Do I Need A Pilot License To Sell Drone Footage?

A pilot license is required to operate a drone for commercial purposes. But that doesn’t mean you need to be a pilot to sell drone footage or aerial photos.

What Is A Pilot License?

A pilot license is an authorization issued by a government agency that allows an individual to fly an aircraft. A pilot’s license typically has several different ratings, which designate the types of aircraft that the holder is allowed to operate and the classes of airspace in which they can fly.

Do I Need A Pilot License To Sell Drone Footage?
Do I Need A Pilot License To Sell Drone Footage?

A pilot license is a document that allows a person to act as a pilot-in-command of an aircraft. The license also specifies which category and class of aircraft the holder is licensed to operate. The license, which is issued by a government agency, must be carried on board the aircraft at all times when it is in use.

What Is A Drone License?

A drone license is a document issued by the government that allows you to fly your drone legally.

You need a drone license if you want to fly your drone for any commercial purposes, such as photography or videography. You also need one if you plan on flying your drone over people and property.

A drone license is essentially an authorization from the government that allows you to operate a drone commercially or for recreational purposes. This license will allow you to fly your drone legally without breaking any rules or laws set by the government.

There are many different kinds of licenses available, depending on what kind of flying you want to do with your drone. For example, if you want to fly your drone for recreational purposes then all you need is an RPA pilot certificate which allows you to fly up to 250 feet high and away from populated areas (with exceptions).

However, if you want to use your drone commercially then you should get another license called Remote Pilot in Command (RPIC) which gives you more freedom about flying height and distance from populated areas (again with exceptions).

What Is The Difference Between A Remote Pilot Certificate And A Drone License?

The difference between a remote pilot certificate and a drone license is that the remote pilot certificate is an FAA certification. The remote pilot certificate authorizes the holder to control unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in non-segregated airspace below 400 feet AGL.

The remote pilot certificate is issued under Section 44807 of Title 49 of the United States Code (49 U.S.C.). It is not required for commercial operations but is highly recommended as it allows you to use more types of aircraft and allows you to fly during the day and at night, beyond your visual line of sight (BVLOS), and more than one UAS at once.

The drone license is issued by states or localities that have chosen not to follow federal regulations regarding unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). These licenses are used by operators who wish to fly their UAS commercially within their state or local area.

A remote pilot certificate is issued by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and allows you to operate an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) by all applicable regulations. It’s similar to a driver’s license and allows you to operate your drone under certain conditions (i.e., within line of sight). A remote pilot certificate does not permit you to fly at night or out of the visual sight of the UAS operator.

A full authorization — or “certificate” — allows operators of commercial drones to fly their machines beyond the line of sight, at night, or while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It also lets them use drones weighing up to 55 pounds in some cases.

A remote pilot certificate is a document that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issues to certify that you are qualified to operate certain unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), also known as drones. A drone license is a document issued by the FAA allowing you to operate a specific UAS under specific conditions.

The remote pilot certificate is a prerequisite for obtaining a drone license. The application process for each type of document differs slightly, but both require an FAA Knowledge Test and an FAA Practical Test.

If you’re looking to become a commercial drone pilot, you’ll need both documents before you can get started with your business venture.

Do I Need A Pilot License To Sell Drone Footage?

Yes, if you’re selling commercial drone footage, you will need a pilot license.

The FAA defines a commercial drone operator as someone who “sells services related to the use of an unmanned aircraft.” With that in mind, if you’re flying a drone for any sort of business or even just for personal gain (photography for example), you’ll need to get your Remote Pilot Certification.

If you’re just going to be flying around your property and not selling your footage or services, then no, you don’t need a pilot license.

You can still sell the films you shoot using drones without a pilot license, but you will need to get permission from the FAA at least 24 hours in advance.

The easiest way is to visit the FAA website and complete an online “UAS/Drone Registration” form. The process takes 10 minutes or less, and once it’s done, you’ll receive an email confirmation with your registration number. You can always register again if you ever lose your number — just enter your email address and last name on the registration page and click “Re-Register” at the bottom of the screen.

How To Get a Drone License

To fly your drone under the FAA’s Small UAS Rule (Part 107), you must obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate from the FAA. This certificate demonstrates that you understand the regulations, operating requirements, and procedures for safely flying drones.


To become a pilot you must:

  • Be at least 16 years old
  • possess the ability to read, write, speak, and comprehend English
  • Be in a state of mind and body that will allow you to fly a drone safely.
  • Pass the “Unmanned Aircraft General – Small (UAG)” first aeronautical knowledge exam.

Requirements for Remote Pilot Certificate:

  • During all UAS operations, it must be simple for the remote pilot to access.
  • To keep their aeronautical knowledge current, certificate holders must complete an online recurrent training every 24 calendar months.

Navigating the Process to Become a Drone Pilot:

Step 1: Before signing up for a knowledge test, you must first obtain an FAA Tracking Number (FTN) by setting up a profile in the Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (IACRA).

Step 2: Make an appointment with a Knowledge Testing Center that has received FAA approval. Bring a valid photo ID from the government with you to the test.

Step 3: Pass the “Unmanned Aircraft General – Small (UAG)” initial aeronautical knowledge test. Topics covered on knowledge tests include:

  • Applicable regulations relating to small unmanned aircraft system rating privileges, limitations, and flight operation
  • Airspace classification and operating requirements, and flight restrictions affecting small unmanned aircraft operation
  • Aviation weather sources and effects of weather on small unmanned aircraft performance
  • Small unmanned aircraft loading and performance
  • Emergency procedures
  • Crew resource management
  • Radio communication procedures
  • Determining the performance of small unmanned aircraft
  • Physiological effects of drugs and alcohol
  • Aeronautical decision-making and judgment
  • Airport operations
  • Maintenance and preflight inspection procedures
  • Operation at night

Step 4: Utilizing the computerized FAA Integrated Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application system (IACRA), complete FAA Form 8710-13 for a remote pilot certificate (FAA Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application).

  1. Login with username and password
  2. Click on “Start New Application” and 1) Application Type “Pilot”, 2) Certifications “Remote Pilot”, 3) Other Path Information, 4) Start Application
  3. Follow application prompts
  4. When prompted, enter the 17-digit Knowledge Test Exam ID (Note: it may take up to 48 hours from the test date for the knowledge test to appear in IACRA)
  5. Sign the application electronically and submit it for processing.

Step 5: After a candidate has completed the TSA security background check, a confirmation email will be provided. The temporary remote pilot certificate from IACRA can be printed using the instructions in this email.

Step 6: When all internal FAA processing is finished, a permanent remote pilot certificate will be mailed out.

Step 7: Always carry your Remote Pilot Certificate with you when operating your UAS.


It’s always important to know the laws within the country you are traveling in. The FAA guidelines only apply to those Americans flying within the United States. If you are traveling abroad and planning on using your drone to make money, you need to check with flight control in that country to see if you need a license before taking a flight.

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