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Drone Laws in The UK

Summary of Drone Laws in the United Kingdom

Hobbyist Drone Laws For Residents of United Kingdom

Drone Operations in United Kingdom are currently regulated.


  • Hobbyist drone flights are allowed in United Kingdom
  • Hobbyist UK drone pilot license is not required except for certain operations
  • Hobbyist Drone registration is required in United Kingdom for hobbyists flying over 250g, or drone with a camera
  • Drone Remote ID is not required in the United Kingdom for hobbyists
  • Drone Insurance is not required but recommended for hobbyists’ drone operations in United Kingdom

Read below for more details on Hobbyist Drone Laws in the United Kingdom and to find links to regulators and other credible sources!

Commercial Drone Laws For Residents of United Kingdom

Drone Operations in United Kingdom are currently regulated.


  • Commercial drone flights are allowed in the United Kingdom
  • Commercial UK drone pilot license is required
  • Commercial Drone registration is required in United Kingdom for commercial drone operators
  • Drone Remote ID is not required in the UK for Commercial Drone Operators
  • Drone Insurance is required for commercial drone operations in the United Kingdom

Read below for more details on Commercial Drone Laws in the UK and to find links to regulators and other credible sources!

Drone Laws For Visitors To the United Kingdom

Drone Operations in the UK are currently regulated.


  • Foreign visitor drone flights are allowed in the United Kingdom
  • Foreign visitor drone pilot license is required
  • Drone registration is required in the UK for visitors/tourists
  • Drone Remote ID is not required in the United Kingdom for tourists
  • Drone Insurance is required but recommended for tourist drone operations in the UK

Read below for more details on Drone Laws in the United Kingdom for Visitors (Tourists) and to find links to regulators and other credible sources!

Drone Laws For Government Drone Operators in the United Kingdom

Drone Operations in United Kingdom are currently regulated.


  • Government drone flights are allowed in the UK
  • Government drone pilot license is required
  • Drone registration is required in the UK for Government operations
  • Drone Remote ID is not required in the United Kingdom for Government operations
  • Drone Insurance is not required for Government drone operations in the UK

Read below for more details on Drone Laws in the United Kingdom for Government Drone Operations and to find links to regulators and other credible sources!

Agencies Responsible for regulating drones in the United Kingdom (UK)

Drone Regulator in The United Kingdom: Civil Aviation Authority of The United Kingdom

Contact Information

If you need additional details we have not covered or specific case help, contact the Civil Aviation Authority at:

Please continue reading for more details on UK Drone Laws.


Drone Laws UK – General rules for flying drones in the UK

The UK agency responsible for drone safety, CAA, has provided details on flying for fun or work. We enumerate the highlights below. For more details, click on the link above.

Are drones allowed in the UK?

According to CAA, drones are allowed in the UK, subject to CAA regulations. Read on for more details.

Drone registration

You must register before flying most drones or model aircraft outdoors in the UK.

There are two requirements, and you may need to meet both:

  • if you fly, you must pass a theory test to get a flyer ID
  • if you’re responsible for a drone or model aircraft, you must register for an operator ID

You can get both your flyer ID and operator ID at the same time. Warning it is against the law to fly a drone or model aircraft without having the required IDs. You can also be fined for breaking the law when flying. In the most serious cases, you could be sent to prison.

Toys and small drones, and model aircraft

You do not need to register if you will only fly or use the following types of drone or model aircraft:

  • toys below 250g or in C0 class
  • those in C0 class with no camera, whether they are a toy or not
  • those below 250g with no camera and no class mark, whether they’re a toy or not

Drones under 250g must still follow specific UK rules.

Look at the registration requirements for drones and model aircraft to determine if you need to register.

Drone License in the UK

Flyer ID

The flyer is the person who flies the drone or model aircraft.

You must pass an online theory test to get a flyer ID. The test is free. You should prepare for the test before you take it.

Children under 13

Children under 13 must also pass the test to get a flyer ID. For data protection reasons, they must register with their parent or guardian.

There’s more information in the children and parent guidance.

Operator ID

Operator IDs demonstrate an understanding of UK laws for flying drones.

The operator is the person responsible for managing a drone or model aircraft. This means they are responsible for maintaining it and ensuring that anyone who flies it has a flyer ID.

They are usually the person or organization that owns the drone or model aircraft, but not always. For example, if you are younger than 18 and own a drone or model aircraft, you must ask your parent or guardian to register for an operator ID. You will still be able to fly if you have a flyer ID.

