What You Need to Know If You’re Getting a Drone for the Holidays

The FAA is requiring hobbyist operators to register online.

— -- If you’re one of the 400,000 Americans getting a drone this holiday, wrapped up in that box are a few responsibilities you might not have realized.

For the first 30 days, registration is free, Foxx said. After that, it’ll cost you $5.

Each operator will be given a certificate and registration number, good for three years, which they must affix to each drone they fly. There’s no limit to the number of drones per registered operator.

Operators who purchased drones before Dec. 21 must register by Feb. 19, 2016; those who purchased drones after Dec. 21 must register before their first outdoor flight, said Foxx.

Today’s announcement comes amid mounting concerns over close encounters with aircraft, as well as a number of high-profile incidents, including a drone crash at the U.S. Open and another at the White House.

“The incidents where we've seen aircraft flying near airports or around other aircraft, we believe are largely due to people not understanding the rules,” FAA Deputy Administrator Michael Whitaker told ABC News' David Kerley today. “The registration will create an opportunity to provide that basic education, but it will also create accountability, so that when a drone is located that has been flying improperly, we'll be able to locate the owner.”

If you don’t register, the FAA can fine you up to $27,500 -- but for now, the agency says, it’s focused on compliance, not punishment.

“There's nothing that would require an enforcement action if we can just get someone to do what they’re supposed to do,” Whitaker told reporters today. “For blatant violations or other bad acts, we do have both civil and criminal enforcement opportunities available to us.”

The FAA is partnering with drone manufacturers, who have agreed to highlight registration in package inserts, as well as several local NFL teams, who will run public service announcements during home games.

But not everyone is happy about the registration requirement.

The Academy of Model Aeronautics, a group that challenged the FAA’s authority to oversee unmanned model aircraft in court in 2014, said it was “disappointed” in the new rule, calling it an “unnecessary burden” for its members.