Drone Laws in North Carolina (2023 Regulations)


Drone operators must understand drone laws in North Carolina. These regulations not only ensure the safety of all airspace users but also protect individual privacy rights and property interests. 

Can You Fly a Drone in North Carolina?

Yes, you can fly a drone in North Carolina. North Carolina permits commercial and recreational drone operation as long as you adhere to all federal, state, and local laws. 

Federal Drone Laws in North Carolina

Federal Drone Laws in North Carolina

Drone operators in North Carolina must follow FAA guidelines, including maintaining visual line-of-sight, flying below 400 feet, and avoiding people and power lines.

Recreational Drone Operation in North Carolina

Recreational drone flyers must pass The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST). To fly a drone for hobby purposes, you must still register your drone with the FAA. Furthermore, follow all CBO guidelines for safe drone operation, including flying under 400 feet and avoiding restricted areas like airports. 

Commercial Drone Operations in North Carolina

Commercial drone pilots in North Carolina must follow the Part 107 rules set by the FAA and obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate and an NC UAS Commercial Operators Permit from the NCDOT.

To obtain an FAA Remote Pilot Certificate, you must:

  • Pass a comprehensive knowledge test
  • Meet specific eligibility requirements 

To obtain a NC UAS Commercial operators permit you must:

  • Pass NCDOT’s UAS Knowledge Test 

Government Drone Use 

Government employees in North Carolina, including the fire department or police, must adhere to the FAA’s Part 107 rule or obtain a federal Certificate of Authorization (COA). They must also pass the NCDOT’s UAS Knowledge Test and apply for a state permit. 

Note: This content is accurate up to the date it was last updated, and drone regulations in Tennessee can change over time. This is not meant to take the place of legal counsel.

State Drone Laws in North Carolina

State Drone Laws in North Carolina

Drone operators in North Carolina must comply with state-level laws including:

  • SB 744 requires agency drone pilots to pass the NCDOT’s UAS Knowledge Test and promotes safe drone operations.
  • HB 337 permits drones for emergency management activities like search-and-rescue missions and disaster response efforts.
  • HB 128 // 2017 prohibits drone operation near correctional facilities. 
  • SB 446 // 2015 allows North Carolina’s Chief Information Officer to approve state UAS purchases and operations. 
  • NCAC 13B .1204 // 2018 does not allow drone operators to land or take off in a state park or state park water surface. 

Local Drone Laws in North Carolina Cities

Local Drone Laws in North Carolina

Drone operators must investigate local regulations before operating a drone in North Carolina cities, as laws can differ.

LocationDrone Rule
Chapel Hill Municipal Ordinance FAA regulation enforcement permitted by local authorities 
Gaston County- Parks and Recreation Drone Policy Require permission from authorities to fly drones over public areas
North Carolina’s cultural resources department Drone operations restricted in historic and cultural sites
Private property Drone operation is permitted above private property as long as it adheres to trespassing laws.
City of Kannapolis- Municipal LawDrone use is banned in city parks. 
Town of Beech Mountain- Municipal Ordinance// 2017Drone operation is banned on any town-owned property, including any common areas (parks)

Flying drones above private property in North Carolina

Despite FAA regulations and state laws, homeowners in North Carolina have the right to protect their privacy from drone operators.

Drones can be flown in uncontrolled airspace above private properties if they adhere to federal laws and do not interfere with the enjoyment or safety of residents.

If a drone poses a safety risk or interferes with the use of their property, homeowners may take action against the offending pilot under existing trespassing laws.

Penalties for Violating Drone Laws in North Carolina

North Carolina Drone Law Penalties

Violating a drone law in North Carolina may result in hefty penalties. A few notable consequences for breaking drone laws include:

  • Fishing or hunting with a UAS is a Class 1 misdemeanor 
  • Publishing or sharing images taken with a drone on private property without consent is a Class A1 misdemeanor
  • Using a drone near a correctional facility
    • To deliver weapons: faces a $1,500 fine and Class H felony 
    • To deliver contraband: faces a $1000 fine and a Class I felony 
    • For any other reason: faces a $500 fine and a Class 1 misdemeanor 

Ultimately, breaking North Carolina drone rules can result in fines and criminal offenses. Follow all federal, local, and state laws to avoid such consequences. 

FAQs in Relation to Drone Laws in North Carolina

Are Drones Legal in North Carolina?

Yes, drones are legal in North Carolina. However, drone operators must comply with federal regulations and state laws governing their use. The North Carolina Department of Transportation provides guidance on drone usage within the state.

Is It Illegal to Fly a Drone over Private Property in North Carolina?

Flying a drone over private property is not explicitly illegal in North Carolina; however, doing so may lead to privacy or trespassing issues. Drone operators should exercise caution when flying near private properties and respect individuals’ privacy.

Do You Need a Permit to Fly a Drone in North Carolina?

You do not need a permit for recreational drone flights in North Carolina as long as pilots follow federal guidelines such as FAA Part 107 rules. However, commercial drone operators must obtain an NC UAS Commercial Operators Permit.

Can You Fly a Drone Around Your Neighborhood?

Yes, you can generally fly a drone around your neighborhood as long as you adhere to federal regulations and local ordinances. Some towns may have specific drone restrictions, so check local laws before flying in residential areas. Review North Carolina’s drone laws and rules.

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I’m a huge fan of drones, cars, and anything that moves fast! Having bought, tested, and raced drones over the years, tinkering and experimenting with different parts and types, my fascination with drone technology led me to start this blog. So if you enjoy drone content covering the latest drone reviews, recommendations for the best drones for certain uses, and informative content on programming drones and other fun areas, stick around!

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