Drone Laws in France

Agencies Responsible for regulating drones in the French Republic (France)

Drone Regulator in France: French Civil Aviation Authority (FCAA)

EU Nations Drone Regulator and Regulations: European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA)

For a full explanation of EASA regulations simplified, please read our explainer: The rules for drone flyers in the European Union (Europe Drone Laws Simplified)

UAS Laws – General rules for flying drones in France

The French agency responsible for drone safety, FCAA, has provided several internet-accessible details on flying for fun or work. The highlights are enumerated below. For more details go to the links above.

As of 31st December 2020, national drone rules will be replaced by common European regulations. 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, he/she will be allowed to circulate freely in the European Union. 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 France?

According to FCAA, drones are allowed in France, subject to FCAA and EASA regulations. Read on for details.

Here are the most important rules to know for flying a drone in France:

Users of the following unmanned aircraft types are not subject to the new EU registration requirements:

  • An unmanned aircraft with a weight of fewer than 250 grams and not equipped with a camera or some other sensor capable of capturing personal data,
  • An unmanned aircraft that is considered to be a toy within the meaning of Directive 2009/48/EC,
  • Control line model aircraft with a maximum take-off mass of no more than 1 kg

All other Drone operators must register their drones in France. Registration costs 30€ for 1 year, 75€ for 3 years or 100€ for 5 years.

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 Specific category. (The Department of Civil Aviation may grant exemptions to operators of specific 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.

Open Category

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 be operated within a visual line of sight at a maximum altitude of 120m.

Specific Category

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.

Certified Category

Given the inherent dangers, certification of the drone and a licensed remote pilot are required. If your drone can carry people, you fall under the Certified category!

Remote ID

Drones weighing 800 grams or more must be equipped with a signaling device beginning 29 June 2020. It transmits the drone’s identification and flight information (coordinates, speed, and course) via radio signal at regular intervals (WIFI). 

EASA Summary of Drone Flight Operation Requirements

EASA Summary Table of Drone Flight Operation Requirements
EASA Summary Table 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 into the FCAA systems at the AlphaTango registration site.
  • 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 away a minimum of 8km distance away from airports/heliports.
  • You must not register again if you have already conducted operations in another EU country before going to France. 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 France and live in a non-EU country, you must hold a Remote Pilot Certificate from an EU country.
  • You can get the A1/A3 Certificate by registering with a 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 three attempts to pass.
  • Once you pass your exam, you will receive your remote pilot certificate. Its validity will be five years.
  • You must have your Remote Pilot Certificate in your possession whenever you plan to perform drone operations in France and present it when the authorities ask.

How to register as a drone pilot or operator in France?

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 individuals, the Pilot and the Operator are the same people.

Who should register?

As part of the OPEN category, registration is compulsory for operators:

  • UAS that has a mass of 250 g or more; 
  • UAS that has a mass of less than 250 g but:
    • can 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 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 France for drone operations?

The operator registration procedure begins at the online Alpha Tango registration link.

This UAS operator registration number is valid for one year and must be renewed periodically following the same procedure. The operator always uses the same number unless the latter is permanently deregistered from the register.

Notes for recreational drone pilots flying for fun in France

If you want to fly a drone by yourself as a hobby, and the drone weighs over 500 g, you need to read the self-study materials and pass an online theoretical knowledge examination. After the transitional period (from 1.1.2023), the requirement for passing the online theoretical knowledge examination is always when you fly a drone weighing more than 250 g. It is important to remember that in addition to the subcategory conditions and weight limitations, the UAS operator must always comply with the general ‘open’ category requirements (e.g., visual line of sight, maximum height) and valid airspace restrictions.

Private drone flying is permitted in France, but only under the conditions below. No special authorization is required:

  • Drone pilots who fly for leisure or recreation are exempt from training requirements if their drone weighs less than 800 grams. 
  • Drone pilots who wish to operate a remotely piloted aircraft weighing more than 800g for recreational purposes must complete training. 
  • This training may take the form of (1) the DGAC’s Fox AlphaTango course or (2) training provided by the FFAM or UFOLEP recognized as equivalent by the DGAC. 
  • Maximum Height Maximum 120m. Special approval is required for heights greater than 120m. 
  • There is no maximum distance, but the aircraft must always remain within the operator’s line of sight unless approval for a beyond-line-of-sight flight has been granted. 
  • There is no upper weight limit for take-off. 
  • Unless prior approval has been granted, operations must be conducted during the day. 
  • Labeling requirements are not mandatory but are strongly recommended. 
  • Liability insurance for drones is always required.