The operator must:

  • make sure that only people with a valid flyer ID use their drone or model aircraft
  • label their drones and model aircraft with their operator ID

You must be 18 or over to register for an operator ID. You can use the same operator ID for all your drones and model aircraft.

You can register as an operator only if you are responsible for drones or model aircraft but will not fly them.

Prices

Getting a drone operator ID and gaining the necessary skills have costs.

RegistrationCostValid for
Operator ID£101 year
Flyer ID£05 years

Insurance requirements

Drones and model aircraft below 20kg

If you fly a drone or model aircraft below 20kg for recreation, sport, or as a hobby, you can choose whether or not to have insurance.

If you fly it for any other reason, you must have third-party insurance.

Drones and model aircraft 20kg and above

If your drone or model aircraft is 20kg or more, you must always have third-party insurance, no matter what you use it for.

Flying a drone in the Open Category

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Regulations cover the flying of any ‘drone’ or model. 

There are basic regulations for flying unmanned aircraft within the UK. Operating within these limits will ensure you remain in the ‘Open Category’, meaning that you do not need authorization from the CAA to fly. If you intend to operate outside these limits, you must first get Operational Authorization. 

See guidance on the Specific Category for more information. 

 We describe the basic requirements for flying in the Open Category below:

  • You must pass the online test, hold a Flyer ID, register as a UAS operator, and display your Operator ID on your UAS.
  • You are responsible for flying your UAS in a safe manner 
  • While the UAS is flying, make sure you always see it to prevent collisions, especially with other aircraft. 
  • You must not endanger anyone or anything with your UAS
  • You must not fly more than 400ft/120m above the surface  
  • To avoid breaking the rules, do not fly in the restricted area near an airport or any other airspace without permission. More information on airspace restrictions
  • Your UAS must weigh less than 25Kg

CAA has published a series of factsheets to help explain the rules that will apply to your flying:

  • Flying for fun CAP2003
  • Flying as a hobby and at a club CAP2004
  • Using a drone for work CAP2005
  • Flying in the countryside CAP2006
  • Flying in towns and cities CAP2007
  • The difference with the new 2020 regulations CAP2008

They detail the full set of rules that you need to know about in the Drone and Model Aircraft Registration and Education System (DMARES) web pages. You must pass this test before you can fly your drone outdoors. There are some exceptions to this, which are detailed within the DMARES pages.

The Open category is divided into three ‘subcategories’, to specify certain rules for different types of flying. The category you fall into depends on the type of drone you wish to fly and how you wish to fly it.

  • A1:  Flying ‘over’ people;
  • A2:  Flying ‘close to’ people;
  • A3:  Flying ‘far from’ people;

You must always comply with the rules of whichever subcategory you are flying in. 

Most people can fly a UAS in the open countryside without people around. This falls under the A3 category, which is similar to the old UK rules. A comparison of these and the new rules can be found in our factsheet CAP2008. The A1 and A2 categories allow flying closer to people, but with more restrictions. 

The full requirements for flying in the Open category are shown in CAA factsheet CAP2012.

First Person View

Unmanned airplanes with video cameras can often send “live” video to a remote pilot. The pilot can then watch it on a phone, tablet, or other screen or even through video goggles. The driver can see things from inside the UAS, kind of like a “pilot’s eye view.” This is called “first person view” (FPV).

Rules for first-person view flight vary based on factors like visual observers.

It is important for the distant pilot always to be able to see the UAS clearly. If a spotter is helping the remote pilot, FPV can be used.

The law states:

A UA observer may help the remote pilot keep the drone away from planes and other hazards

The UA observer must be next to the remote pilot. Observers must not use aided vision (e.g., binoculars).

UA observers may also be used when the remote pilot conducts FPV UAS operations. This method is used to control the UA with the aid of a visual system connected to the camera of the UA. In all cases, the remote pilot is still responsible for the safety of the flight.”

UAS Implementing Regulation- UAS.OPEN.060  

Note: Images captured by a camera and displayed on a flat-screen are limiting. They do not help the pilot’s depth perception and peripheral vision. This can make it difficult for the pilot to accurately judge speed and distance. They may not have enough awareness of the area around the aircraft. And cannot effectively ‘see and avoid’ obstacles and other aircraft. Using FPV equipment is not mitigation for the Beyond Visual Line of Sight flight. That is unless the relevant operator has received specific authorization from the CAA.

Indoor use

Flights inside buildings do not impact air navigation.

They can have no effect on aircraft flights in the open air. 

