What to do before selling a drone [A complete guide]

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There’s nothing more exciting than a new drone release. There are plenty of reasons why you may want to upgrade your drone. It may be that you want an extended flight time, maybe you want a better camera, whatever it is trading up is always a great option if your budget allows. Upgrading your drone is an exciting prospect but sometimes it means that you have to dispose of or sell your current drone to fund the new purchase all because you don’t need two drones. In this article, we’re going to go over everything you need to know about what to do before selling a drone and how you can get the best price for it.

There is no need to do anything with the drone other than remove your personal photos and videos from the internal memory. You may want to clean up the drone and also remove it from any official registrations against your name so the new owner cannot get you into trouble.

You do not need to unregister your drone with the manufacturer as most drones simply require the new owner to create an account and then connect to the drone that they have just purchased. Of course, selling your drone is not the only option. Let’s take a quick look at that now.

Should you sell your drone?

You do not necessarily need to sell your drone if you want it to help you pay for your current purchase. Owning multiple drones means that you may be able to rent it out for use by independent content creators and earn a passive income by lending out your drone at a reasonable daily rental rate. This means that the drone will be able to bring in a small amount of money for you to help you purchase your next drone.

You could use DJI’s trade up service

Another option for you other than selling is to use DJI’s trade up service. This service allows you to trade in your current DJI drone and receive in-store credits towards the purchase of your new DJI drone.

You almost certainly won’t get as much money for your drone using this service but if you want it to proceed smoothly using this service means you don’t have to deal with annoying buyers or customer service when people are asking for information about the drone.

If you don’t mind a little bit of administrative work and dealing with customers I think that the best route is for you to sell your drone privately which means that someone gets a drone for a reasonable price and you get to use more money to purchase the drone of your dreams.

If you decide to sell your drone using a private transaction via an online marketplace here are the steps that you need to take to make your selling experience easy and effective.

The steps to take

Selling your drone privately can mean that prospective buyers want a complete run down on the features and quality or condition of the drone they are buying. To get a buyers perspective on what they are looking for and how to be proactive check out my other article – how to buy a secondhand drone – 50 part checklist which includes a free download of the checklist – click here to be taken to the article.

The first thing you need to do is start by thinking about the ideal purchaser of your current drone and ask for feedback from your friends about what they think about your offer and drone.

Put the potential customer first

The first thing I would do before selling a drone is start thinking about who would purchase your drone and what they would be looking for. My secondhand drone guide is a great place to start if you are not sure about what a secondhand drone buyer would be thinking.

If you are unsure about the sort of person may want to buy your drone think back to the reasons why you purchased it in the first place. What was it about the drone that made you want to purchase this drone and how did you make your decision. This will tell you the most important things to highlight in any online advertisement that you place but also it will help you be proactive in the source of details you can provide to potential buyers to fill them with confidence in purchasing your drone.

For example, when I was buying my secondhand DJI Mavic air I wanted a drone that I could pack down into a small volume so that I can carry it with me every day. The sort of person that would want to buy my current drone is someone that wants to experience what flying a drone is like but is not willing to spend over $1000 on a gadget for capturing aerial footage – just like me when I was looking for a drone.

Now that you have an idea of the potential customer and what they would want you should take a note of these details.

Take a note of these details:

Before selling your drone you need to make sure that you are aware of the sorts of metrics that potential buyers would want to know about before purchasing your drone. The first one that is very important is the number of flights and flight time that the drone has completed.

Flight time

Drones are small electronic gadgets which have a limited life dictated by how often they are used. Grabbing an estimated flight time of your drone will give the potential buyer an idea of how well use the drone is.

It’s not easy to grab your flight time but in the DJI go for at you can click on the top right-hand corner and select flight record to have a look at the total number of flight hours your drone has and the number of flight times. If you have updated your app or phone you may not have the full number of flights that you have completed.

The DJI drones also store a file which may be able write some information about the number of flights and flight time that has been recorded by the drone. It would require putting the information into a software that can read the.DAT files.

Alternatively, you can use the number of battery cycles to estimate how long the drone has been in the air.

Number of battery cycles

For each battery you are able to see the number of battery cycles that the drone has been through. Because the drones require charging between each flight this will give you an estimate of the total amount of time that the drone has been in the air.

You are able to see how many times each battery has been charged by checking the number of charge cycles in the DJI Go 4 app.

All you have to do is click the top three dots in the top right-hand corner and then click details – this will tell you how many times the battery has been charged as well as the production date for example in my image you can see that it has been charged 29 times and it was produced in June 2018. It is exactly this sort of information that actual buyers want to see about your drone.

If you have multiple batteries the buyer will want to see the information for each battery.

Note any DJI refresh packages

If you have purchased a DJI drone that comes with a refresh package the refresh package is linked to the drone and not to the user. Therefore if you have purchased a DJI refresh package for your drone and not used it this is another attractive thing which means you can command a higher price for your drone.

Clean up the outside

Because drones are flown outside in the elements they can sometimes get dirty and scratched up a little bit. This is all part of normal wear and tear on a drone.

There are some things that you can do to spruce up your drone to make sure that it looks as best as possible for photographs to attract the best buyers for your drone.

Cleaning up the outside of the drone can be done with a damp cloth and a small amount of low side detergent. You do not want the water to enter the electronic component so I must stress that this needs to be a very lightly damped cloth.

