If You Want to Fly Your DJI Drone, You Better Register It

Credit: DJI
DJI announced software upgrades across its drone lines that will require registration to enable full features.

The moment you first open a box with a new toy is an exciting one, and if that toy is a drone, it's especially exciting. You want to get it unwrapped and flying (and, if you aren't careful, crashing) as soon as possible. However, DJI is going to slow that process down a step, as all drones sold will now be limited out of the box to a height of 98 feet and a flight a radius of 164 feet—until you register them with DJI. If you already have an account with DJI, you don't have to do anything more. If you don't, you'll now have to register in order to have that flight restriction lifted.

Credit: DJI

This is at least partially a response to last week's appeals court repeal of a 2016 regulation requiring all drone purchasers to register with the FAA. While commercial drone pilots (including commercial applications like flying for film shoots) still need to pass a certification exam and get FAA registration, consumers do not. Registration of your drone with DJI ensures that your drone, and DJI, know where the drone is located and that it follows any local rules and regulations regarding drone flight.

DJI software already prevents flying of drones into illegal and dangerous areas, such as permanently banned areas like airports or dynamically problematic spots like wild fires, and enforces the good flying practices via software that the FAA would've encouraged through registration. By forcing you to register the drone with DJI, the company can ensure that the drone isn't being tampered with to trick it into thinking it's somewhere it's not. If you have permission to fly in an area that DJI has labeled as restricted, there is a process for unlocking it by logging in through the Go app, verifying your info (with your phone number, for example) and then unlocking the zone temporarily.

Credit: DJI

Last year, DJI made all of Syria and Iraq no-fly zones, and while it's possible to hack around the location of a drone so that it can fly in a no fly zone, it's likely that DJI is beefing the security of the software that locks in a drone's knowledge of its own location. Adding the requirement to register the drone with DJI further improves that security, making it even harder to trick DJI drones into flying where they shouldn't.  So be prepared: if you are shopping for a DJI drone, you're going to have to register it before you can go really crazy with it. While you're at it, maybe take the time to watch a few tutorials on how to fly it, too.     

Additional reporting by Randall Esulto.

Your Comment


Hummm...not exactly sure how i feel about this. I had a DJI drone, i registered it with the FAA... i just don't really see what the big deal is all about. My DJI drone committed suicide and now i'm flying a Karma, all under the same FAA registration. But now you have to register with the manufacturer (DJI) so you can basically use it??

May 25, 2017 at 8:50AM, Edited May 25, 8:50AM


How does this work in Canada, where our enlightened government has essentially made all drone operations illegal?

May 25, 2017 at 10:53AM


This reminds me a little bit of the the fear of book burning. DJI tells us where we can and can't fly. Based on what? The FAA? What if cities pass ordinances against flying and the FAA says OK. Will DJI change the GO app so we can't fly? When does it end. People are freaked out about drones because, for some odd reason, they can't seem to differentiate between a small, DJI quad copter and the big fixed wing things the military flies to blow things up. If fear leads to more and more places we can't fly and DJI just goes along with it putting restrictions in our software, pretty soon we'll have to drive 50, 75, 100+ miles outside of our cities and towns to enjoy our drones. Again, it's like the books. who decides what we can and cannot read, what stays on library shelves and what gets burned!

May 25, 2017 at 2:01PM

Dave Stanton

In all fairness, unless you're an angry spouse on the 53rd floor of a New Year high rise, books don't run the risk of dropping out of the sky in highly populated urban areas. I own a drone, and every time i fly it in LA all I think about is incredibly dangerous it is.

May 25, 2017 at 10:52PM

Russell Anderson
Editor, Programmer

Everybody DOES know that drone registration for recreational use is no longer required in the US, right? - https://www.recode.net/2017/5/19/15663436/us-drone-registration-rules-faa

May 25, 2017 at 3:32PM, Edited May 25, 3:32PM

Richard Krall

It's funny... I've been flying a Phantom since they came out (shot this... kinda amazing: https://vimeo.com/82292117 ) and now I just got a Mavic and was kinda laughing at how automated it is... and how it doesnt let you fly in places I used to...

I was going to sell/give away my old "analog" phantom... but now I realize its value that its basically "off the grid".

May 31, 2017 at 9:33AM

Roberto Serrini
Director • Editor