As a result, flights within buildings are not subject to air navigation legislation.

That is also true for areas where there is no possibility for the unmanned aircraft to ‘escape’ into the open air. These could be ‘closed’ netted structures outdoors.

Check the appropriate Health and Safety At Work regulations before indoor operations.

Drone Rules UK for Foreign Operators

If you want to fly your drone or model airplane in England, you have to follow the rules for flying them there. Most of the time, you’ll need a UK flyer and an operator ID.

Suppose you are an unmanned aircraft operator from overseas and want to work in England. If that happens, the CAA can usually give foreign operators permission if they meet UK safety requirements. But, EU licenses may no longer qualify post-Brexit. Check permissions in advance.

Your approval will rely on proof of your “remote pilot competency.” It will also depend on where the flights will occur. Approvals and skills from other countries are not always accepted as valid. If the type of flight you want to do needs one, you must have valid UK permission to fly in the UK. Every entry is looked at on its own. When the CAA decides on your application, they review your national approval or qualification. They will determine specific terms set out in the permission they grant.

Once you have your operator ID, you can apply for your operational authorization.

Information should also be supplied about the scope of the operation, including where and when it will occur. In most cases, only the ‘standard’ CAA permission is granted. Any aircraft weighing more than 20kg (44 lbs) is subject to a more involved process. These cases are more difficult to approve.

Apply as far in advance as possible.


Notes for recreational drone pilots flying for fun in the UK

See the general rules listed above. Go to the CAA site specifically addressing recreation drone use.


Notes for operating Commercial Drone Services in the UK

In addition to the general rules listed above, the CAA makes the following definitions regarding commercial drone use in the UK:

If your flight fits within the Open Category, see the description above.

Flying a drone in the Specific Category

An operational authorization issued by the CAA is required for any flight within the Specific category.  

The Specific category includes riskier operations than the Open category. It also includes operations that don’t fit in the Open category.

Full details of the requirements related to the Specific category can be found in Annex B of CAP722.     

Operational authorization

The key element of the Specific category is that the UAS operator is required to hold an operational authorization, which the CAA has issued.

The CAA will evaluate a safety risk assessment produced by the UAS operator. In some cases, the CAA has a ‘pre-defined’ authorization published.  

The operational authorization document sets out the privileges and limits of the operation. Each operational authorization is specific to the named UAS operator. It is based on their risk assessment and evidence provided to the CAA.

For further details, please refer to CAP 722 section 2.3.  

Risk assessment

To get permission to operate, the UAS operator needs to do a risk assessment for the planned operation. This assessment must be included in the application, unless the operation is covered by a Pre-defined Risk Assessment (PDRA).  Essentially, the aim of the risk assessment, which also includes the UAS operator’s operations manual, is to:

  • outline the proposed operation (‘what’ the operator wants to do);
  • describe the operational process that will be used (‘how’ the operator will do it);
  • describe the technical aspects of the UAS to be used (‘what’ the operator will do it with);
  • and then demonstrate that it can be done safely (provide a risk assessment/safety case).

Further guidance on preparing and submitting risk assessments is provided in CAP 722A.

Pre-Defined Risk Assessments (PDRA)

A PDRA is a shortened set of prescriptive conditions that must be complied with by a UAS operator to conduct a predetermined type of operation. 

In these cases, the CAA does the risk assessment instead of each individual operator. The CAA releases a list of requirements. UAS operators must submit them in their application for authorization. The list covers topics like remote pilot competency and ops manual contents. 

Individual PDRAs are listed in Annex B of CAP722 at B1.3  

Remote pilot competency requirements

The ‘specific’ category covers a wide range of UAS operations, each with different levels of risk. 

The UAS operator needs to identify the skills needed for the remote pilot and all personnel involved in UAS operation. They must do this during the risk assessment.

The General VLOS Certificate (GVC)

The GVC is a certificate for remote pilots that covers the qualifications needed for VLOS operations. 

The GVC satisfies the competency requirements of any published PDRA that involves VLOS flight. 

The GVC comprises a theoretical examination and a practical flight test. It is conducted at an RAE facility.  Extra modules can also augment the ‘basic’ GVC. These address any additional remote pilot competency levels required. They include requirements for more complex operations., such as those involving airspace observers. 

Further details of the GVC can be found in CAP 722B. 

The CAA does not organize or run assessment courses. But they approve commercial organizations. Known as Recognised Assessment Entities (RAEs), they do this assessment on CAA’s behalf.  The RAE will help you develop an operations manual. They will offer advice on completing the additional paperwork.

