Becoming a Small Drone Pilot

To become a pilot you must:

  • Be at least 16 years old
  • Be able to read, speak, write, and understand English (exceptions may be made if the person is unable to meet one of these requirements for a medical reason, such as hearing impairment)
  • Be in a physical and mental condition to safely operate a small UAS
  • Pass the initial aeronautical knowledge exam at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center

Pilot certificate Requirements

  • Must be easily accessible by the remote pilot during all UAS operations
  • Valid for 2 years – certificate holders must pass a recurrent knowledge test every two years

Application Process

1. Schedule an appointment with a Knowledge Testing Center (List of FAA Testing Centers)

2. Pass the initial aeronautical knowledge test – initial knowledge test areas include:

a. Applicable regulations relating to small unmanned aircraft system rating privileges, limitations, and flight operation
b. Airspace classification and operating requirements, and flight restrictions affecting small unmanned aircraft operation
c. Aviation weather sources and effects of weather on small unmanned aircraft performance
d. Small unmanned aircraft loading and performance
e. Emergency procedures
f. Crew resource management
g. Radio communication procedures
h. Determining the performance of small unmanned aircraft
i. Physiological effects of drugs and alcohol
j. Aeronautical decision-making and judgment
k. Airport operations
l. Maintenance and preflight inspection procedures

Sample test questions from the FAA are available here.
An online training course is available at

3. Complete FAA Form 8710-13 for a remote pilot certificate (FAA Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application) using the electronic FAA Integrated Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application system (IACRA)*

a. Register using the FAA IACRA system
b. Login with username and password
c. Click on "Start New Application" and 1) Application Type "Pilot", 2) Certifications "Remote Pilot", 3) Other Path Information, 4) Start Application
d. Follow application prompts
e. 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)
f. Sign the application electronically and submit to the Registry for processing.

4. A confirmation email will be sent when an applicant has completed the TSA security background check. This email will provide instructions for printing a copy of the temporary remote pilot certificate from IACRA.

5. A permanent remote pilot certificate will be sent via mail once all other FAA-internal processing is complete.


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