Drone Rules And Regulations

Drone Rules

The UK’s drone rules are based on the risk of the flight – where you fly, the proximity to other people, and the size and weight of your drone.

The rules don’t apply if you are flying indoors. Flights within buildings, or within areas where there is no possibility for the drone to escape into the open air (such as a closed netted structure) are not subject to aviation legislation.

Key rules include:

  • Never fly more than 120m (400ft) above the surface
  • Always keep your drone or model aircraft in sight
  • Never fly in an airport’s flight restriction zone unless you have permission

Registration and flyer ID

If your drone has a camera (unless it is a toy) or weighs 250g or more then you need to register with the CAA. You need to renew this registration every year. This is a registration of you as the operator rather than the drone itself.

Anyone flying a drone weighing 250g or more needs to pass a test and get a flyer ID from the CAA. This is free and online. Regardless of whether you legally need a flyer ID we strongly recommend that you do the learning and test as it gives you valuable information on flying your drone safely. If you already have a flyer ID that is still valid, you don’t need to re-do the test until it expires, although you are required to keep up to date with the new regulations. You can register, get your flyer ID and find more information at register-drones.caa.co.uk.

Drone Rules

Sub 250g Drones

If your drone is under 250g then there are some variations to some of the rules. If your drone has a camera then you must register as an operator but you do not have to complete the flyer ID test (although we strongly recommend that you do).

If you’re flying a drone or model aircraft that’s lighter than 250g, you can fly closer to people than 50m and you can fly over them, but you must not fly over crowds.

When you’re thinking about how close you can fly, remember, you must never put people in danger. Even small drones and model aircraft could injure people if you don’t fly them safely. You must also follow all the other rules for drone flying.

CAA consider the following as flying objects, so they do not fall within the definition of a drone or remotely piloted aircraft:

  • Paper aeroplanes
  • Hand launched gliders, but only those with no moveable control surfaces or remote-control link
  • Frisbees, darts and other thrown toys

Airspace Restrictions

The airspace that drones and model aircraft fly in is shared with all other types of aviation. Before flying a drone or model aircraft, you must check for any airspace restrictions as part of your pre-flight planning. Temporary airspace restrictions are also frequently put in place across the UK. You can find out more on the CAA airspace information section.

The following information describes the core responsibilities of the operators of drone and model aircraft. While this will help you understand the minimum requirements, you must take necessary steps to inform yourself and make appropriate decisions about your responsibilities as an operator.

Using A Drone Commercially

There is no distinction between flying commercially and flying for pleasure or recreation. This means that an approval just to operate commercially is not required. However, all commercial drone flights require valid insurance cover.

Any further requirements will be dictated by the category of the flight.

Operations under the Specific category will require an Operational Authorisation from the CAA.

If you are flying as part of a business or as a freelancer then you should carefully read more detailed guidance from the CAA.

The operator is the person or organisation that organises and manages how a drone or model aircraft is used.

They are legally accountable for the safe management of the aircraft and must decide the necessary level of preparation, training, planning and oversight for the conditions and circumstances of flights. This includes flights they carry out themselves or that are carried out by anyone else using the operator’s aircraft.

Relationship – Responsibilities

The pilot is responsible for carrying out the flight safely within the management framework set out by the operator.

Operators must make sure they have effective management oversight for all flights using their aircraft.

Clubs and associations and the role of operator
For a club or association to undertake the role of operator with its members as remote pilots, the club or association would need to have considerable management oversight of its members’ aircraft. We think this would be hard to achieve in practice.

Since the legal identity of the operator must be clear, organisations or clubs without a formal legal status are unlikely to be able to meet the operator requirements.

Drones over 250g

Obtain a Flyer ID and Operator ID: Register with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to acquire a Flyer ID, which demonstrates you have passed a basic flying test, and an Operator ID, your registration number to be displayed on your drone.

Review and adhere to UK drone laws: Familiarize yourself with the UK drone regulations, which cover aspects such as altitude limits, maintaining a line of sight, restricted airspace, and flying near people or buildings.

Acquire additional certification:
Depending on your drone’s use (e.g., commercial purposes, aerial work, or flying in congested areas), you may need to obtain additional certification, such as the General Visual Line of Sight Certificate (GVC) or the A2 Certificate of Competency (A2 CofC).

Maintain insurance:
If you are using your drone for commercial purposes or any non-recreational reasons, you must have third-party liability insurance.

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