Learn How to Get a Drone License in California

Get a Drone License in California

In the past few years, drones have gone from novelty items to indispensable tools for some people. Drones are small and remote-controlled aircraft typically capture aerial footage and photos. In a recent article, the New York Times shares how California has become the world’s drone hotspot. If you live in California and want to learn more about getting a drone license, this is an article you need to read!


If you’re new to drones or want to brush up on your skills before hitting the ground with your quadcopter, you’ll want to get a California drone license. Here’s everything you need to know about how to get one.

First and foremost, it’s important to note that getting a drone license in California isn’t as simple as just filling out an application and waiting for your validation letter in the mail. To be eligible for a drone license, you’ll need to pass the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Knowledge Test for Professional Drone Pilots (KTPDP). This test covers information like drone safety and basic operating principles.

Once you’ve successfully passed the KTPDP, you can apply for a drone license through the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The process is relatively straightforward, but there are a few things you’ll need to keep in mind. For starters, make sure you have all the required documents: your driver’s license, proof of residence, and proof of identity. You’ll also need to provide your name, address, date of birth, and Social Security number.

After you’ve submitted your application

Get a Drone License in California

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) now offers a variety of ways to get a drone license, including online and by mail. The online process is simple and can be completed in minutes.      

To get started:

  1. Visit the DMV website at dmv.ca.gov and click “Drone Licenses” under the “Services” heading.
  2. Select “Online Drone License Application” and follow the instructions.
  3. If you are applying by mail, complete an application form (available online or at any DMV office) and send it along with your driver’s license, passport, proof of residence (utility bill, lease agreement, or deed), and $10 to Department of Motor Vehicles.

Drone License Processing Center

P.O. Box 94007

Sacramento, CA 94191-0077

What are the Requirements for a Drone License?

If you’re thinking of buying a drone or already using one, you’ll want to know the requirements for a drone license in California. Here are the basics: 

-To fly a drone commercially, you’ll need a drone pilot license from the FAA. 

-To fly a drone for hobby purposes (including photography and videography), you need only a recreational drone license. 

-To fly a drone for commercial or hobby purposes without getting a pilot license from the FAA, you’ll need to get an operating permit from your local air district. 

-There are some exceptions to these rules – for example, if you’re using a drone for law enforcement or agricultural purposes, you may need a pilot license from the FAA even if you’re flying recreationally.

What is the Difference Between a Remote Pilot Certificate and a Drone License?

A remote pilot certificate is the lowest level of drone license that you can obtain in California. It only allows you to operate a drone within a visual line of sight. On the other hand, a drone license is the next level up and allows you to fly your drone beyond the visual line of sight and operate it during nighttime and in overpopulated areas.  

A drone license is essential if you want to get into commercial drone photography or filmmaking. Without one, you may be limited to flying your drone for recreation or educational purposes.  

You must pass an online licensing test to get a drone license in California. The test assesses your knowledge of airspace regulations, safety guidelines, and primary flight operations.  

After passing the online licensing test, you must submit an application form and pay the applicable fee. Your application will be reviewed, and you will receive a drone license number if approved. You must keep your drone license numbers separate from your remote pilot certificate numbers.

How long does it take to get your Drone License?

There are a few ways to get a drone license in California if you don’t live near an Authorized Center. One way is to take the online drone pilot certification course the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) offers. This course requires a computer with internet access and an Adobe Acrobat reader. After completing the course, you’ll need to take a written test and pass an FAA knowledge exam. Suppose you don’t have a computer or don’t want to take the online course. In that case, you can also take the California Office of Administrative Law (OAL) drone pilot certification test. This test is available in English and Spanish, and it requires you to have completed an FAA-approved training program. After passing the test, you must take another written test and pass an FAA knowledge exam. If neither option works for you, you can apply for a waiver from the FAA. A waiver allows you to fly drones without obtaining a license, but it is more challenging to get one than getting a license from an Authorized Center.


In today’s world, drones are becoming increasingly popular for various reasons. These tiny aircraft have endless possibilities and applications, from capturing stunning aerial footage to delivering packages. If you want to get your hands on a drone but don’t know where to start, this article will teach you everything you need to know about getting a drone license in California. By following the steps outlined in this article, you’ll be well on your way to owning your very own drone!