Consumers who buy drones will have to register with the government and pay a $5 fee, the Federal Aviation Administration announced Monday.
The move is an attempt by federal regulators to gain some control over the burgeoning drone industry, which is expecting a surge in sales for the holidays. Lawmakers and government officials have been calling for stricter regulations of recreational drones, citing a number of near misses with airplanes.
“Make no mistake: Unmanned aircraft enthusiast are aviators, and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. “Registration gives us an opportunity to work with these users to operate their unmanned aircraft safely.”
The consumer drone industry was expecting a registration requirement but had lobbied against the $5 fee. Michael Drobac, a lobbyist for the firm Akin Gump, which represents a number of drone companies, called the fee a “disappointment” and warned that it will just discourage consumers from registering at all.
“The minute you ask consumers to pay for something of this kind, it creates a deterrent,” Drobac said. “Even though it’s a mandatory registration, the question becomes: What are the enforcement mechanisms? How will consumers get this information?”