Illinois Drone Laws 2024 (Federal, State, and Local Rules To Know)

David Cassiel

Before you head out with your drone to explore what the state of Illinois has in store for you, you have to be aware of the drone laws in Illinois or else you risk getting into trouble with the law.

Are drones allowed in Illinois?

It is legal to fly drones in the state of Illinois. It has federal, state, and local laws that govern the use of drones in the state. However, you can neither fly your drone around Park District properties, nor use your drone to interrupt fishermen and hunters during their activities.

In this article, I will cover everything you need to know about Illinois drone laws for you to enjoy a pleasurable flight with your drone and stay clear of any legal proceedings.

Federal Drone Laws In Illinois

The federal drone laws in the United States are the laws that apply to Illinois and every state in the United States of America and were created by the federal government.

If you have a small drone that is less than 55 pounds, you can fly recreationally by following the Drone Laws in the USA as defined by FAA Part 107 guidelines.

Federal Drone Laws for Recreational Flying in Illinois

You can fly your drone for recreational purposes in Illinois as a hobby without seeking monetary compensation as long as you follow the FAA law (Part 107) and also check the state jurisdiction for additional licensing, permission, and clearance requirements.

Cloud gate, ilinois
Cloud gate, ilinois

Below are the federal rules to follow while flying your drone for recreational purposes in Illinois to keep you, your drone, and everyone safe in the airspace.

  1. Fly your drone only for recreational use or as a hobby.
  2. Follow the safety guidelines of an FAA-recognized Community Based Organization (CBO). Recreational flyers should follow the safety guidelines of existing aeromodelling organizations or use the FAA-provided safety guidelines per Advisory Circular 91-57B.
  3. Keep your drone within your visual line of sight or use a co-located visual observer (physically next to) and in direct communication with you.
  4. Don’t fly close or interfere with a manned aircraft.
  5. Fly below 400 feet in controlled airspace (Class B, C, D, and E) after obtaining permission from LAANC or FAA Drone Zone.
  6. Fly below 400 feet in uncontrolled airspace (Class G). Note: You can also be prohibited from flying in a Class G airspace in areas designated as prohibited areas, restricted areas, military operated areas, alert areas, etc. except with prior authorization from the FAA.
  7. Take The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST) and carry proof of test passage.
  8. Always slap your registration number on the exterior surface of your drones and always carry the proof of registration with you. As a recreational flier, you are exempted from registering and marking your drones by the FAA as long as your drone weighs less than 0.55 lbs (250 grams).
  9. Do not dangerously operate your drone. For example:
    • Do not interfere with emergency response or law enforcement activities.
    • Do not fly under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
    • Avoid flying near or over critical infrastructure.

You should be aware that you could be liable for civil and/or criminal penalties if you intentionally break any of these rules and regulations listed above as a recreational drone pilot.

As a recreational drone pilot, you are obliged to learn the rules and regulations put in place by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on the proper use of drones for recreational flying.

You should also apply common sense when operating your drone in crowded public places, historic resources, and public places to keep everyone safe.

Federal Drone Laws For Commercial Drone flying in Illinois

You can fly your drone for commercial purposes in Illinois with the aim of seeking monetary compensation as long as you follow the FAA law (Part 107) and also check the state jurisdiction for additional licensing, permission, and clearance requirements.

Rockford is the third largest city in the U.S. state of Illinois,
Rockford is the third largest city in the U.S. state of Illinois,

Below are the federal rules to follow while flying your drone for recreational purposes in Illinois to keep you, your drone, and everyone safe in the airspace.

Step 1: Learn the Rules

  1. Read and understand the dos and don’ts as a commercial flyer the under Part 107 rules. Review a summary of the Part 107 rules (PDF). Still unsure if Part 107 rules work for you and your intended UAS operation? Check the FAA user identification tool.
  2. You can obtain a waiver to exceed some limit put in place by the FAA that is not covered by Part 107. Below are some laws in Part 107 that are subject to a waiver.
    • Operation from a moving vehicle or aircraft. *
    • Always operate your drone during the day. *
    • Keep your drone from out of the Visual line of sight from an aircraft operation *
    • Keep your drone in your Visual line of sight. *
    • Operation of multiple small unmanned aircraft systems. *
    • Yielding the right of way. *
    • Don’t fly your drone over people. *
    • Restriction from certain airspace. *
    • Operating limitations for small unmanned aircraft.
    • *The FAA will not waive this section to allow the carriage of property of another by aircraft for compensation or hire.
    • You should read about the Part 107 Waiver application process if your drone operation requires a waiver.
  3. Commercial drone operators should steer clear of flying close to airports as it might be challenging for human aircraft to spot and avoid a drone in flight. Keep in mind that the UAV operator is accountable for any safety threat their drone poses in an airport area and must avoid crewed aircraft. Read more about flying near airports.

