Agencies Responsible for regulating drones in the Kingdom of Belgium
UAS Laws – General rules for flying drones in Belgium
The Belgian agency responsible for drone safety, FPS, has provided several internet-accessible details on flying for fun or work. The highlights are enumerated below. For more details go to the link above.
Flying and operating drones in Belgium are subject to European Union Regulation 2019/947. The FPS supervises and implements the Regulation in Belgium. This reform aims to create a truly harmonized drone market in Europe with the highest level of safety. In practice, it means that once a drone Οperator has received authorization from its state of registry, they will be allowed to circulate in the European Union freely. According to the level of risk involved, this new legal framework will introduce three categories of drone operations: Open, Specific and Certified
Drone operations are to be conducted according to the Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/945 and Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/947 (as amended).
Are drones allowed in Belgium?
According to FPS, drones are allowed in Belgium, subject to FPS and EASA regulations. Read on for details.
Here are the most important EASA rules to know for flying a drone in Belgium:
Drone operators must register all drones in Belgium. Following registration, you must adhere to the following rules.
- Drones may fly up to 50 meters (170 feet) above ground or sea level in the Open category and up to 120 meters (400 feet) in the Special category. (The STA may grant exemptions to operators of special category drones.)
- Direct visual contact with the drone is required, and the operating distance should not exceed 500 meters.
- Avoid flying too close to residential areas or populated areas.
- Maintain a safety buffer zone of one kilometer around residential areas.
- Unless the owner/person consents, a safety distance of 500 meters from isolated buildings, people, vehicles, animals, and structures is required.
- Avoid flying near airports and heliports. Stay a minimum of eight (8) kilometers away from airports and three (3) kilometers from heliports for safety.
- At no time is it permissible to fly a drone at night.
- There shall be no flying over, within, or near military installations, public utility installations, archaeological sites, or public or private facilities.
Given the low level of risk, neither prior authorization by the competent authority nor a declaration by the drone operator is required. The drone’s total takeoff mass must be less than 25kg, and it must be operated within a visual line of sight at a maximum altitude of 120m.
Considering the moderate level of risk involved, flights in this category require authorization before the operation. The permission is given considering the mitigation measures identified in an operational risk assessment, except in specific standard scenarios where an operator declaration is sufficient.
Given the inherent dangers, certification of the drone and a licensed remote pilot are required. If your drone is capable of carrying people, you fall under the Certified category!
EASA Summary of Drone Flight Operation Requirements
Note for foreign operators
Operator Registration (Non-EU Residents)
- If you are coming from a non-EU country and this is the first time you will fly your drone in an EU country, you MUST register as an Operator.
- Upon registration, you will receive a unique Operator Registration number which you MUST attach to your drone. If you have several drones, the same number must be attached to all of them.
- You are not allowed to fly in NO FLY ZONES, and you must keep aways a minimum of 8km distance away from airports/heliports.
- If you already conducted operations in another EU country before going to Belgium, you must not register again. You always register to the first non-EU country you have conducted flights
Remote Pilot Certificate (Non-EU Residents)
- If you want to fly your drone in Belgium and live in a non-EU country, you must hold a Remote Pilot Certificate issued from an EU country.
- You can get the A1/A3 Certificate by registering with the online Remote Pilot School.
- The online training and exam are required for those who want to fly a drone in the ‘Open’ category in subcategories A1/A3.
- The pass mark is 75%, and you have 3 tries in total to pass.
- Once you pass your exam, you will receive your remote pilot certificate. Its validity will be 5 years.
- You must have your Remote Pilot Certificate in your possession whenever you plan to perform drone operations in Belgium and present it when asked by the authorities.
How to register as a drone pilot or operator in Belgium?
According to European Regulation (EU) 2019/947, registration is mandatory for UAS operators (not for UAS themselves).
The UAS Pilot, also known as the Remote Pilot (RP), is the person physically behind the UAS flight controls. They are fully responsible for the safety of the flight throughout operations.
The UAS Operator is the person or company who oversees operations and gives flight instructions. This person or legal entity bears all responsibility for the operations of the drone (s) on their behalf. Very often, in the OPEN category and as an individual, the Pilot and the Operator are the same person.
Who should register?
As part of the OPEN category, registration is compulsory for operators:
- UAS that have a mass of 250 g or more;
- UAS that have a mass of less than 250 g but:
- are able to operate at speeds greater than 90km / h
- are equipped with a camera or a microphone, if these UAS are NOT toys *
* A UAS is a toy when a manufacturer intends it for children under the age of 14 and meets the minimum safety criteria required to be so named. Compliance with these standards naturally limits the capabilities of the UAS (size, weight, non-dangerous spare parts, no powerful motor, etc.): see Directive 2009/48 / EC of 18 June 2009 on the safety of toys
Under the SPECIFIC category, registration is compulsory for all operators.
Natural persons can only register in the country where they reside.
Legal persons must register in the country where their principal place of business is located.
Registration can only be done in one Member State at a time.
How do you register in Belgium for drone operations?
The operator registration procedure begins at the online FPS registration link
This UAS operator registration number is valid for one year and must therefore be renewed periodically following the same procedure. The operator therefore always uses the same number unless the latter is permanently deregistered from the register.
