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Drone Laws in New Jersey

drone laws in new jersey

Even if you are following the strict rules and regulations for drones that have been put in place by the FAA, you may not be following any existing laws and/or rules that are set by the state you are flying in.

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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 a 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 Drone U. It’s a great way to learn about drone laws and piloting that’s cheaper than most of its competition, requiring you to pay only for the time it actually takes you to complete your chosen courses. Drone U also has a strong focus on community that will put you in touch with other drone experts who know what they’re talking about. And, perhaps most importantly, they keep their content as up-to-date as possible (something which we will also try to do with this article.)

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

Flying Over New Jersey

flying over new jersey drone laws

New Jersey has a ton of awesome spots that look like they were made for drone activity. Take Lincoln Park, for example, which is Hudson County’s largest park. It has some gorgeous views of the Lower Manhattan area that can be seen across the Hudson River, so you know it’s a definite spot.

Another great spot is Branch Brook Park, where lakes, bridges, and cherry trees create the perfect backdrop for some aerial photography and video recordings. Where higher altitudes are usually king, the lower altitudes here win the war.

For those looking for a go-to city destination to fly, the Schuylkill Banks boardwalk is the closest you’re going to get to Downtown Philadelphia. It’s a legal area to fly in, has some awesome potential for skyline shots, and you won’t get hassled.

The ultimate spot to fly a drone in New Jersey would have to be Palisades Interstate Park. Located half a mile from the New Jersey and New York border, you’ll have over 2500 acres of cliffs, hiking trails, and much more. Don’t forget about the riverfront while you’re there, though!

The Registering Process in New Jersey

the registering process in new jersey

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 3 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 Jersey

proximity to airports in new jersey drone laws

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 Jersey, 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.

Unique Drone Laws in New Jersey

At this time of writing, all of the legal information listed below is deemed as accurate as possible and fully in effect.

New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Division of Parks and Forestry, State Park Service: Policy 2.38

Subject: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Objective: The objective of this policy is to ensure that the use of an unmanned aerial vehicle is addressed in a consistent manner on all lands and waters administered by the Division of Parks and Forestry, State Park Service.

For the purpose of this policy, an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) commonly known as a “drone” or referred to as a Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA), is defined by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) as “an aircraft without a human pilot aboard” and is hereinafter referenced as UAV.

Background: There has been a dramatic increase in the number and use of UAVS in recent years. The increase in the use of these devices has the potential to cause unacceptable impacts such as harming visitors, interfering with emergency operations, causing excessive noise, impacting viewsheds, damaging historic resources and critical infrastructure, posing security risks and disturbing wildlife.

This policy is necessary to maintain public health and safety within all lands and waters administered by the State Park Service and to protect park resources and visitors.

Except for the limited permitted use of fixed-wing model aircraft in several park areas, no other use of aircraft is permitted in NJ State Parks. The use of UAVs on lands and waters administered by the State Park Service is a new use and is not defined in N.J.A.C. 7:2-2.22 (a)(7) as a “remote controlled model plane or other mechanical device”.

Applicability: This policy applies to all State Park Service owned or managed properties.

Policy: The operation of a UAV is hereby specifically prohibited within all lands and waters administered by the State Park Service unless specifically approved by the Assistant Director, State Park Service in accordance with N.J.A.C. 7:2-1.4(b).

Implementation: Search and rescue organizations, fire fighting and law enforcement agencies, other government and first-response agencies may request permission for the scheduled operation of a UAV on lands or waters administered by the State Park Service. Approval may be given for the purposes of training or reconnaissance through the Assistant Director, State Park Service. Accredited Universities may also request permission for the scheduled operation of a UAV for specific research projects with a letter signed by the course instructor on official college letterhead. Requests must be made ninety (90) days prior to the intended date of use through a Special Use Permit (SUP), which can be coordinated through the park office. The Superintendent shall outline the safety zone within which only the persons associated with the UAV may be permitted.

Use of a UAV for public emergency operations by the aforementioned agencies, on lands or waters administered by the State Park Service, will be immediately approved with notification provided to the State Park Service, State Park Police, or NJDEP Trenton Dispatch at 1-877-WARNDEP.

State Park Service, State Park Police, State Forestry Services, and the Division and Fish and Wildlife staff will be approved to utilize a UAV for appropriate official use, through the Office of the Assistant Director.

All requests to launch, land, or operate a UAV on lands or waters administered by the State Park Service will be adequately evaluated as to the appropriateness of the requested activities and whether the use of a UAV will result in unacceptable impacts to park resources and visitors.

The following will also be considered:

Applicability of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and NJ Department of Transportation, Division of Aeronautics and any other applicable regulations for commercial use of a UAV.
Potential for injury or damage to park resources or use that would be contrary to the purposes for which the park was established, use that would cause unacceptable impact to the atmosphere of peace and tranquility maintained in wilderness, natural or historic or historic locations within the park.
Potential for impact to program activities, visitors services, or the operation of public facilities or services provided by State Park Service concessionaires or lessees, or present a clear and present danger to public health and safety.
Potential to result in a significant conflict with other existing uses.

