Minnesota 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 Minnesota has in store for you, you have to be aware of the drone laws in Minnesota else you risk getting into trouble with the law.

Are drones allowed in Minnesota?

It is legal to fly drones in the state of Minnesota. It has federal, state, and local laws that govern the flying of drones in the state. However, you’re also expected to register your drone with other government bodies outside of the FAA (such as the Minnesota Department of Transportation).

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

Federal Drone Laws In Minnesota

The United States drone laws are the federal drone laws that apply to Minnesota 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 Minnesota

You can fly your drone for recreational purposes in Minnesota 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.

Drone View of Minneapolis and the Mississippi river in summer, Minnesota.
Aerial View of Minneapolis and the Mississippi river in summer

Below are the federal rules to follow while flying your drone for recreational purposes in Minnesota 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 Minnesota

You can fly your drone for commercial purposes in Minnesota 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.

Rochester is a city in the U.S. State of Minnesota and is the county seat of Olmsted County.
Rochester is a city in the U.S. State of Minnesota and is the county seat of Olmsted County.

Below are the federal rules to follow while flying your drone for recreational purposes in Minnesota 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 dronezone.faa.gov 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 Minnesota

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.

Drone photography of downtown Minneapolis over the Mississippi River.
Aerial view of downtown Minneapolis over the Mississippi River.

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 Minnesota

the mississippi river flows southward over st. anthony falls, and by the minneapolis skyline, on its way to the gulf of mexico.
Mississippi river in Minnesota.

These are drone laws that apply to the entire state of Minnesota and were created by the Minnesota Legislature.

Indiana has five state-wide laws governing the use of drones in the state that was put together by the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Minnesota Legislature

Minnesota Department of Transportation Policy

Commercial drone pilots are required to register with the MnDOT, obtain a commercial license from the state, and have insurance on their drone before they can operate their drone in Minnesota.

Minnesota Statutes 360.13

The Minnesota Statutes do not make any specific mention of drones or unmanned aerial vehicles, but they define an “aircraft” as “any contrivance now known or hereafter invented, used, or designed for navigation of or flight in the air, but excluding parachutes.”

Minnesota Statutes 360.59

Commercial drone operators with drones that weigh less than 55 pounds are required to submit their proof of drone insurance upon registration with the state. The insurance coverage requirements must be specific to the unmanned aerial system.

Minnesota Statutes 360.60

All commercial drone operators are required to register their aircraft with MnDOT. This is done by completing an Aircraft Registration Application and paying an annual fee of $100.

Minnesota Statutes 360.75

Violators of the regulations below will be charged with a misdemeanor:

  • Operating an aircraft while in possession of any license or permit, knowing that it has been canceled, revoked, suspended, or altered.
  • Operating any aircraft in such a manner as to indicate either a willful or a wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.
  • While flying over a thickly inhabited area or over a public gathering in this state, engaging in trick or acrobatic flying or in any acrobatic feat.
  • While in flight in an aircraft, whether as a pilot, passenger, or otherwise, endangers, kills, or attempts to kill any birds or animals or uses any aircraft for the purpose of concentrating, driving, rallying, or stirring up migratory waterfowl.

SF 3258

Intentionally flying a drone over a state correctional facility or over the grounds belonging to or controlled by the facility is prohibited and is classified as a misdemeanor without obtaining permission from the commissioner. You’ll also be charged with a gross misdemeanor if you take photos or videos.

SF 3072

This ordinance permits the use of drones by law enforcement for emergency situations with a risk of death or bodily harm; public events with a heightened risk to public safety; counter-terrorist operations; traffic crash documentation; public relations; or training.

Local Drone Laws In Minnesota

Rochester is a city founded in 1854 in the U.S. State of Minnesota and is the county seat of Olmsted County located on the Zumbro River's south fork in Southeast Minnesota
Rochester is a city founded in 1854 in the U.S. State of Minnesota.

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

Anoka County Drone Law

Anoka drone law prohibits the launching or landing of drones within any of the county’s parklands unless a Special Use Permit has been granted by the Parks Department.

Bloomington Drone Law

Bloomington drone laws require a permit for any commercial filming or photography within city parks.

Dakota County Drone Law

The landing or launching of any aircraft within a county park is prohibited by Dakota drone law.

Eagan Drone Law

The City of Eagan has revised their policy and now defers to the FAA in all matters of drone requirements, guidance, and regulations.

Minneapolis Drone Law

All drone operations within and on Minneapolis Park must have approved drone permits from the Recreation Board and drone insurance.

Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Drone Law

This rule prohibits the launching, landing, or operation of drones on any refuge unit.

Mississippi River Drone law

The Mississippi River Drone Law limits drone operations to approximately 64 hectares of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area near Coldwater Spring.

Ramsey County Drone Law

According to Ramsey drone law, drones are not permitted to take off or land in any park in Ramsey County However, drone operations are only allowed in designated areas.

Three Rivers Park District Drone Law

The Three Rivers Park District drone law prohibits the use of drones and other unmanned aerial vehicles within all park district-managed parks and trails unless authorized by park authorities.

Arlington Drone Laws

This ordinance contains the following regulation for drone operations in the city

  • Drone operations are prohibited within the airspace of the city unless authorization has been granted by the city authorities.
  • The City permitting procedure may require the operator to have liability insurance for the drone operations with coverage and terms set by the City Council.
  • Exceptions apply for commercial drone operators hired to do photography of a property by the property owner if operations are restricted within the property boundaries.
  • Exceptions apply for operations within the individual’s property and without surveillance capabilities

Saint Bonifacius Drone Laws

This ordinance contains the following regulations for drone operations

  • Drones are prohibited within the airspace of the city. Exemptions are made for drone flights over an individual’s own property.
  • Commercial operations by licensed drone pilots within one’s own property must be done with prior notification of local law enforcement. 

Frequently Asked Questions on Minnesota Drone Laws

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

It is legal to fly drones above a house or private property in Minnesota 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 Minnesota without a license?

Recreational drone pilots don’t need a license to fly a drone in Minnesota, 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 Minnesota.

Can you shoot down a drone in Minnesota?

Shooting down a drone in Minnesota 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 Minnesota. You are advised to report it to the authorities if you see a drone hovering above you or your property.

Final Thoughts on Minnesota Drone Laws

Minnesota 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 Minnesota if you want to see beautiful places that are legal to fly in various cities.

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