Drones are consistently on the rise, so it’s important to educate yourself on the law, rules, and regulations that come with flying a drone in the state of New York.

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This article will give a brief overview of the laws in your state, but we can’t keep cover all the minutae in only two thousand words. That’s why we highly recommend that you do some research on your own time and, ideally, enroll in a professional course if you’re actually looking to get certified. Though there’s lots of options for learning more about drone laws, we highly recommend the#1 Rated Professional Course: Drone Pilot Ground School. Get $50 Off as a Dronethusiast reader, just click the link and sign up. It’s a great way to learn about drone laws and piloting that’s cheaper than most of its competition, you can purchase it once and own it forever and they’re constantly updating their professional training.

All that said, let’s move on to the important stuff.

Flying Over New York

Even though there are a lot of cities in the state of New York that have banned the use of drones, which we will touch more on further down, there are still some great places to fly!

Model Aircraft Fields

New York City specifically has a number of Model Aircraft Fields that are legal to fly in. Other than the areas listed below, you are not allowed to fly a drone anywhere else in the city:

  • Calvert Vaux
  • Marine Park
  • Flushing Meadows Corona Park
  • Forest Park
  • La Tourette Park (Greenbelt)

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Flying anywhere else in the state of New York, and not just in New York City, should be cleared with local law to ensure that you will not be breaking any laws, rules, or regulations.

State Parks

It’s currently unclear whether or not you can obtain a permit to fly a drone in the state parks of New York. Calling ahead and inquiring about obtaining a permit is up to you, and is highly recommended before making the trip to any of them.

At this time of writing, the only legal areas to fly a drone in the entire state of New York sit in New York City. If you have found a location elsewhere in the state, please let us know.


The Registering Process in New York


The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires that all Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) owners follow strict regulations and laws. You will need to file your name, home address and your email address as a start.


From there, you will receive a Certificate of Aircraft Registration and Proof of Ownership. These will include an identification number for your aircraft. You must have this number displayed on your drone at all times. The number will be valid for up to three years.

All aircraft that weighs more than 0.55 pounds, or 250 grams, and less than 55 pounds, or 25 kilograms, must be registered. This also includes any added payloads, such as an onboard camera.

You must be at least 13-years-old in order to register and, effective December 21st, 2015, all newly purchased or made drones must be registered before their first flight. You are able to register through a paper-based process, but you can also do so online by clicking here.

Proximity to Airports in New York

As a general rule of thumb, and in accordance with the law from the FAA, you may not fly within a 5-mile radius of any airport. In 2012 the FAA enacted the Modernization and Reauthorization Act which requires hobbyist drone operators, meaning residential, to contact air traffic control and/or airport management if they are operating within a 5-mile radius of any local airport.


This is enacted nationwide, not only in New York, under Part 101 of the Act, being Special Rule for Model Aircraft, to ensure that drone operations under unsafe conditions are disapproved before the drone can be launched.

Regardless of the local airport you will be flying near, and possibly breaching airspace, you will need to contact either the airport air traffic control tower or the airport operator.

You will need to establish an agreed-upon operating procedure with airport air traffic or the airport operator and answer a couple of questions. For example, questions relating to how long you are going to be flying for.

However, you should only be flying in the designed, permitted airspace within the locations you are legally able to fly a drone within the limits of New York. If none of the designated flying areas apply to the airport proximity, you may disregard this section completely.

Unique Drone Laws in New York

The information listed for you below is in effect and listed as accurately as possible at this time of writing.

Article 28, Part 3, 1115

Exemptions from sales and use taxes. (a) Receipts from the following shall be exempt from the tax on retail sales imposed under subdivision (a) of section eleven hundred five and the compensating use tax imposed under section eleven hundred ten:

(21-a) General aviation aircraft, and machinery or equipment to be installed on such aircraft. For purposes of this subdivision, “general aviation aircraft” means an aircraft that is used in civil aviation, that is not a commercial aircraft as defined in paragraph seventeen of subdivision (b) of section eleven hundred one of this article, military aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicle or drone.

Chapter 99. Peace and Good Order. Article II. Unlawful Trespass. 99-3. Prohibited Activities. Orchard Park, NY.

D. Operation of unmanned aircraft/unmanned aircraft system. [Added 7-15-2015 by L.L. No. 5-2015]

It shall be unlawful for any person to operate an unmanned aircraft or unmanned aircraft system upon or in the airspace within one mile of an open-air event in the Town of Orchard Park wherein more than 200 individuals could gather for an organized event, including, but not limited to, parades, concerts, street dances, festivals, art shows, sporting events and recreational events.

