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FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate Application Process
If you want to fly drones for any reason other than "strictly recreational purposes;" and you've prepared for the FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot test and are ready to pass it, then it's time to apply for your FAA Remote Pilot certificate.
The process of applying for a Remote Pilot certificate (or any FAA certificate or license that involves a test) is somewhat counterintuitive and confusing to new drone pilots because you create (or already have) an account with the FAA and an FTN (FAA Tracking Number) before you can even register for the exam.
If you have earned any FAA certificate since 2003, when FAA first started using IACRA (the FAA's Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application system), then you already have an FTN and should use that existing number when applying for your Remote Pilot Certificate. Otherwise, your first step to becoming certificated will be to create an IACRA account.
Before investing time preparing for your Part 107 test or spending money on a Part 107 training course, however, make sure that you meet the FAA's eligibility requirements for a remote pilot certificate. Assuming that you meet the requirements, let's look at the application process step by step.
Step 1: Create an IACRA Account
Unless you already have one, will need to open an IACRA account with the FAA and obtain an FTN before you register for the examination.
As mentioned earlier, IACRA is an abbreviation for the FAA's "Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application" system. This is the system that anyone seeking an airman certificate or rating of any kind uses to apply for their certificate or rating. It is also the system that you will use to keep your contact information up-to-date once you obtain your certificate, or to apply for new FAA certificates or ratings in the future if you decide to do so.
In short, you will use the same IACRA account and FTN number for the rest of your aviation career; so make sure that you write them down and store them in a secure place.
Unlike most things in aviation, there is no cost to create an IACRA account nor to apply for your certificate. You'll have to pay the testing center when you take your Part 107 test, but you don't have to pay the FAA anything. Simply go to https://iacra.faa.gov and click the "Register" link, truthfully answer all the questions, and submit the application. Once you've done this, congratulations! You're on your way to getting your Part 107 license.
Step 2: Locate and Write Down Your FTN Number
Once your application is approved and your account created, log in and make a note of your FTN number. That stands for "FAA Tracking Number," and it will remain the same for as long as you're in aviation. You will need that number to register for the Part 107 test, as well as to apply for any FAA certificates you may seek in the future.
Your FTN number will not be the same as your Remote Pilot certificate number. Every certificate you ever earn from the FAA will have a unique number. Your FTN number, however, will always remain the same no matter how many FAA licenses or certificates you obtain.
Step 3: Register for the Examination
Once you've prepared for the Part 107 examination, whether by taking a Part 107 training course or by using self-study materials, it's time to register for the test. Note that although you only have to be 14 years old to take the test, you can't receive your Remote Pilot certificate until you're 16.
Except in very unusual situations, you will take your FAA Knowledge Test at a testing center operated by a private company. At the time of this writing, the company the FAA uses is PSI Testing Services. You will need to register for an account with PSI, and then register to take the UAG: Unmanned Aircraft General - Small test.
If the form asks what your authorization to take the test is, the answer is "none." Most FAA aeronautical knowledge tests have a training requirement to be able to sit for the test; but as of this revision (on May 28, 2023), the Remote Pilot test does not. I still recommend that you take Part 107 training if you have no previous aviation experience, but you're not legally required to do so. If anyone tells you otherwise, then they're either lying or misinformed.
Finally, schedule a date for the test and pay the fee.
There are no refunds if you fail the test, and you'll have to wait 14 days and pay the testing fee again to retake it if you fail; so make sure you're ready to pass before you register for the exam.
Step 4: Take the Test
You will have to provide valid ID to take the test. Most people use a driver's license, learner's permit, or state non-driver ID card. Other acceptable documents include a passport, Resident Alien ID card ("Green Card"), or an Armed Forces ID Card.
Note that your identification document(s) must bear your photo, date of birth, signature, and physical residential address. If you have no one document that has all that information, you can use multiple documents; and if you are a minor, you can use your parents' identity documents to verify your address.
You can read more about acceptable ways to verify your identity and residence to the testing center and the FAA here.
The test will be administered using a computer and a paper test supplement that the proctor will hand you. I suggest you buy the test supplement in paper form before you take the test so you'll know where to quickly find the information when you take the exam. But you don't need to bring it with you for the test (and in fact won't be allowed to). I also have a page of additional Remote Pilot test-day tips that you want to read before taking the test.
You'll receive your test results from the test proctor within minutes after submitting the completed exam, along with a printed test report. It may take several hours (or occasionally several days) before the FAA's database is updated with your results, however.
If you fail the test, you will have to wait at least 14 days and pay the testing fee again to retake it. I suggest you spend that time taking a Part 107 training course if, sadly, you fail the test the first time around.
Step 5: Apply for Your FAA Part 107 Certificate
Once you've passed the test, you'll need to log in to your IACRA account and apply for the certificate. The FAA has incredibly detailed instructions about how to do that here. The basic procedure, however, is:
- Click "Start New Application" if you didn't begin the application when you opened your IACRA account.
- Select "Pilot" from the drop-down list.
- Click on "Remote Pilot."
- Make sure that all the information that is pre-filled is correct, and answer any additional questions.
- For "Basis of Issuance," enter your identity document information and the Test ID Number on the printout you received from the testing center.
- Answer the rest of the questions, and digitally sign and submit the application.
Once you submit your application, the TSA will do a background check to determine whether you're on any terror watch lists or have any disqualifying criminal convictions. You can get a list of the disqualifying offenses here. This stage of the process typically takes a few days to complete.
If you already possess a pilot or other FAA airman certificate, then this stage is basically a rubber stamp because you've already been screened by TSA.
A few days after you clear the TSA threat assessment, you will receive an email from FAA informing you that your temporary certificate is ready to print. The temporary certificate is valid for 120 days. You can download it as a PDF, print it on paper, sign it, carry it, and use it until your permanent certificate card arrives in the mail.
Keeping Your Remote Pilot Privileges Current
Like FAA pilot certificates in general, your Part 107 Remote Pilot certificate will have no expiration date. You cannot exercise the privileges, however, unless you have either passed the knowledge test or completed recurrent training within the past 24 calendar months. At the time of this writing, you can take the the FAA Part 107 Recurrent Training Course online. There currently is no charge to take recurrent training directly from the FAA.
Revised May 28, 2023