What types of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) require registration?

Currently, all UAS flown for commercial, civil (non-governmental) purposes must be registered with and authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). All UAS flown for public (governmental) purposes must also be authorized by the FAA. And soon, it is likely that almost all UAS flown for recreational purposes will require registration with the FAA.

How do I register?

Commercial drone operators can either apply for a civil Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) by filing a petition for a Section 333 exemption or apply for a Special Airworthiness Certificate. Governmental drone operators work with the FAA to secure a public COA. Although there is currently no system in place, it is anticipated that recreational drone operators will be required to register their aircraft (even those weighing as little as half a pound) by the end of 2015. A registration task force presented its recommendations to the FAA last Saturday, and it is rumored that recreational operators will only need to complete an online registration form and pay a small fee. The FAA is striving to provide a streamlined process that most recreational UAS operators will be able to complete without professional assistance.