Information on Drones

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The City of San Clemente is currently working with the County of Orange to develop a County-wide ordinance on Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), or drones, which is intended to be adopted locally by each municipality.  Upon adoption of any new local ordinance regulating drone operations, some of the regulations, outlined below, may no longer apply, at which time this web page will be updated to reflect new regulations.

An Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS), commonly referred to as a drone, is an unmanned aircraft and the equipment necessary for the safe and efficient operation of that aircraft. An unmanned aircraft is a component of a UAS. It is defined by statute as an aircraft that is operated without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the aircraft (Public Law 112-95, Section 331(8)). It is the responsibility of the drone operator to understand and abide by the rules established by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Federal law requires that all aircraft (which includes UAS and radio/remote controlled aircraft) flown outdoors must be registered with the FAA and marked with a registration number. UAS weighing more than 0.55 pounds and less than 55 pounds may register online at The weight limit includes everything that is on board or otherwise attached to the aircraft at the time of takeoff.   

Please note: You must have the FAA registration certificate in your possession when operating an unmanned aircraft. The certificate can be available either on paper or electronically. If another person operates your UAS, they must have the UAS registration certificate in their possession. You can give them a paper copy or email a copy to them. If you fly a drone indoors, you do not need to register your drone. However, when flying in public, as well as in your own yard or over your property, you will need to register your drone with the FAA if it weighs more than 0.55 pounds.  Failure to register an unmanned aircraft may result in regulatory and criminal penalties. The FAA may assess civil penalties up to $27,500. Criminal penalties include fines of up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment for up to three years.

For more information, resources and rules associated with flying drones, please visit the FAA’s website at

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the operation of drones in the City of San Clemente, please contact Adam Atamian, Interim Code Compliance Supervisor, at (949) 361-6191 or  To submit a complaint about the use of drones in the City, please call (949) 466-4705 or visit to submit a complaint online.  To report an emergency related to the operation of a drone, please contact San Clemente Police Services at 911 or their non-emergency dispatch line at (949) 770-6011.