Details of CAA-approved RAEs can be found in the links below.

Filming in towns and cities

Guidance on people ‘under the control of the UA operator or the remote pilot.’ 

The remote pilot assessment process

CAA-approved remote pilot assessment organizations (RAEs)

How to apply for an operational authorization

Please complete the online application form. Submit the following documents (the application form will lead you through the process):

Applications including the UAS operators’ risk assessment:

  • Operations manual
  • Risk assessment
  • Details of the competency levels of each remote pilot involved in the operation

Insurance

Insurance coverage is required for commercial drone use in England.

Every UAS operator’s responsibility is to ensure they have appropriate insurance coverage.  This is a condition of each operational authorization issued by the CAA. 

Non-UK operators

If you are an unmanned aircraft operator from overseas and want to work in the UK, you must register as a UK operator. Follow the same requirements that would apply if you were based in the UK.  

The CAA may accept national documents for operator certification, remote pilot competency, or operational authorizations. These documents can be used in a risk assessment.  This is particularly the case where the regulatory environment in the UAS operator’s parent country is similar to that of the UK (e.g. EU Member States).

FAQs


Useful published information on flying drones in the UK

Site recommended by CAA: CAA Transition Pages

Here is a useful introduction video provided by CAA about Drone Laws UK…

And here is an example of the view when flying over the United Kingdom…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XkRFSnxXQ_w

Authoritative Sources of Information on UK Drone Laws

We will attempt to keep an updated list of online authoritative links to regulators and other official websites here:



NOTE: This page is about the Regulation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: 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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51 responses to “Drone Laws in The UK”

  1. Joyce Herbert

    I have a near neighbour who has a drone and he keeps flying over my property very often what can I do as it is very annoying he dosent just do it once but over and over.

    1. Merlin at Drone Laws

      It’s not specifically prohibited unless there is a violation of privacy or unsafe operations. You should contact your local law enforcement

      1. M Howe

        Hi, I live in a built up area – neighbour’s have a small drone overflying & hovering over our garden. When I’m in garden it’s less than 50m away from me (garden is about half that size). They say it’s ok as it apparently doesn’t have a camera – so I’m unclear if the rule about keeping 50m away from people only applies to small drones with camera.

        1. Merlin at Drone Laws

          We are not aware of any such exemption for a drone without a camera.

  2. Ron Brodhurst

    Hi I pride myself flying within the law and belive I have made all safety checks before flying. I want to fly near a waterfall for photography, the land owners state no one is allowed to fly from or OVER there site. I do understand I need there permission to take off and land from there property.

    My understanding is that as long as I take off from a public path I can legally over fly an area. Is there statement legal or can I fly over the waterfall.
    Thanks.

    1. Merlin at Drone Laws

      If the property is not restricted air space you can fly to the waterfall, but may not takeoff or land in the property.

  3. chris

    I will be in the UK in January 2023 (from Australia). I have an operator ID and Flyer ID. I would like to film Stonehenge (from a distance) at sunset. As long as I am outside Stone henge boundaries is this ok/ TIA

    1. Merlin at Drone Laws

      We advise using the online map services which show the specific locations you are considering and whether there are restrictions.

  4. Patrick Maguire

    Very helpful site – too often my Google searches take me to commercial organisations offering training courses!

    I have a DJI Air 2 S which I use recreationally for photography. I have registered it and have both the Flyer and Operator IDs. I have also passed the A2 C of C. However I notice on reading the CAA site that there is no mention of any need for the A2 C of C? I don’t mind the time and money i spent on the course, it was very useful, but was there any actual legal need for me to do it? Or does it qualify me to do certain things that I couldn’t otherwise do?

    Thanks.

    1. Merlin at Drone Laws

      Thanks Patrick. At one point we recall the C of C was required for some activities. May still even be valuable for commercial activity. The regulations have been changing frequently and we hope we can keep up with it. Cheers

  5. Peter Ben

    The rules around flying over or near prisons is complicated can you give a definitive steer?

    1. Merlin at Drone Laws

      These are not always shown as restricted areas, however even in those cases you may have to deal with law enforcement. Best approach is to get approval before flying. For definitive answer, you should check with a local legal expert.

  6. Cameron

    Hi thanks for the very informative article.

    I’m a little unclear on whether I need operational authorisation for a job I have coming up. Wondering if anyone was able to clarify? I work for a University and use an M300 RTK. I have a GVC / PfCO.