Immediately dry the area that you have white with a clean dry microfibre towel or cloth. I also recommend that you do the same to the propellers while they are not on the drone.

If the drone has come into contact with any insects I would spend a fair bit of time making sure that any insect blood or guts is cleaned off the drone body and arms with a small cotton swab dipped in a light detergent.

If you notice that the propellers are a little bit worn I would recommend purchasing a new set for the potential buyer – is nothing like a new set of propellers in the ad to show that you care about the product that you are going to sell them.

Delete any photos/videos on the internal storage

Many drones come with internal storage which you can use to store your files if you have forgotten to bring an SD card. Plug in the drone directly to your computer to access the internal storage – for example the DJI Mavic series comes with about 8 GB of high-speed internal storage – and delete all of the files that you want to keep private.

There is also a way to format the file system from the DJI Go 4 app which you can access through the menu button.

Format the SD card

If you are selling your drone with an SD card you should format the SD card either at your computer or through the DJI Go 4 app. You don’t necessarily have to format the SD card but you can do so to add an extra level of security for yourself and the potential buyer. Note this formatting in the advertisement.

You don’t necessarily have to sell your drone with the SD card but, from a buyer’s perspective, everything that can be included which means they can fly the drone as soon as possible will make the advertisement more attractive to them.

Delete your drone from your registration

One of the things that many people forget when they sell a drone is that they need to deregister their drone or remove the drone from their registration with their governing body such as the FAA.

According to the FAA rules any drone that weighs between 0.55 and £55 needs to be registered. This changes from country to country but it’s approximately the same for many countries. This rule applies to both recreational and commercial users although in some countries, such as Australia, if you are a commercial drone pilot you need to undergo further training and registrations.

The registering a drone means that the new owner cannot get you into trouble if they decide to fly in some restricted airspace such as near airports or government security buildings. The registering your drone with the governing body is surprisingly easy.

How do I unregister my drone?

To deregister a drone that you’re about to sell all you have to do is log onto your account at the FAA DroneZone Website and in your dashboard click the option “Manage sUAS Inventory”.

This will take you to a full list of drones that are registered under your name and account stop all you have to do is navigate to the drone that you are selling and select the option to cancel that drone.this remove the drone and you will need to fill out a short form in which you would explain why you are cancelling the registration of this drone.

Some jurisdictions require that you put registration numbers on drones and you should be sure to remove any marks of the registration number from the drone that you are selling.

After you have done all of this preliminary work it’s time to take some great photos of the drone so that you can attract a good number of buyers that are willing to pay a reasonable price.

Take some great photos of:

Before selling a drone you need to make sure your drone looks at good as possible and attractive to the right buyer. This is as easy as taking some high-quality photos of the drone body, arms, propellers, and any accessories that you are selling with the drone.


Take photos of the body of the drone and especially of the underside. The underside of the drone is where a lot of different scratches and wear and tear can occur. Showing the underside of the drone means that you are able to guarantee the buyer that you have not been overly rough nor has the drone been flown in dusty or rocky areas.

I also like to do close-ups of the camera lens and sensors so that the buyer can be confident that all of the senses are working well with eight scratches on the covers.


If the drone has been through any significant issues the arms is where the majority of the damage can occur. Therefore take individual photos of each of the arms of the drone so that they can see there are no cracks or potentially fatal issues with the arms connecting to the drone body.


I like to take close-up images of the propellers and the motor bodies as well. The motor bodies can collect a fair amount of dust if the drone is flown in dusty environments regularly therefore doing a close-up will provide the potential buyers with confidence that the motor is still functioning well and is free of debris.

The remote control

take an image of the remote control. As you are aware, the remote control is the only connection you have to the aircraft while it is in flight. Therefore showing that the remote control is in good working order free of any damaging marks will show the potential buyers that all aspects of the drone have been well looked after.


Also include any potential accessories which you will be throwing in with the drone purchase. This includes any extra batteries or cables and third-party add-ons you have purchased specifically for the model of drone you are selling.

How do I sell my drone?

There are plenty of places that you can list your drone for sale. Here are a quick run down of some of the best places you can use.

Online Marketplace

Online marketplaces such as eBay, Facebook, Craigslist, gumtree, or other places where people sell secondhand goods are fantastic option. The most popular type of marketplace depends on the country and area that you are living so check that marketplace for drones before listing yours.

You can also reach out to drone hobby groups and they will be able to tell you where the best place to sell your drone is.


Drone trader is one of the best online marketplaces for selling your used drones. It has a very targeted arty and is – i.e., the people that are looking for drones to buy – and it gives you a much higher likelihood of selling your secondhand drone. There is also a handy app if you want to sell your drone from your phone. This allows you to message potential buyers and also save your favourite ads for future reference.


In this article we have been through everything you need to do before selling your drone. There is surprisingly little you need to do with the actual drone itself and there is much more work around preparing your drone to make it attractive for potential buyers. Using an online marketplace such as eBay, Facebook marketplace, Craigslist, or gumtree as well as the specialised drone trader site is one of the best options for you to sell your secondhand drone.

The Author

Dr Andrew Stapleton is a Drone pilot, Writer and YouTuber with a PhD in science. His drone footage has been featured on TV (ABC Documentary) and he has written and/or produced videos for Science Alert, COSMOS magazine, and Australia's Science Channel among others. He has been a drone pilot for many years and has flown many types of drones.