See general EASA rules above.

Notes for operating Commercial Drone Services in France

Commercial drone flying is permitted in France, but you must adhere to the rules outlined below and obtain authorization from the French FCAA:

  • Commercial drone pilots must adhere to several regulations in France. Among other requirements, you must pass French theory and practical tests and obtain various permits. 
  • Maximum elevation – Maximum 120m. Special approval is required above this level.
  • There is no maximum distance, but the aircraft must always remain within the operator’s line of sight unless approval for a beyond-line-of-sight flight has been granted. 
  • There is no upper weight limit for take-off. 
  • A license is necessary. 
  • Unless prior approval has been granted, conduct operations during the day. 
  • Labeling requirements are not mandatory but are strongly recommended. Liability insurance for drones is always required.

See the general EASA rules above.

What you must know about France No Fly Zones or No Drone Zones

You need to know if you can operate your drone, under what limitations, whether authorizations are required, and how to get those authorizations.

We encourage you to read our explainer for more details on this topic here: Explainer – What You Must Know About No Fly Zones or No Drone Zones

Useful published information on flying drones in France

Here is a sample of what you might expect if you follow the drone laws and fly in France…

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, remote-controlled, and RC aircraft may be covered by the same regulations unless specified.

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Traveling with a Drone?

Click here to read our Comprehensive Guide For Traveling With A Drone.


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The content on this site (The latest Drone Laws/Drone Regulations) is collated by volunteers from public general information. This material is not presented as legal advice of any kind, and we cannot guarantee that the information is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. Do not substitute the information you find here for legal advice from a licensed attorney who is authorized to practice in the jurisdiction. When in doubt, contact the local aviation authority responsible for drone safety, utilize a licensed drone service operator, and/or consult a qualified attorney.

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22 thoughts on “Drone Laws in France”

    • This regulation applies to drones in France.
      Article 2 Scope’ ‘Model aircraft with an MTOM of less than 20 kg’ is exempt from the regulation. (MTOM meaning maximum take-off mass)
      It has been interpreted to mean that recreation operations with drones under 20kg are exempt, but for commercial operations there are no exemptions.
      To be extra cautious we recommend you get proper legal advice on the specific of your operation.

  1. Hi,

    I am Sean from China. My company is a drone light show company, and our drone weight with battery is 520g, we are planning to fly 1000 drone swarms in France, are these drones need to be registered? Does the pilot need a special certification? do we need to first register a company in France? What else do we need to do?

    Best regard.


    • Sean, this is a special use case which would have to be approved by the regulator under specific rules. Please contact the regulator (link to their website is at the top of the page).

  2. I’m the owner of a DJI Mini 2 I’ve registered myself as an operator and registered my aircraft. My understanding is that there is an annual fee for flying my drone and I am quite happy to pay it. HOWEVER, throughout the process I have seen nowhere to pay this fee. Will I get an invoice and then pay it? Can anyone advise me if I can pay it now then how?

  3. Good afternoon, I’m a non EU resident currently my drone and Fly ID is in the UK, I also have a french ID do I have to register my drone in France as well?

  4. Can you help me please? I am after a drone for me and my grandson,it’s only about 300grs. Can you please tell me if I need a licence to fly it in France?

    • For most consumer grade smaller drones under 250g you will not need to register or have a license to fly. If the drone is under 250g and equipped with a camera, or over 250g, and you are mostly doing simple hobby type flights you will only need to register. For more complex operations, see above.

  5. Hi Merlin,

    If I had registered in Italy, then I do not need to register in subsequent countries that I am visiting on the same trip right?

    Thanks in advance.

  6. I’d like to take my drone to France on a trip. We are visiting many wineries and thought the drone images would be great memories. I got my French drone registration number and my operator ID. And I read the guidelines and plan to avoid restricted areas as directed. But I can’t seem to find liability insurance for the drone. American insurance companies are only providing insurance in France to commercial drones. And French companies have only French language websites. Do you have any idea how I can obtain the appropriate coverage or can direct me to a company covering tourists with drones? Thank you!

  7. Can you please advise if it is legal to use a drone for agricultural spraying in France?

    Quelqu’un peut-il indiquer s’il est légal d’utiliser un drone pour la pulvérisation agricole en France ?

    • John, agricultural spraying with drone would fall under the commercial operations and either specific or certified category. You will need to contact the regulator for additional requirements.


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