It shall be unlawful for any person to operate an unmanned aircraft or unmanned aircraft system upon or in the airspace within three miles of the Ralph Wilson Stadium Complex on the day of any event held at the Ralph Wilson Stadium Complex or four hours prior to and two hours after any event held at the Ralph Wilson Stadium Complex.

Definitions. As used in this section, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:


A device that is intended to navigate in the air without an onboard pilot; and

(b) An aircraft that is operated without the possibility of human intervention from within or on the aircraft.

(c) Unmanned aircraft are also referred to as “drones.”


All of the approximately 197.65 acre parcel of land situated in the Town of Orchard Park, New York, locally known as One Bills Drive, inclusive of Ralph Wilson Stadium, the ADPRO SPORTS Training Center, the Fieldhouse, parking lots, entrances, walkways and practice fields.


An unmanned aircraft and associated elements (including communications links and the components that control the unmanned aircraft) that are required for the pilot-in-command to operate safely and efficiently in the national airspace system.

Exceptions: express written permission required. The use of an unmanned aircraft or unmanned aircraft system is permitted pursuant to written permission issued by the Town of Orchard Park. This permission, when issued, will be subject to all applicable Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations and shall designate the boundaries of the event an operation of such unmanned aircraft or unmanned aircraft system.

Violations. This article shall be punishable by a maximum fine of $250 or by imprisonment of not more than 15 days or both.

Other Legal Issues With Drones in New York

The information listed for you below are yet to come in effect and are listed as accurately as possible. Everything within this section, at this time of writing, are bills and laws that have been proposed and/or newly introduced and are being pushed forward.

New York Assembly Bill A01670

AN ACT to amend the penal law, in relation to unlawful use of a drone

The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assembly, do enact as follows:

Section 1. Section 240.00 of the penal law is amended by adding three
new subdivisions 7, 8 and 9 to read as follows:

“Drone” means an unmanned aircraft which is operated remotely without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the aircraft.

“Restricted airspace” means any airspace over the property of a correctional facility as defined in section forty of the correction law or airspace within five miles of an airport.

“Personal use” means the operation of a drone solely for the purpose of pleasure or recreation.

The penal law is amended by adding a new section 240.80 to read as follows:

240.80 Unlawful use of a drone.

A person is guilty of unlawful use of a drone when during the personal use of such drone, except as otherwise provided by federal law, he or she knowingly operates a drone:

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1. more than four hundred feet above ground level; or
2. weighing more than ten pounds; or
3. without a visual line of sight of such aircraft; or
4. within a restricted airspace; or
5. in a reckless manner wherein such operation creates a risk of harm to the public; or
6. with the intent to harass or annoy an individual or individuals; or
7. below one hundred feet above ground level on private property with-
out the owner’s consent.

EXPLANATION–Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
[ ] is old law to be omitted.
LBD00380-01-7 A. 16702

Unlawful use of a drone is a violation.

This act shall take effect on the first of November next succeeding the date upon which it shall have become a law.

Potential DEC Regulations

Though there are no solid regulations or public comment from the Department of Environmental Conservation, they are currently seeking public input on the subject of determining whether or not public drone use will be permitted on state land.

The potential regulations and policies are being introduced to the public within the next couple of months ahead, mostly due to the concern about using a drone where lands have been classified as wilderness. This includes Catskill and Adirondack parks, for example, which are classified as canoe and primitive.

Though the FAA has regulations that control the use of recreational drones, the DEC currently holds jurisdiction over launching and landing a drone on land owned by the state.

This means that the DEC is able to issue tickets for certain instances, such as if a person brings their drone into the Adirondack wilderness and launches it from there. However, if they have launched it elsewhere, and are simply flying over the wilderness area, there is very little that the DEC can actually do.

With all of this in mind, the DEC is going to be releasing a firm public comment and some potential regulations on the subject of recreational drones within the next couple of months.

The DEC do not currently have any set regulations on recreational drones, however, but they do have a ban on motors within the majority of the forest preserves. Because drones have been considered as being motorized equipment, this is why you can be ticketed for launching one.

New York State Senate S2125


TITLE OF BILL : An act to amend the correction law, in relation to
civilian drone use near a correctional facility


To prohibit civilian drone use within one thousand feet of a
correctional facility.


