Agencies Responsible for regulating drones in the Federal Republic of Germany
Drone regulator in Germany: Deutsche Flugsicherung or German Federal Aviation Office (FAO)
Luftfahrt Bundesamt Drone Section
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 Germany
FAO, the German agency responsible for drone safety, 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.
As of 31st December 2020, national drone rules will be replaced by standard 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 Germany?
According to FAO, drones are allowed in Germany, subject to FAO and EASA regulations. Read on for details.
Here are the most important rules to know for flying a drone in Germany:
To operate a UAS weighing more than 5 kilograms, the owner must obtain authorization from the relevant German state’s aviation authority.
Authorization to fly will be granted if the aviation authority determines that the operation of the UAS does not jeopardize air safety, public safety, or order and that data protection rules are not violated.
Certification of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and model aircraft for flight in the controlled airspace of international and regional airports, as well as military airfields, is subject to approval by the German Aviation Control.
The Deutsche Flugsicherung has issued a blanket clearance for the sixteen international airports it controls, subject to the following conditions:
- The distance from the airport’s perimeter is at least 1.5 kilometers.
- The drone is flown within the operator’s direct visual line of sight
- Throughout the flight, the operator or a lookout in contact with the operator can monitor the airspace, particularly for other traffic.
- At all times, crewed aircraft operations are given the right-of-way.
- Uncontrolled model aircraft and/or unmanned aircraft systems must report to the competent air traffic control unit.
- Model aircraft with a maximum weight of 5 kg
- UAS maximum weight: 25 kg
- 30 m is the maximum height for model aircraft.
- UAS maximum altitude: 50 m
Types of authorizations for the operation of UAS
There are two distinct types of authorizations for the operation of unmanned aerial systems (UAS):
Authorization in general
- Above people and public gatherings;
- above accident scenes, disaster zones, and other police or other security-related operation sites;
- above correctional facilities, military complexes, industrial complexes, power plants, and other power generating and distributing facilities, unless these locations expressly permit the operation;
- or in prohibited areas.
The application for general authorization must include the following information:
- The applicant’s name, date and place of birth, and address;
- the business’s name, as well as the registered agent’s name, address, date, and place of birth, and all employees who will operate the UAS;
- the reason for using the UAS; and
- proof of sufficient insurance for personal and property damage accidents.
Authorization on a Case-by-Case Basis
A specific authorization from the aviation authority may be obtained for UAS weighing between 5 and 25 kilograms (approximately 55 pounds). These UAS are subject to the same operational restrictions as UAS, subject to general authorization.  Along with the information required in the general authorization application, the applicant for a specific approval must submit:
- a map indicating the launch area and operating space, as well as a marked launch site (district, lot or city, street, and street number)
- a consent declaration from the property owner or other beneficiary of the launch site;
- specific statements about the timing (date and time) and, in some cases, the number and duration of launches;
- technical details about the UAS; information about the operator’s knowledge and experience, or proof of training;
- a data privacy statement;
- a letter of no objection from the competent regulatory or law enforcement agency.
The aviation authority issues a specific authorization valid for the specified time and location.
Prohibitions and Restrictions
Several general restrictions must be followed while operating a UAS. The UAS cannot exceed 25 kilograms and must always remain within the operator’s visual line of sight.
A UAS is not within the visual line of sight if the operator cannot see the aircraft without using vision enhancement devices or cannot see the aircraft unobstructed.
The aviation authority may grant an exception to the general prohibition. They may do so if the intended use of the air space does not jeopardize public safety and order, and the UAS is operated within a restricted-flight area as defined in section 17 of the Air Traffic Regulation. They may also grant exceptions if the operation is outside of the airfield traffic of a landing site.
There is no need to establish a restricted-flight zone if the UAS is operated within the operator’s visual line of sight, for agricultural or forestry purposes, up to 50 meters above ground and water, and outside of controlled airspace.
