Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

Aeronautics and Aviation

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) or Drones: Commercial UAS Operators

Picture of a Drone

UAS Commercial Operators

What is a UAS commercial operator?

The Minnesota Rules define a commercial operation as any operation of an aircraft for compensation or hire, or any services performed incidental to the operation of any aircraft for which a fee is charged or compensation received.

As an example, a photographer using a UAS to take wedding pictures for a client is a commercial operator even if they don’t charge extra for the use of the UAS.

Commercial operations license

Minnesota law requires commercial operators to obtain a commercial operations license before they advertise, represent, or hold themselves out as giving or offering to provide this service. To get a commercial operations license the applicant must submit an application along with a certificate of insurance that meets the requirements of Minnesota Rule 8800.3200, Subp. 15.

The licensing fee is $30 and requires proof of aircraft insurance coverage. Learn more about the licensing process and access forms.

Federal rules, restrictions & requirements

If you want to fly your UAS for commercial use, you have two options:

Fly using FAA “Part 107” rules

Apply for a Certificate of Authorization

If you want to operate UAS for commercial use outside of the 14 CFR, Part 107 rules, you may apply for a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization. For more information on governmental UAS rules, restrictions and requirements, visit the FAA website.

Aircraft registration

All aircraft registered with the FAA must register with MnDOT and pay an annual registration fee in the State of Minnesota. To complete registration of the aircraft, the owner is required to show proof that sales tax has been paid and provide insurance information.  Use the FAA registration number in the first blank on the form that starts with “N-“. 

Where can I fly?

Although not required, it is good practice for business aircraft operators (part 107 users) to contact affected airports when flying. A smartphone application such as B4Ufly and AirMap help users to identify the airports near them. The best location for contact information for the airport operator is Airport IQ 5010.