Section 1 amends the correction law by adding a new section 625
prohibiting drone use within 1000 feet of a correctional facility or a
local correctional facility in this state. This section also defines
the term drone pursuant to this provision and provides penalties for
violating this law.

This prohibition shall not apply to the operation of a drone by any
person or entity that the federal aviation administration has
authorized to operate a drone from commercial purpose, where the drone
is operated in a manner that complies with that authorization.

FAQ on New York Law and Drones

If you do not see your question, or an answer to it, listed below, feel free to get in touch with us and we’ll gladly give you one.

Is a drone/UAS considered the same as a model aircraft?

The United States Congress has defined and concluded that a model aircraft is only considered a drone or a UAS when the following points are met:

– It’s flown for recreational purposes or as a hobby and not for any business or commercial reasons
– It’s flown within visible distance, meaning being able to see it at all times, of the individual operating it
– It’s capable of sustaining flight within the atmosphere, meaning that it can fly

If your model aircraft, regardless of whether or not you acquired it pre-built or built it yourself, meets the above points to your knowledge, it’s considered a drone/UAS.

What is the Small UAS Rule?

The Small UAS Rule requires those who have unmanned aircraft systems, or UAS, that weigh less than 55 pounds, payload included, to register their aircraft with the FAA. This only applies to recreational or hobby fliers and not commercial drone use, however.

Is the FAA’s Small UAS Rule still in effect?

Yes, it has been in effect from August 29th of 2016 and is still in effect at this time of writing.

Do I have to carry my Certificate of Aircraft Registration while flying my UAS at all times?

Yes, you must have the registration certificate from the FAA at all times during flight operation. In accordance with federal law, all UAS operators must show their certificate of registration to any local, state, or federal law enforcement officer when they are asked to do so.

What do I do for registration if my UAS is over the 55-pound limit?

If your UAS weighs more than 55 pounds, including payload, you will need to register it by clicking here.

Drone Laws in New York

Knowing the laws, regulations, restrictions, etc., regarding drones in your state is extremely important. Remember to educate yourself, follow the rules, fly safely and responsibly, and have fun!

sUAS Service Agreement

There are 23 comments:

  • nancy at 11:23 am

    I have been putting up with constant harassment by my neighbor after I told him to stay off my property.now he has a drone and is flying it after dark and slamming into my front windows.what can I do? I am sure it is not registered.additionally, I am a single elderly woman who lives alone.

    • roy at 1:40 pm

      Sorry to hear that you have such an unruly neighbor. If they are not stopping after you asked them to, you’ll have to involve local law enforcement. It does indeed sound like the person is violating a few drone laws, the local law enforcement should be able to take action.

    • Dani Anderson at 9:31 pm

      Slamming it into your windows?? As a pilot, I can assure you that contact with a solid surface, such as a window pane WILL bring a drone down. They are not capable of doing such without sustaining damage to the rotors, or to the craft itself.

  • Faraz at 5:35 am

    Im a part 107 certified drone pilot.
    One of my clients have their office in wall street and need aerial footage of their building. The flight operation can be done from the building roof.
    The location is outside the 5mile radius of airport and does not shows as restricted zone on the b4u fly.
    Am i permitted to do flight operations from roof or require any oermit or approval for the flight operations considering its manhattan (newyork city)

    • Brian Dampier at 3:03 am

      You say you are part 107 certified and yet you do not mention that you essentially would be operating a drone over people’s heads. ( I lived in NYC for 4 years and there is just about no spot in Manhattan where people are not walking. AND let’s not even mention over the top of traffic. You would need waivers for those rules. BUT All of NYC is treated as class B airspace and that is SURFACE to the ceiling. In other words, There is no class B over Class C or D airspaces. If you do not understand what I am saying, you should sell your gear and get out of the business before you find yourself in violation of federal laws which will at the very least cost you a lot of money to pay off fines, the loss of your drone gear, and, if you really do have a part 107, you may find it suspended or revoked.

      • Kevin Coughlin at 1:44 am

        Brian, while you point out a lot of great points of the hazards of operating in NYC – Flight over people who are ALWAYS on the streets, 24/7, and the constant traffic, Not ALL of New York City is indeed part of the Class Bravo surface area. Case in Point, Wall Street is outside of the New York Class B surface area. It is, in fact, Class G uncontrolled airspace. The Class B does not begin until over 1,100 feet MSL. With that said, it’s still not a wise idea just fly Willy-nilly. For the reasons mentioned, plus the immense amount of magnetic interfere with all f the concrete, metal rebar, and steel. What can possibly go wrong!! In short, stay the hell out of Lower Manhattan with your drone. It’s just a bad idea and will create more nuisance laws at a time when the industry is trying to grow.

