The FAA’s Drone ID Marking Change

Coming February 23: a new rule from the FAA about displaying registration numbers.  Now, registration numbers must be clearly marked on the outside of the drone.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has posted a rule in the Federal Register requiring small drone owners to display the FAA-issued registration number on an outside surface of the aircraft. Owners and operators may no longer place or write registration numbers in an interior compartment. The rule is effective on February 23. The markings must be in place for any flight after that date.”

To clarify for any new drone owners out there, your FAA registration number is not your Part 107 certification.  Even if you do not plan to pursue your Part 107, your drone must be registered with the FAA.  Even if you have received your Part 107 certification, you must register your drone. (If you have purchased a drone for someone else in your family, please also review the rules for registration here.)

The reasoning for the change seems a bit paranoid, but recent drone incursions like the ones at U.K. airports have led to greater fears that recreational drones may be used as terrorist devices or for other criminal activity. The FAA says security forces now fear that operators may rig the battery compartment to explode when opened to find a registration number.

“…The rule granted some flexibility by permitting the marking to be placed in an enclosed compartment, such as a battery case, if it could be accessed without the use of tools,” says the FAA announcement.

“Subsequently, law enforcement officials and the FAA’s interagency security partners have expressed concerns about the risk a concealed explosive device might pose to first responders upon opening a compartment to find a drone’s registration number. ”

You can find the FAA’s acceptable methods of external marking here.

There appears to be some urgency on the issue, as it has been made an “Interim Final Rule” which means that it will be implemented during the public comment period. “The FAA issues interim final rules when delaying implementation of the rule would be impractical, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest,” says the announcement. “In this case, the agency has determined the importance of mitigating the risk to first responders outweighs the minimal inconvenience this change may impose on small drone owners, and justifies implementation without a prior public comment period.”

“The FAA will consider comments from the public on this Interim Final Rule, and will then review any submissions to determine if the provisions of the ultimate Final Rule should be changed. The 30-day comment period will end on March 15, 2019. To submit comments, go to and search for “RIN 2120-AL32.””


Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
Email Miriam

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