Step 2: Become an FAA-Certified Drone Pilot by Passing the Knowledge Test

  1. To be eligible to get your Drone License (Remote Pilot Certificate), you must be:
    • At least 16 years old
    • Able to read, write, speak, and understand English
    • Be in a physical and mental condition to safely fly a UAS
  2. Review the entire process to get your Drone License or Remote Pilot Certificate.
  3. Study for the Knowledge Test by reviewing the Test Prep materials provided by the FAA.
  4. Obtain an FAA Tracking Number (FTN) by creating an Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (IACRA) profile before registering for a knowledge test.
  5. Schedule an appointment to take the Knowledge Test at an FAA-approved Knowledge Testing Center.
  6. Once you’ve passed your test, 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)*
  7. You are now eligible to operate as a commercial drone pilot.

Step 3: Register your drone with the FAA

  • Pay the registration fee of $5 with your credit card or debit card to get a valid three year license to commercially fly drones.
  • Visit and select “Fly UAS under Part 107” to create an account and register your drone.
  • After that, mark the exterior surface of your drone (PDF) with your registration number for identification and tracking if it were to get stolen

Always be sure to fly your drone safely and within FAA guidelines and regulations. It is up to you as a drone pilot to know the rules of the sky and where it is safe to fly. You should try the user identification tool if you aren’t sure if Part 107 is right for you and your operation

Federal Drone Laws for Public Drone Flying In Illinois

Federal public laws are drone laws for federal, state, local, or tribal government entities, including schools and universities that use unmanned aircraft systems or drone technology for their operations.

chicago skyline from the park
chicago skyline from the park

Federal Restrictions & Requirements

  • Be a political subdivision of the United States government, a State or U.S. territory government, the District of Columbia, or an Indian Tribal Government listed in the Robert T Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. § 5122)
  • Own and operate the unmanned aircraft, or for non-federal public aircraft operators (PAO’s) have an exclusive lease on it for more than 90 days
  • Fly missions that meet the statutory criteria of a governmental function on a flight-by-flight basis
  • Not fly for a commercial purpose or receive compensation for flight operations.

Emergency Situations

First responders and other organizations responding to natural disasters or other emergency situations may be eligible for expedited approval through our Special Governmental Interest (SGI) process. Operations that may be considered include:

  • Firefighting
  • Search and Rescue
  • Law Enforcement
  • Utility or Other Critical Infrastructure Restoration
  • Incident Awareness and Analysis
  • Damage Assessments Supporting Disaster Recovery Related Insurance Claims
  • Media Coverage Providing Crucial Information to the Public

To apply for a waiver through the SGI process, you must be an existing Part 107 Remote Pilot with a current certificate OR you must have an existing Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA). To submit a waiver through this process, fill out the Emergency Operation Request Form  and send it to the FAA’s System Operations Support Center (SOSC) at [email protected] .

If approved, the FAA will add an amendment to your existing COA or Remote Pilot Certificate that authorizes you to fly under certain conditions for the specified operation. If denied, operators should not fly outside the provisions of their existing COA or part 107. Operators have the option to amend their requests.

* This process is called the Special Government Interest (SGI) amendment process and is outlined in FAA Order JO 7200.23A

State Drone Laws In Illinois

Downtown Chicago Skyscraper Cityscape along the Chicago River. Illinois, USA.
Downtown Chicago Skyscraper Cityscape along the Chicago River. Illinois, USA.

Illinois state drone laws are the drone laws that apply to the entire state of Illinois , and were created by the Illinois General Assembly.

Illinois has some state-wide laws governing the use of drones in the state that were put together by the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Illinois General Assembly.

House Bill 3906

House Bill 3906 prohibits drone use in a way that would violate someone’s reasonable expectation of privacy or invade the area above or around a person’s inhabited home in order to take a video.

House Bill 1652

House Bill 1952 prohibits drone operators from using drones to interfere with another person’s lawful taking of aquatic or wildlife (fishing or hunting).

First time offenders of this law are categorized as class B misdemeanors. In Illinois, a class B misdemeanor can lead to punishments such as a $1,500 fine, two years of probation, and six months in prison.

