A drone certificate is your ticket to the skies. You can fly freely (following drone guidelines, of course) and use your drone as an income source.
However, first-time aspiring pilots often aren’t sure what the protocol entails for obtaining their Remote Pilot Certificate or Part 107 license.
This detailed guide will take you through every step required to test your way to an FAA pilot’s license so you can register to take your test and soon become an officially licensed pilot.
What is a drone license?
Drone laws exist globally to promote safer skies for all. It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about Japan, the United States, Canada, or the Caribbean. Drone licenses are a worldwide requirement.
A drone license goes by many names. In the United States, it’s known as the Part 107 license, named after the FAA exam you must pass to earn the license. The official name is the Remote Pilot Certificate.
This license permits pilots to operate their drones according to specific parameters. For example, the Remote Pilot Certificate is the FAA’s commercial drone license, so those interested in using their drones to generate income must have this.
The FAA also has a hobbyist license known as the TRUST certificate. If you have a TRUST certificate, you can fly your drone in many of the same places as a commercial pilot but cannot use your drone to make money.
Who needs a drone license?
This question has a very easy answer – all drone pilots.
You only have to refer to the section above to realize that a commercial pilot will undergo different steps on the road to a drone license than a hobbyist, but both parties still require a license.
The skies would be a much more chaotic place if anyone could pick up a drone and fly it without a license. The FAA requires these certificates to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak.
How to get a drone license – Your step-by-step guide
You know you need a drone license, but how do you get one? Here are all the steps.
Check the eligibility criteria
The FAA requires first-time pilots aspiring to take the Part 107 exam to meet a short but strict list of criteria. For example, you can’t become a licensed pilot until age 16. You’ll have to keep flying with a supervised, licensed pilot until then.
You must be in sound mental and physical condition, and the FAA expects full English comprehension. That means you can understand, speak, write, and read the language.
Make an account on IACRA
Next, you need an IACRA account. IACRA is short for Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application. It’s an FAA rating and certification application website that ensures you meet the policy and regulatory requirements under the FAA.
In layman’s terms, you’ll see important information on your account, like your testing ID and your Part 107 exam score when you take it.
How do you register? Visit the IACRA website here, and in the upper right corner, click the link that says Register.
Check off the box marked applicant, then choose your instructors, certifying officers, and admin as appropriate. Agree to the IACRA terms of service and click the Continue button.
Next, select your personal information (name, birthday, gender, and email address), answer two security questions, and create a unique login and password.
First-time pilots can skip the sections asking for an airman certificate number and the affiliated air operators/schools.
Get your FTN
Log into your newly created IACRA account, as you need it for your FAA Tracking Number or FTN. You can’t register for the Part 107 exam without an FTN.
First-time pilots will receive an FTN after registering on the IACRA website. Your FTN stays with you, so if you decide to renew your Part 107 license later, you will not need another FTN.
Your FTN information is always available in your IACRA account if you forget or misplace it.
Make an account on PSI
The FAA has a series of Knowledge Testing Centers nationwide that administer the Part 107 exam. You can find the nearest one by signing up for an account on PSI.
PSI is a test-providing service that works across various industries. The service has been associated with the FAA since early 2023.
You can create a PSI account by visiting here and clicking the Create an Account button. You must first input your FTN and first and last name. Then you can create a unique username and password. You must also answer a security question.
Enroll for the Part 107 exam
Once you receive your email confirmation, log into your PSI account and browse Knowledge Testing Centers. There are testing centers in all 50 states, with more than 800 facilities.
When you find the one nearest you, select a date and time to take your Part 107 exam.
Study for the test
You can now add your test day to the calendar. Study as much as you can between now and then to be in the best position to pass the exam.
The Part 107 exam, also known as the Unmanned Aircraft General – Small (UAG), is a 60-question, multiple-choice test. You must know a lot about current FAA drone laws to score high enough to earn your license.
You could do independent study, using resources like the FAA’s free test questions . Those resources are a good starting point but don’t always guarantee a passing grade.
We strongly recommend you register for a Part 107 online test prep course.
The link above will take you to our top 10 recommended Part 107 prep courses. Each is an online-exclusive course, so you can study from the comfort of your home (or office, or wherever you get the time to study).
To be clear, these courses all cost money. However, they’re available at different price points, so whether you can only afford to spend around $50 or several hundred, you can enroll in an online test prep course.
These courses promise to train you in everything you need to know to pass the Part 107 exam in about 15 hours. They have very high pass rates into the 90th percentile, and most schools have a money-back guarantee for your peace of mind.
In most cases, you can receive back the full cost of the course plus what you paid to take the FAA exam. You can use that money toward your second test attempt.
You should feel readier than ever to pass the Part 107 exam between lesson materials and practice exams.
Take the Part 107 exam
It’s test day.
You must have a government-issued photo ID to get into the Knowledge Testing Center, so have that ready to go. Leave with plenty of time to spare, and if you have a few extra minutes, review your test materials one more time.
You’ll have two and a half hours to complete the exam. That should give you adequate time to answer all 60 multiple-choice questions. You certainly don’t have to rush but try to answer all the questions.
Pass the Part 107 exam
You’ve officially completed the Part 107 exam. No matter how well you did, you can at least say you have that experience under your belt.