  • TBM at 5:46 pm

    B4UFly clearly shows all of Manhattan and the area all the way to Liberty State Park being restricted from UAS flight. I expect you’ll need specific permission to fly.

  • Chazz at 6:38 pm

    Does anyone know if there is procedure to obtain a filming permit to use a drone in NYC?

    • Robert Manning at 4:39 am

      You have to contact the FAA and request a waiver to fly in NYC.

      • John at 12:33 pm

        This is incorrect.

        The FAA makes the rules once the craft is in the air, but NYC makes the rules of the ground (takeoff, landing, operation). NYC would be the ones to contact, and there’s no process they have made available to get such a permit, aside from operating from one of those specific locations.

        So, no matter what the FAA says once you get it up in the air (weight, airspace, etc.), none of that matters until it actually takes off. NYC says “no” to that. They even tell people to “Call 911” if they see one.

        Until this 1948 law is repealed or changed, ANYONE operating in NYC, outside of one of those few specific airfields, is in violation of NYC law, no matter what the FAA says about the air. Hope this changes soon.

  • Jaki at 1:58 am

    We are visiting NYC at the end of March, and my son really wants to fly his drone. Since we’re limited to the 5 parks listed, will we still need to register it before we go? Not sure how strict they are even in the limited locations.

  • Fred at 2:11 pm

    Once again NYC has become the leader in restrictions of casual usage. New york city,what a joke.

    • Lou Frank at 3:53 am

      NYC Really sucks when trying to fly a drone. Bought my son a drone and its been impossible if not the thought we have to look over our shoulder we dont get approached by a Police officer. 1500.00 for a drone. and now limited of use. and BTW my son is a superb drone flyer.

    • Lou Frank at 7:06 pm

      NYC has been the pain of every enthusiast drone hobbyist. What a bunch of corrupted politicians all for the sake of a dollar.

  • Johan at 1:33 am

    How does, for instance, Casey Neistat and others do when they fly drones downtown NY and publish on Youtube? I doubt they do all the paperwork for a 5-30 second VLOG-shoot… ?

  • Pro Aviator at 4:03 pm

    NYC sucks for more reasons than drone flying. In fact, NY in general sucks except for the upstate scenery. But I digress…

    • yaes at 12:16 am

      good dude

    • Castaway at 9:37 pm

      GWB to palisades north, there are scenic lookout exits off of the palisades cliffs. Great views of the city, no humans or traffic to fly over, and if you crash, your rig falls into the Hudson River. Lincoln Park off lower Manhattan (in NJ) is also a good spot for views of lower Manhattan. Anyone flying directly over Manhattan is asking for trouble it’s a huge city and looks great from every angle. As a city employee, I got a part 107 to operate through my department. We don’t even have that juice to get waivers (our drone is tethered goes up/down-yaw L/R). Launch from Jersey.

  • scott at 7:48 pm

    Casey Neistat did most of his drone flying long before drones were popular and before laws were specifically in place. On top of that, he just broke the law. Fine when nothing happens, bad if you hurt someone adn are caught.

  • WHR at 10:53 pm

    I just bought a small drone and live in queens NY on the outskirts of Long Island. After reading and reading I’m now not even sure it’s a drone or what the rules are regarding flying it outside. It is a Tello and falls well below the .55 pound requirement for registration. Its maximum range From the App is 300 feet before it auto-lands. I would love to take it to my local park in the morning when there are not many people and fly it around below the tree lines. Can anyone guide me on the practicality, legality and consequences of doing so?

  • Chelsea at 12:30 am

    I live in a very small suburb in NY and am amazed that I see 3 to 8 drones daily here. They are high-tech and have to be commercially owned. Is there a way to find out who is flying them or is there a list of registered drones I can search by area/town?

  • Gerald at 6:43 pm

    Hi just had a question i have had a drone flying rather low maybe 7-8 feet high it’s always around dusk for the past couple days and it circles the buildings on my property and my house that’s how i noticed it when i opened my screen door and almost hit the thing. is there anything i can do? I live in upstate NY

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