Second-time offenders, as well as any subsequent violation, are categorized as a Class A misdemeanor. A Class A misdemeanor would count as a criminal offense and can lead to punishments such as a $2,500 fine and a year in prison.

520 ILCS 5/2.33

This law makes it unlawful to use any vehicle or unmanned aircraft as defined by the Illinois Aeronautics Act to take, pursue, or intentionally harass or disturb any wild birds or mammals except as permitted by the Code of Federal Regulations.

This law does not prevent the use of unmanned aircraft systems for the inspection of a public utility facility, tower, or structure or a mobile service facility by a government official.

Senate Bill 2937

Senate Bill 2937 permits law enforcement agencies to operate drones in situations where there is a high risk of a terrorist attack; when there is a plausible suspicion of impending death or serious bodily injury; when a suspect is about to flee or destroy evidence; when a search warrant has been granted; when a disaster has struck; or when there is a public emergency.

This law also prevents law enforcement agencies from obtaining information gathered by a drone owned by a private third party. However, this does not prevent private parties from willingly providing law enforcement with data collected by a privately operated drone.

Senate Bill 1587

Senate Bill 1587 permits law enforcement agencies to operate drones when countering a high risk of a terrorist attack to prevent loss of life and property.

A law enforcement agency must obtain a search warrant from a judge that lasts for 45 days after its issuance before they can employ a drone to search for an individual or private property.

There are also two additional instances where the police can make use of an agency drone pilot.

One of these is when law enforcement “is attempting to locate a missing person and is not also undertaking a criminal investigation.”

The other allowable circumstance is when using a drone “solely for crime scene and traffic crash scene photography,” which “must be conducted in a geographically confined and time-limited manner.”

Senate Bill 3291

Senate Bill 3291 prohibits local government units from enacting ordinances or resolutions regulating the use of drones. This does not apply to municipalities with a population of 1 million or more inhabitants.

Local Drone Laws In Illinois

Elgin Illinois
Elgin is a city in Cook and Kane counties in the northern part of the U.S. state of Illinois.

Illinois local drone laws are drone laws that apply only to certain regions, cities, or counties within the state of Illinois and were created by various authorities within the state.

Chicago Drone Law

This law places several restrictions on drone use in the city, which are similar to the drone regulations set by the FAA. Law enforcement is authorized to confiscate the drones of operators that violate the law.

Crystal Lake Park District Drone Law

This law prohibits flying, landing, or launching a drone or any unmanned aerial vehicle within the Park District except in designated areas or when granted a permit by the special Park District programs.

Evanston Drone Law

This law places a moratorium on the use of drones within the City of Evanston until adequate local, state, and national regulations on their use have been put in place.

McHenry County Conservation District Drone Law

This law prohibits the use of drones or unmanned aerial systems within any District property except at areas designated by the Executive Director and according to rules, regulations, and restrictions.

Schaumburg Drone Law

This law prohibits the operation of a drone within 100 feet of the perimeter of any village property or right of way during a special event (a public gathering or even held outdoors on village property with a permit issued by the Village), except if operated by or on behalf of the Village for monitoring or documentation.

Frequently Asked Questions on Illinois Drone Laws

Is it illegal to fly a drone over private property in Illinois?

It is legal to fly drones above a house or private property in Illinois as long as you don’t hover around them or use your drone to capture or record them without permission from the property owner.

Can I fly a drone in Illinois without a license?

Recreational drone pilots don’t need a license to fly a drone in Illinois, but you must pass a free online safety test (TRUST). However, commercial drone flyers must get a certificate (Part 107) from the FAA. Furthermore, all drones weighing more than 249 grams must be registered to operate in Illinois.

Can you shoot down a drone in Illinois?

Shooting down a drone in Illinois is illegal and against federal law because drones are protected by the FAA. You could serve some jail time or pay a large fine if you shoot down a drone in Illinois. You are advised to report it to the authorities if you see a drone hovering above you or your property.

Final Thoughts

Illinois has wonderful scenery you can explore with your drone for recreational or commercial purposes. However, you need to abide by the drone laws set by the FAA, your state government, and local authorities in that city to enjoy a hassle-free flight.

You should also check out the best places to fly a drone in Illinois if you want to see beautiful places that are legal to fly in various cities.

Find More

Affiliate Disclaimer

We may earn commission from Amazon and other retailers when you make a purchase through our links. You can learn more about our affiliate disclaimer here.

Author’s Bio

Latest Articles

Follow Us

Feel free to follow us on social media for the latest news and more inspiration.

Related Content