Here are the pre-existing transitional FPS rules to know for flying a drone in Belgium:
Belgium classifies the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) as follows:
Private use: This category encompasses all drones weighing less than one kilogram at takeoff. The drone must not fly higher than ten meters and must only fly above private ground in this category.
Model airplanes: Aircraft weighing between 1 and 150 kilograms (model airplanes) may only take off for private purposes on an official model airfield and maintain their flight altitudes.
Class 2 drone flights: This category includes maneuvers up to 45 meters (150 feet) in altitude outside of cities and towns and outside of controlled airspace. Drones in this category may weigh no more than 5 kilograms and flown in direct view of the pilot.
Class 1b drone flights: Outside of controlled airspace, class 1b drone flights are allowed to a height of 90 meters (300 feet) above ground. You must maintain a minimum distance of 50 meters (165 feet) between your drone and people or objects on the ground.
Class 1a drone flights: Outside of controlled airspace, class 1a drone flights may fly to a height of 90 meters above the ground. You may fly over people in this class.
The following are some regulations regarding flying a drone in Belgium:
- Maintain a 50-meter safe flight distance from groups of people, but also goods.
- Additionally, you must maintain a safe distance from roads or highways. Additionally, flying on aviation flight routes is prohibited.
- At all times, stay at least 3 kilometers away from airports.
- Never fly more than ten meters above the ground.
- Maintain visual contact with your drone.
- Avoid flying your drone at night as well, as this makes it more challenging to keep a close eye on it.
- Respect the privacy of others
- Verify your insurance coverage.
A form is available for registering a drone. For foreign pilots who have already registered their drone in another country, there are some exceptions.
You must complete a theory course and pass a practical flight test before becoming a commercial pilot. Upon successful completion, you will receive either a Certificate of Competence (class 2) or a Remote Pilot License, depending on the class of operation (class 1b and 1a). Insurance is required for drones classified as classes 2 and 1. However, even for private drone use, we recommend adequate coverage.
Additionally, for flights classified as 1b or 1a, you must prepare an operating manual and risk analysis. Report your flights in these categories to the BCAA in advance.
Flights in classes 2, 1b, and 1a must be documented in a logbook.
You must possess a BCAA-issued certificate of competence. To earn this certificate, you must complete a theory course and pass a practical skill test administered by a BCAA-certified examiner. The following chart from the BCAA illustrates the various requirements for various types of drone operations in Belgium:
Restricted areas for flying drones in Belgium
- Controlled airspaces
- Low flying areas
- Steer 1 Km away from Helipads and helicopter training areas
- Industrial installations
- Military zones
- Nuclear power plants
- Around an airport (not closer than 1.5 nautical miles) 3 Km
As a remote pilot, you must ensure:
- Your takeoff area, flight path, and landing area are not in the course of people, obstacles, or ground-based property.
- Your drone flight path is clear of obstacles that could obstruct the remote pilot’s direct line of sight view.
- You fly in drone-accessible areas and adhere to the Royal Decree of April 10, 2016.
- You land immediately if you see a plane or helicopter approaching your flight path.
The severity of the penalty or punishment imposed for violating the drone laws will depend on your compliance gap. In addition, the judge will determine whether you committed the offense intentionally or as part of your commercial operation.
Note For Foreign Operators
If you’re traveling to Belgium and want to bring your drone, it must be registered in the Belgian aviation register. However, if your drone is already registered in another country, you do not need to re-register your drone.
Notes for recreational drone pilots flying for fun in Belgium
Not used for commercial purposes:
- You must comply with the ‘Royal Decree RPAS (April 10, 2016)’.
- Maintain visual contact with the drone at all times.
- Maintain a safe distance from people, animals, and commercial property at all times.
- Always be considerate of others’ privacy.
- Only conduct business on private property
- You are not permitted to operate from the clouds, above crowds, industrial areas, urban areas, and other restricted areas.
- No flying at altitudes greater than ten meters or with a drone weighing more than one kilogram
Private insurance covering all recreational drone activities is strongly recommended.
See general EASA rules above.
Notes for Commercial Drone Services operations in Belgium
Utilized in commercial, scientific, or manufacturer testing applications, You are required to:
- Consistently apply the ‘Royal Decree RPAS (April 10, 2016)’.
- Register your drone on a national level and obtain an identification plate, a visible drone identification number on the fuselage, and a Drone Pilot Certificate.
- Pass a written and practical examination
- Possess Third Party Liability insurance with a limit of EUR 1 million
- Constantly adhere to privacy and data protection laws.
- You are not allowed to:
- In restricted areas, fly
- Unless otherwise authorized, do not fly over populated areas.
- Have a flight control system that is entirely manual or completely automatic
- Fly at a minimum altitude of 90 meters
See general EASA rules above.
Useful published information on flying drones in Belgium
Here is a sample of what you might expect if you follow the drone laws and fly in Belgium…
NOTE: Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (SUAS), Small UAS, Remote Piloted Aerial Systems (RPAS), unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), and drone are interchangeable terms unless specified. Model aircraft, toy aircraft, Remote controlled aircraft, and RC aircraft may be covered by the same regulations unless specified.
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