Additionally, unless a special permit is granted, the UAS must be flown below 100 meters above ground and cannot be flown within 1.5 kilometers of an airport. A UAS is not permitted to fly over people or public gatherings.
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.
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 can carry 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 a minimum of 8km distance from airports/heliports.
- If you have already conducted operations in another EU country before going to Germany, you must not register again. You always register to the first non-EU country you have conducted flights.
- To register successfully, you must pay a registration fee
Remote Pilot Certificate (Non-EU Residents)
- If you want to fly your drone in Germany 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 an 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 three attempts 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 Germany and present it when asked by the authorities
To fly your drone in Germany, you must first become familiar with the country’s drone regulations. You must be mindful of the applicable drone regulations in Germany, which are pretty strict compared to those in the United States.
Both domestic and international drone operators must adhere to the following rules:
- A valid insurance certificate is required for drones weighing more than 500 grams.
- Drones weighing more than 250 grams must be labeled with a fire-resistant badge that includes the following information:
- The proprietor’s name
- Avoid flying your drone in densely populated areas or prohibited zones.
- When flying your drone, be mindful of other people’s privacy.
- Transmission of the footage is prohibited unless they expressly consent.
- Limit your flight to 400 feet above ground level.
- Always keep your drone’s visual line of sight clear.
- Maintain a minimum distance of 30 meters from people, buildings, and vehicles not involved in flight operations.
- Fly during daylight hours.
- Fly when the weather conditions for visibility are favorable.
How to register as a drone pilot or operator in Germany?
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 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 Germany for drone operations?
The operator registration procedure begins at the online registration link
This UAS operator registration number is valid for one year and must be renewed periodically following the same procedure. The operator, therefore, always uses the same number unless the latter is permanently deregistered from the register.
Notes for recreational drone pilots flying for fun in Germany
In Germany, flying a drone is permitted only during daylight hours. Flights at night require special approval.
Private drone flying is permitted in Germany, but only under the conditions outlined below:
- No special permission is required.
- 100m / 328ft Maximum Height
- > 100m / 328ft: Special Permit Required
- The drone must always be visible (line-of-sight)
- The maximum take-off weight is 5kg / 11 lbs without special permission. Over 5kg / 11lbs requires special permission
- Requirements for Labeling with complete name and address.
- Insurance for Drone Liability is always required.
See the general EASA rules above.
Notes for operating Commercial Drone Services in Germany
State aviation authorities would be authorized to permit commercial UAS operations outside the operator’s visual line of sight if a safe operation can be demonstrated. Currently, operation beyond the operator’s line of sight is generally prohibited.
Commercial UAS users must obtain a pilot certificate. Knowledge of aeronautics and aviation law would be tested. The Federal Aviation Administration would issue the certificate.
- Adhere to the provisions of the Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/945 and Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/947 (as amended).
- Register your drone on a national level, obtain a drone identification number, and obtain a permit to fly.
- Have a certificate of authorization for drones weighing more than 25 kg
- Carry Third Party Liability insurance with a minimum limit of one million euros
- Must be 18 years old and possess a National Drone Pilot Certificate.
Not permitted to fly in restricted areas
See the general EASA rules above.
What you must know about Germany 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 Germany
- Where you are allowed to fly a drone in Germany
- Register as drone operator in Germany
- Online drone pilot training and tests in Germany
- Apply for an authorisation to fly in Germany
Here is a sample of what you might expect if you follow the drone laws and fly in Germany…
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.
NOW ITS YOUR TURN
2 thoughts on “Drone Laws in Germany”
In the following section:
“Note for foreign operators
Operator Registration (Non-EU Residents)”, under bullet point 4, you write “You always register to the first non-EU country you have conducted flights”.
I think this should actually be, “You always register to the first EU country you have conducted flights”
Stephen, that actually refers to the requirement for registration in the originating country outside EU. The previous sentence reads: “If you already conducted operations in another EU country before going to Germany, you must not register again.” which makes it clear that in EU you register only once.
This statement was taken from several EASA based regulator websites!