You must have answered 70 percent of the questions correctly to pass, which means getting 18 answers wrong max.
You won’t know if you passed the Part 107 exam immediately. It can take up to three weeks for your test results to appear in your IACRA profile, so we recommend sitting tight and occupying your time so you don’t obsess.
It can be immensely disappointing if you don’t pass, but you can register to take the test again 14 days from the first exam date. You will already have your FTN, which expedites the process.
Don’t be discouraged. The second time is the charm for many test takers.
Request your license
You’ve passed the FAA exam. You can now receive your Remote Pilot Certificate, but you’ll first have to complete Form 8710-13 to do it.
You can find this FAA form on the IACRA website. This form sends your test results to the FAA. The organization will verify your identity, double-check your test results, and do a quick background check.
If you pass the above, you will receive an email with a printable version of your Part 107 license. The FAA will send you the official license in the mail several weeks after concluding its internal processing.
You can print the license you receive from the FAA and use it on your future drone adventures. When your mailed copy arrives, you can discontinue carrying the printed version.
Already have a Part 61 license? Here’s how to get your drone certificate
Perhaps you already have an FAA-issued license, such as a Part 61 certificate. However, you don’t have a Part 107 license, and you’d like to change that.
The FAA requires you to go through different steps. Here’s an overview.
Meet the required eligibility criteria
Before you can register to take the Part 107 exam, you must have at least one flight review within the last 24 months. You must also be a current Part 71 license holder per 14 CFR rules.
Create a FAASTeam account
Navigate to the FAA Safety Team or FAASTeam website here.
Click the Create an Account link, input and confirm your email address, and answer whether you currently hold an Airman Certificate. You can then continue the registration.
Guest logins are also available, but we recommend registering on the FAASTeam website.
Take an online training course
Log into FAASTeam and enroll for the Part 107 Small UAS Initial – Part 61 Pilots training. This course will teach you everything required to become an FAA-licensed drone pilot.
Create or log into IACRA
If you have an existing IACRA account, log in as you conclude the training course. You can also register for an IACRA account following the instructions from earlier in this guide.
Fill out form 8170-13
Your IACRA account should have a record of your drone license training. You can complete Form 8170-13 just as a Part 107 license holder would.
Validate your identity
Print out the completed form, as you’ll need it as part of the identification verification process. You must also have a photo ID and your latest flight review.
Where can you bring it? To any FAA-certified flight instructor, airman certification representative, designated pilot examiner, or Flight Standards District Office. All but CFIs can give you a temporary license.
Drone license FAQs – Your questions answered
Do I take the Part 107 exam online or in person?
The Part 107 exam is exclusively an in-person test. You can take the TRUST exam online and recertify your commercial drone license online, but the initial test requires you to visit a Knowledge Testing Center and take a pencil-and-paper exam.
How long does it take to get a drone certificate?
The FAA exam itself takes only two and a half hours to complete. If you’re counting all the time spent registering for the exam and studying, you can add another 15 to 20 hours on top of that.
However, there is no need to rush through the process. You don’t want to waste a paid test attempt being haughty.
What kind of information is on the Part 107 exam?
According to the FAA, you can expect to see these materials on the Part 107 exam:
- Nighttime operations
- Airport operations
- How alcohol and drugs affect pilots
- Radio communications
- Crew resource management
- Drone performance and loading
- How weather affects drones
- Drone flight operations and limitations
- Preflight inspections
- Drone maintenance
- Judgment and decision-making
Is the FAA exam hard?
The Part 107 exam is difficult but not impossible to pass by any means. Many aspiring pilots pass the first time and those that don’t usually ace the exam on their second go-around.
Preparing and studying will make the FAA exam a lot easier. You’ll have gotten an understanding of what kind of material you’ll see on the test so you’re less surprised by the questions.
How much does it cost to take the drone exam?
You’ll pay $165 for each attempt at the Part 107 exam. You can see why so many pilots work so hard to pass the first time around, as that’s quite the sum to pay for repeat exams.
How many times can you retake the Part 107 exam?
You can retake this test as many times as required, as the FAA doesn’t have a limit. However, you must wait two weeks from the date you tested to schedule your next test attempt.
Retests aren’t free, so you’ll pay $165 for each attempt.
Does the Part 107 license expire?
Your commercial drone license expires two years from when it’s issued. The FAA intentionally limits the duration of Part 107 certificates. Drone laws can frequently change, and if you tested for your license 10 years ago, you might not be current on the latest regulations.
Before April 2021, commercial pilots who wished to renew their licenses had to take the Part 107 exam again. Their license would be good for another two years, then they’d have to take the exam yet another time.
However, the FAA later changed its stance. Today, pilots looking to keep their commercial licenses current can take a free online exam.
You must have a FAASTeam account if you don’t already. Log in, select Activities, then Courses, Seminars, and Webinars. Scroll until you see Part 107 Small UAS Recurrent ALC-677.
Enroll in the two-hour course and complete the five-part training. You’re then given 45 minutes to answer 90 multiple-choice questions. You will see any answers you got incorrect as you go.
Go back and change them, as you must score 100 percent to pass. You will soon receive your renewal after submitting your exam.