reports says if you're planning to buy a drone, it's important to learn the rules.

You don't need a license to fly a drone, as long as you're flying for fun and you're not being paid to do it. But, you do have to register a drone if it weighs more than a half pound and less than 55 pounds. You need to go the FAA's website and register there. It only takes a few minutes to do. It costs $5, and it's good for 3 years.

When it comes to where you can fly the drone, there are a few clear cut restrictions. You can't fly it higher than 400 feet, and it must be in your line of sight at all times. The FAA insists that you stay away from prisons, power plants, government buildings and military bases, airports, stadiums and national parks.

Consumer Reports recommends starting with an inexpensive toy drone before investing in a more expensive one. The outdoor model that tops its first drone ratings is DJI's $900 Mavic Pro. It's top-rated lightweight selfie drone is the $400 DJI Spark.

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2018 Consumer Reports, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit

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