Drone Laws in North Carolina (2023)
A list of drone regulations and links for people flying drones in North Carolina.
North Carolina Drone Regulations
Federal Drone Laws in North Carolina
These are drone laws that apply to every state in the U.S., including North Carolina, and were created by the federal government.
To fly a drone as a commercial pilot in the state of North Carolina (i.e. for work / business purposes) you are required to follow the requirements of the FAA’s Part 107 Small UAS Rule (Part 107), which includes passing the FAA’s Aeronautical Knowledge Test to obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate.
To fly a drone as a hobbyist in the state of North Carolina (i.e. for fun / pleasure) you are required by the FAA to take The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST). You are also required to follow the FAA’s recreational model aircraft rules. One of those rules is that if your drone weighs more than 0.55 lbs (250g), you’ll need to pay $5 to get it registered. There are additional rules when it comes to airspace and altitude, keeping your drone within line-of-sight while you’re flying, and more.
To fly a drone as a government employee in the state of North Carolina (i.e., for a police or fire department) you may either operate under the FAA’s Part 107 rule or obtain a federal Certificate of Authorization (COA).
Note: The content on this page is meant for informational purposes only, and is not meant to take the place of legal counsel.
State Drone Laws in North Carolina
These are drone laws that apply to the entire state of North Carolina, and were created by the North Carolina General Assembly.
According to the North Carolina Department of Transportation and the North Carolina General Assembly, North Carolina has four state-wide laws concerning the use of drones in the state.
North Carolina is one of the first states to create a robust certification process for the use of drones within the state—see state law SB 744 below for details regarding North Carolina’s certification requirements for different types of drone operators.
This law prohibits the operation of UAS near a correctional facility, excluding certain people operating in an official capacity or with written consent from the warden.
This law allows the use of UAS for emergency management activities, including incident command, area reconnaissance, search and rescue, preliminary damage assessment, hazard risk management, and floodplain mapping. This law also makes other changes to align the state law with federal law, and exempts model aircraft from training and permitting requirements for UAS.
SB 446 // 2015
This law expands the authority of the state’s Chief Information Officer to approve the purchase and operation of UAS by the state, and modifies the state regulation of UAS to conform to FAA guidelines.
This North Carolina administrative code prohibits drones from ascending or taking-off within or upon any state park area or state park water surface. In some limited circumstances, drones may be operated after obtaining a special activity permit from the Park.
This law establishes the following requirements for drone operations within the state of North Carolina:
Commercial drone pilots operating in the state of North Carolina must:
- Commercial UAS/drone operators operating under 14 CFR Part 107 or a 333 Exemption within North Carolina are required to have a valid NC UAS Commercial Operators Permit.
- Commercial operators must take and pass NCDOT’s UAS Knowledge Test and then apply for a state permit.
- To obtain a permit, operators must provide the state proof of their remote pilot certifcate or other authorization to conduct commercial UAS operations from the FAA (see Federal above).
- Permitted operators agree to these Terms & Conditions.
Recreational drone pilots flying in North Carolina are not required to obtain a license or permit from the state’s Division of Aviation. However, recreational users are still subject to NC UAS rules and regulations.
Government/public-use drone pilots operating in the state of North Carolina must:
- Take and pass NCDOT’s UAS Knowledge Test and then apply for a state permit.
- Agree to these Terms & Conditions
All drone pilots operating commercially in the state of North Carolina are subject to the FAA’s Part 107 rules. Learn more about the FAA’s certification process to obtain a commercial drone license in this free guide.
Know something we don’t about drone laws in North Carolina? Send us an email at support[at]uavcoach[dot]com. We do our best to keep this list up-to-date, but the reality is that given the pace of the small unmanned aerial system (sUAS) industry and how municipal governments are responding, drone regulations in North Carolina can change throughout the year, and changes can be hard to track. If we missed something, please reach out to let us know.
Why fly a drone in North Carolina? To get great shots like these!
Local Drone Laws in North Carolina
These are drone laws that apply only to certain regions, cities, or counties within the state of North Carolina, and were created by various authorities within the state.
Town of Chapel Hill – Municipal Ordinance
This town ordinance allows local authorities to enforce existing FAA drone regulations.
City of Kannapolis – Municipal Law
This city ordinance bans the use of drones in city parks.
City of Raleigh – Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resources Drone Policy
This policy establishes what parks, recreational, and cultural areas drone are permitted or banned it. Drones may not fly in areas classified as “nature preserves,” “nature parks,” or “wetland centers.” Drone operators are also forbidden from taking of or landing in cemeteries or over lakes. The policy also identifies six parks with designated UAS areas where it is legal to fly a drone.
Gaston County – Parks and Recreation Drone Policy
This county regulation prohibits the operation of drones within any Gaston County park without a special permit. Drones may only be operated at the special use facility at Lewis Brooks Airfield.
Town of Beech Mountain – Municipal Ordinance // 2017
This ordinance prohibits the operation of drones within any town-owned property, including any public vehicular areas, common areas, etc.
Take a Drone Flight Training Class in North Carolina
UAV Coach offers in-person training in select cities in North Carolina. The 2-hour, in-person training class provides hands-on flight time with an instructor, practice with intelligent flight modes, and education on what to do before, during, and after a flight mission to stay compliant and safe. During the class, you’ll also get a chance to ask your questions about regulations, software, flight operations management, checklists and more.
Sign up for an in-person drone flight training class in North Carolina.
Looking to get in more practice flying your drone? In addition to taking a drone flight training class with one of our trained instructors, you can also scout out safe and legal places to fly on your own using our guide to the Best Places to Fly a Drone in Charlotte and Raleigh.
Want to get a feel for the kind of footage you could get flying a drone in North Carolina? Here you go: