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

Are drones allowed in Washington?

It is legal to fly drones in the state of Washington. It has federal, state, and local laws that govern the flying of drones in the state. However, Washington state drone laws allow drone operations in state parks and require commercial drone pilots to register their drone with the WSDOT.

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

Federal Drone Laws In Washington

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

You can fly your drone for recreational purposes in Washington 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 shot of Seattle, Washington on a sunny day in summer, looking along the Aurora Bridge from the Fremont bank of Lake Union towards East Queen Anne and Eastlake, with the downtown skyline in the distance and, much further away, the snowcap of Mount Rainier.
Aerial shot of Seattle, Washington on a sunny day in summer.

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

You can fly your drone for commercial purposes in Washington 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.

View of crowded modern cityscape with 1201 Third Avenue, U.S. Bank Centre, ship moving in foreground, Seattle, Washington, United States.
View of crowded modern cityscape in Seattle, Washington, United States.

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

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.

Aerial shot of Olympia, Washington on a summer evening, looking across the downtown towards the state capitol building.
Aerial shot of Olympia, Washington

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 Washington

Kerry Park in Seattle,  Washington, USA.
Kerry Park in Seattle, Washington, USA.

Washington state drone laws are those drone laws that apply to the entire state of Washington, and were created by the Washington State Legislature.

Washington has three state-wide laws governing the use of drones in the state that was put together by the Washington Department of Transportation and the Washington State Legislature.

Washington Administrative Code 352-32-130

Washington Administrative Code 352-32-130 permits the use of drones in Washington State Parks, but only with the Director’s or their designee’s prior written approval.

A specific permission and an RC aircraft permit are required for any commercial or educational video or still photography. Applications should be submitted by drone pilots at least 60 days prior to the activity.

Washington Department of Transportation

Washington Department of Transportation states that commercial drone pilots must register their drone with the WSDOT via The Secure Access Washington (SAW) official website before operating

Washington Administrative Code 220-413-070

Washington Administrative Code 220-413-070 prohibits the use of unmanned aircraft to follow, concentrate, or harass any wild animal or wild bird, or to detect, find, or report the whereabouts of wildlife for the purpose of hunting, unless the department has given its permission.

Local Drone Laws In Washington

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

Snohomish County

Snohomish County drone laws prohibit the operation of remote-controlled unmanned aircraft in county parks outside those places set aside for them.

Pierce County

Pierce County drone laws prohibit county offices and agencies from utilizing drones to obtain information or evidence related to crimes, unless specifically permitted by federal and state laws.

City of Seattle Municipal Law

The use of remote-controlled aircraft, including drones, in parks is prohibited by City of Seattle Municipal Law unless such areas have been designated for that purpose by the Superintendent or are permitted by permission from the Superintendent.

City of Seattle Film Permit Requirement // 2017

Filming with a drone in Seattle requires a permit if it involves taking or landing on city-owned property or flying over city-owned property and requiring control, such as holding pedestrians and traffic. However, no permit is needed when flying from or over private property or over waterways.

Washington State Capitol

Washington State Capitol drone laws prohibit flying an unmanned aircraft from or on land or sea inside the perimeter of the campus of the state capitol of Washington. The sole exceptions are law enforcement organizations, emergency response teams, national defense initiatives, and other endeavors that the director has already approved.

Aerial Perspective Over Spring Cherry Blossoms at the Washington State Capital building in Olympia
Aerial Perspective Over Spring Cherry Blossoms at the Washington State Capital building in Olympia

Eastern Washington University

Eastern Washington University drone laws prohibit university staff and students from using drones on or above Eastern Washington University during a university activity unless the director of public safety has given prior approval. In locations where there is a legitimate expectation of privacy in conformity with established societal standards, drone usage is severely forbidden. 

Bellevue Park

Bellevue Park prohibits the use of drones everywhere in Bellevue Park. Instead, Marymoor Park Airfield (requires registration with MA RC Club) or 60 Acres Park are recommended for drone pilots to use.

Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary

Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary prohibits aircraft activities over the Olympic Coast if they are located below 2000 feet in the air. The limits of the sanctuary go from Koitlah Point in Neah Bay to the Copalis River’s mouth. At the Copalis Beach airport, takeoffs and landings are unaffected.

Frequently Asked Questions on Washington Drone Laws

Can you fly a drone over private property in Washington?

You can fly a drone above a house or private property in Washington as long as you don’t fly below the minimum height, hover around the property, or use your drone to capture or record the occupants without permission from the occupants or property owner.

Can I fly a drone in Washington without a license?

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

Can you shoot down a drone in Washington?

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

Final Thoughts on Washington Drone Laws

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

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