If it is determined that the requested activity is appropriate and compatible with the values and resources of the park, a SUP for launching, land and operating a UAV may be granted. The permit will clearly identify the designated area(s) where the UAV may be operated within the park. The SUP will also contain appropriate terms and conditions to ensure safe operation of a UAV and mitigate any unacceptable impact to the resources.

In addition to the standard SUP conditions included on all permits, the conditions listed on Exhibit A (attached) will also be required.

This policy is effective immediately

Exhibit A
UAV may not disturb or harass wildlife.
UAV may not interfere with official law enforcement, fire or medical services, or other emergency operations
UAV will not be flown in a reckless manner or outside the designated area(s).
Inexperienced UAV operators must be accompanied and assisted by an experienced operator.
Operators must avoid flying directly over people, vessels, vehicles, or structures and must avoid endangering the life and property of others.
UAV must be within visual sight of the operator, with no visual aids authorized, at all times during flight.
Operator must report all accidents immediately. This includes any accident that may have resulted in injury to any person or thing even if only a minor injury.
UAV flights will be restricted to posted park hours of operation.
The use of flammable liquids for fueling a UAV is prohibited.

Ordinance of the Township of Bernards: Ordinance #2328

ORDINANCE #2328
An Ordinance to Amend the Revised General Ordinances of the Township of Bernards Chapter 10 ” Municipal Parks, Playgrounds and Pool,” Section 1 ” Park Regulations” and Section 2 Schedule of Use Rates”
BE IT ORDAINED, by the Township Committee of the Township of Bernards in the County of Somerset that Chapter 10 ” Municipal Parks, Playgrounds and Pool,” Section 1 ” Park Regulations” and Section 2 ” Schedule of Use Rates” be replaced in entirety as follows:

Definitions

Park or Recreation Facility — A park, field, building, open space or other area in the Township which is owned, used or maintained by the Township and is devoted to active or passive recreation.

Private Event — Any event which is conducted, sponsored or permitted by an individual, family or an organized group of persons, where admissions are not opened to the general public.

10-1. 5 Prohibited Conduct

The following conduct and activities are prohibited at any park or recreation facility. Any exceptions are noted. A request to deviate from this list of prohibited conduct may be submitted in the form of a Special Event and Amusement Device Application, which is subject to Township Committee approval.

j. The flying and/or launching of unmanned aircraft by the public, including model or remote control airplanes, helicopters, recreational drones and rockets, is prohibited. This shall not prohibit any federal, state, county or municipal agency, law enforcement agency or emergency services organization from the use of drones and unmanned aircraft for any lawful and authorized purpose pursuant to applicable regulation.

Other Legal Issues With Drones in New Jersey

At this time of writing, the information listed below is written as accurately as possible. The bills and policies are currently underway in the state of New Jersey and are not yet in effect unless stated otherwise.

New Jersey Assembly Bill 874

SYNOPSIS
Permits municipalities to enact ordinance prohibiting operation of drones under certain circumstances.

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel.

An Act concerning unmanned aerial vehicles, supplementing Title 40 of the Revised Statutes, and amending R.S.40:48-1.

Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

1. (New section) a. As used in this act:
“Civilian unmanned aerial vehicle” means an aerial vehicle owned or operated by a private individual or business entity that uses aerodynamic forces to propel the vehicle and does not carry a human operator, and which is capable of flying autonomously or being piloted remotely and conducting surveillance as defined in this section.
“Surveillance” means the act of monitoring, observing, photographing, or recording.
b. A municipality may enact an ordinance prohibiting a person from operating a civilian unmanned aerial vehicle in the flight path of an airplane and within 12 miles of an airport.

STATEMENT
This bill permits municipalities to enact an ordinance prohibiting the operation of civilian unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly referred to as drones, under certain circumstances.
Specifically, under the provisions of this bill, a municipality may enact an ordinance prohibiting a person from operating a drone in the flight path of an airplane and within 12 miles of an airport.
Under the bill, “civilian unmanned aerial vehicle” means an aerial vehicle owned or operated by a private individual or business entity that uses aerodynamic forces to propel the vehicle and does not carry a human operator, and which is capable of flying autonomously or being piloted remotely and conducting surveillance.

New Jersey Assembly Bill 873

SYNOPSIS

Creates fourth degree crime of operating drone equipped with weapon.

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel.

An Act concerning unmanned aerial vehicles and supplementing Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes.

Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

1. a. As used in this section:
“Anti-personnel device” means a firearm as defined in N.J.S.2C:39-1, any prohibited weapon or device under N.J.S.2C:39-3, or any other projectile designed to harm, incapacitate, or otherwise negatively impact a human being.
“Civilian unmanned aerial vehicle” means an aerial vehicle owned or operated by a private individual or business entity that uses aerodynamic forces to propel the vehicle and does not carry a human operator, and which is capable of flying autonomously or being piloted remotely and conducting surveillance as defined in this section.
“Surveillance” means the act of monitoring, observing, photographing, or recording.
b. A person who operates a civilian unmanned aerial vehicle that is equipped with an anti-personnel device shall be guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.

2. This act shall take effect immediately.

STATEMENT
This bill makes it a fourth degree crime to operate a drone that is equipped with a weapon.
Specifically, under the provisions of this bill, a person who operates a civilian unmanned aerial vehicle, commonly referred to as a drone, that is equipped with an anti-personnel device is guilty of a fourth degree crime.
A fourth degree crime is punishable by up to 18 months imprisonment, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
The bill defines “civilian unmanned aerial vehicle” as an aerial vehicle owned or operated by a private individual or business entity that uses aerodynamic forces to propel the vehicle and does not carry a human operator, and which is capable of flying autonomously or being piloted remotely and conducting surveillance.
In addition, under the bill, “anti-personnel device” means a firearm, a prohibited weapon or device, or any other projectile designed to harm, incapacitate, or otherwise negatively impact a human being.

The Banning on Educational Campuses

Let it be known that The Ramapo Indian Hills Regional Board of Education have effectively passed a resolution that bans the unauthorized use of a drone, as well as other remotely-controlled devices, on two of their campuses. These campuses are in Franklin Lakes and Oakland.

Fort Lee, West Milford and East Rutherford have passed similar regulations regarding drone use on their campuses, as well.

The regulations state that drone users, and others who use unmanned aircraft, cannot launch, land, or fly above the grounds of the schools.

FAQ on New Jersey 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.

sUAS Service Agreement

Drone Laws in New Jersey

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!

Mike is an online entrepreneur and digital marketing specialist who also loves flying drones. He has owned and managed Dronethusiast since 2015 and enjoys writing reviews and analyzing different topics in the fast moving Drone technology space. Along with the editorial team at Dronethusiast Mike spends hundreds of hours each year analyzing and studying different drones and their tech specs to help consumers find the best products for their needs. Contact Mike by using the Dronethusiast.com Contact page or reach out at mike@dronethusiast.com.

12 comments

  1. In Ocean Township, is it allowed to fly land and takeoff unmanned aerial vehicles on school properties.

  2. Wondering about National Parks. Many aren’t aware that a SIGNIFICANT portion of the state is considered national park. There have been many publicized cases of drone flying being prosecuted in Yellowstone and other more famous parks. In New Jersey, Almost the entire border, along the entire shoreline, the Delaware River gap is considered a national park. In the southern half, the Pinelands is the core of the middle South Jersey wilderness. Every other area is densely populated and loaded with airports.
    Technically… it makes it seem drones are illegal in 90% of the state. Crazy?

  3. yea I was thinking just that, guess I’ll cross the river and go to PA

  4. I really would like to get some video of the Delaware River from above. I see some spots around Trenton but North you have Washington Crossing (State Park) and then it looks like some open area and then more north Delaware Gap (National Park). I don’t get how the NJ state park drone rules apply if you go on to the PA side. What sites do you use to see legal flying zones? I have used http://statedronelaw.com/state/new-jersey/ but this doesn’t tell you about state park areas.

  5. Isnt the rules between .55lbs and 55lbs?

  6. Ive flown big kites as high as i could and even have the cops shine the spot light because it was getting dark but to fly a drone tree height i had to bother a busy airport controller which got kind of bent out of shape cause i called for promission to fly. Really…it dont make sense.. its like they put laws on purpose so u cant fly..

  7. Where can i fly?

  8. What is the date of this article?? How do I know that this info is not outdated? Thanks.

  9. Can someone who owns a drone have the right to zoom in your residence to see what you are doing? Thought that is envadence of your privatice.

  10. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

    It is my understanding that states cannot restrict airspace; only the FAA controls the airspace. So, unless the FAA has designated a NO FLY zone, you can fly OVER any state property as long as you are STANDING OUTSIDE the perimeter of the restricted land while taking off, landing and controlling the sUAS. Of course you must comply with all FAA sUAS regulations and guidelines, including maintaining visual contact with the aircraft. And if you crash on restricted state land you could be subject to penalties.

    The problem is that many police officers and even judges are not aware of this distinction. You could wind up spending a great deal of time, effort and money proving your right to fly over state land.

    With respect to privacy, the situation is muddled. Someone can’t peep on you through your windows or doors, unless you would be readily visible from a public location. But they can fly over your home and creep on your sunbathing daughter. Privacy law has not caught up with technology.

  11. States can’t restrict airspace. But they can restrict ground space – which is why all their laws say “you cannot launch from state park property OR fly over it…” THe OR doesn’t really matter. In this state they’d tax and fine your BREATH if they could.

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