Drone Laws in Virginia Explained (2023 Regulations)


Welcome to an in-depth exploration of the drone laws in Virginia, where we soar into the regulatory skies governing unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).

Whether you’re a hobbyist capturing mesmerizing aerial footage or a commercial pilot employing drones for business, navigating through Virginia’s specific drone regulations is essential.

Can You Fly a Drone in Virginia?

Yes, you can fly a drone in Virginia. However, all drone operators should follow federal drone rules, as well as state and local drone laws, to ensure safe, legal flights. 

Federal Drone Laws in Virginia

Federal Drone Laws in Virginia

Drone pilots in Virginia must follow federal regulations the FAA sets, including Part 107 rules for agency pilots and recreational drone registration requirements

Commercial Drone Use 

Any drone operator flying a drone for business use is operating a drone commercially. Federal rules for commercial drone use include:

Recreational Drone Flying

Flying your drone as a hobby, not for any profitable activity, is known as recreational drone flying. Hobbyist drone operators in Virginia must follow federal regulations including:

Government Employee Drone Operation

All government employees in Virginia, including the fire department or police, must adhere to the FAA’s Part 107 rule or obtain a federal Certificate of Authorization (COA)

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

State Drone Laws in Virginia

State Drone Laws in Virginia

State drone laws in Virginia apply to the entire state. Enacted by the Virginia General Assembly and administered by the Virginia Department of Transportation, these laws govern the responsible usage of drones within Virginia’s borders. The state boasts five state-wide laws specifically addressing drone operations to ensure safe and compliant flying:

  • HB 2350 // 2017– According to this law, it is a Class 1 misdemeanor to use a drone to trespass on private property to spy or peep. 
  • SB 873 // 2017 – Based on this law, the fire chief can maintain order during an emergency incident, which includes the relevant airspace. 
  • HB 412 // 2016 – This law prevents local governments in Virginia from regulating UAS. 
  • HB 2125 // 2015 – Law enforcement must get a warrant to use a drone for any reason, aside from a few outlined exceptions. 
  • HB 2012 // 2013 – State agencies were not allowed to use drones until July of 2015. 
  • Code of Virginia 4VAC5-30-400 // 2010– Drones are prohibited in Virginia state parks without a special permit from the DCR. Only research-based and commercial drones can’t apply for the permit. 

Local Drone Laws in Virginia

Local drone laws only apply to certain counties, cities, or areas of a state. Many states have local drone laws, but we did not uncover any in Virginia. State drone law HB 412 // 2016  prohibits local municipalities from regulating UAS. Even so, always check the drone laws and no-fly zones in your area before operating a drone. 

Penalties for Violating Drone Laws in Virginia

Virginia Drone Law Penalties

Breaking UAS laws in Virginia may result in steep penalties. Penalties will vary depending on the law broken, but they can include fines, civil/criminal charges, drone confiscation, and/or jail time. 

As an example, it is a Class 1 misdemeanor to use a drone for peeping or spying. In Virginia, a Class 1 misdemeanor is punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 and/or up to 12 months in jail time. 

FAQs About Drone Laws in Virginia

Can I fly a drone in a Virginia state park?

No, you cannot fly a drone in a Virginia state park according to the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. Commercial and research-based drone operators may apply for a special permit to use their drones in a Virginia state park. 

Is it legal to fly a drone over private property in Virginia?

No, you cannot fly a drone over private property in Virginia without permission from the landowner. 

Is drone fishing legal in Virginia?

No, drone fishing is not legal in Virginia. You may not use a UAS to trap, hunt, or kill wild game. 

Can I fly a drone in Virginia Beach?

Yes, you can fly a drone in Virginia Beach as long as you follow all FAA guidelines. A few great places to fly a drone near Virginia Beach include:

Little Island Park
Virginia Beach Fishing Pier
Stumpy Lake Natural Area

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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!