The FAA has been working on establishing rules and regulations for drone owners for several months, and today they have announced a mandatory registration law for drone operators that goes into effect on December 21 of this year. Starting on December 21, you will be to apply at the new FAA registration website.
In their press release this morning, the FAA specified who the new law applies to.
for owners of small unmanned aircraft (UAS) weighing more than 0.55 pounds (250 grams) and less than 55 pounds (approx. 25 kilograms) including payloads such as on-board cameras.
Owners will only have to register once, and the registration will be good for three years. The normal registration cost will be $5, but to encourage compliance, the FAA will be waiving the registration fee for the first 30 days (from December 21, 2015 to January 20, 2016).
Make sure you get yourself registered and keep a copy of your proof of registration on you whenever you're operating your drone, or face hefty fines and potential criminal charges.
Failure to register an aircraft may result in regulatory and criminal sanctions. 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."
Currently, registration only applies to owners using their drones for "hobby or recreation" (so not for those of you who use them commercially, e.g., for weddings, architecture, etc.), though the FAA states that they are "developing enhancements that will allow such online registrations by spring of 2016."
Check out http://www.faa.gov/uas/registration/ for more information. They also have a pretty extensive FAQ section that is worth looking through if you have any questions.
IMPORTANT: it is unclear at this time if the new law will apply to owners of the much-lauded Parrot Jumping Mini Drone.