    I’ve been asked to photogrammetry scan part of a large vacant piece of wasteground (about 2000x1000m total, with an ara to be scanned 300x500m). The site to be surveyed is owned by a Council and a private developer who have both given permission in principle. There’s a minor public road which runs through the site and potential to overfly this road. There’s also a leisure centre which is just at the edge of the survey zone.

    Would it be possible to do this work within the open category or would I have to fly in the specific category, and thus gain permission from the CAA?

    Thanks

    1. Merlin at Drone Laws

      Cameron, this sounds like commercial activity and we recommedn you follow the specific category

  7. Vincent McCann

    I have the DJI Mavic Mini and am a new user. Thanks for this site, it looks very useful. I have just found out I needed to get the operators ID which I now have, and though I understand that the flyer’s ID is not necessary for a drone of this weight (under 250g), I got it anyway (being free and all, plus the test was helpful). My question for now is: what is needed if friends and family want to fly this, under my supervision, if anything? Thanks.

    1. Merlin at Drone Laws

      Generally, the drone can be operated by others under your active supervision.

  8. gordon hall

    Someone keeps flying a small drone above our house and hovers there i am concerned it maybe used to see items on my property they could later steal.

    Is there anything i can do about this for peace of mind

    1. Merlin at Drone Laws

      You should contact your local law enforcement

  9. Eric

    Hello, we see many ‘audit’ videos on Youtube where confrontation inevitably (on purpose) results in flying a drone over an industrial site or factory. Is this allowed by law or is the drone operator relying on the relative ignorance of the owners or police (who are invariably called)?

    1. Merlin at Drone Laws

      Eric it’s unclear whether these flights are outside the regulations. We recommend contacting law enforcement whenever something doesn’t look right.

  10. James

    Someone nearby Keeps flying his/her drone over our garden it is usually very high but we cannot measure how far. It is really annoying and we wonder if we have any course of action. we have a read a lot of the things here and otherwise but it is still very confusing. We do not know how much the drone weighs. It goes very high sometimes and it travels very far (30 or 40 semi detached properties.) when it goes home we cannot find the house it lands at. Is the registration system (if it is registered) able to tell us whom it belongs to or is it protected by Data Protection?

    I have not finished my questions yet but will leave it there for now.

    Thank you.
    James

    1. Merlin at Drone Laws

      James, we always recommend contacting local law enforcement when drones are operated unsafely or violate privacy. Unfortunately, the regulations requiring tracking devices on drones is not fully implemented, so you might not be able to find the operator

  11. Adrian Maskrey

    I am an EU resident (UK National) and have an EU provided Operator ID and have passed the online tests for EU A1 & A3 Open Categories, I fly a DJI Mini 3 pro which is in the sub 250g class but not a ‘toy’ as it has a camera. I will be travelling to the UK and would like to fly my drone whilst in the UK for recreational purposes in the ‘Open’ category. I read your article and saw that I needed to seek permission from the C.A.A. And I tried the link you provided in your article but it is ‘dead’, can you provide the correct link such that I can request the required permission? T.I.A.

    1. Merlin at Drone Laws

      Adrian, we have updated to reflect the latest guidance from CAA. From this page: https://www.caa.co.uk/consumers/remotely-piloted-aircraft/register-to-fly-a-drone-or-model-aircraft/

      Drone and model aircraft requirements for visitors to the UK from overseas

      If you want to use your drone or model aircraft in the UK, you must follow the UK regulations for flying a drone or model aircraft. In most cases, you’ll need to get a UK flyer ID and operator ID.

      We have also replaced the link to information about operational authorization above (can be found in the CAA page linked here also)

  12. ScotCan

    I confess that I am getting really confused about what the law will require after 1 Jan 2023.
    I wish to use something like a DJI Mini 3 Pro for quite limited work/commercial purposes (the drone will be purchased in 2023 so will not have the legacy exemption to having a C marking).
    The use will only be for flights in the Open category.
    As I read the rules I/we will need to have an Operator ID (and to mark the drone accordingly) but will not need to register the drone or to obtain a Flyer ID. Is this correct?
    However, I think it would be sensible to both register the drone and to obtain a Flyer ID. Will this be possible?
    I am assuming that post-01/01/23 DJI will mark the DJI Mini 3 Pro with a C0 mark?
    What happens if they do not?

    1. Merlin at Drone Laws

      Quite frankly, there is confusion about the current rules, much less what’s coming 🙂

      We think your interpretation regarding Flyer ID and Regsitration is correct, but also suggest registering and obtaining a Flyer ID for the flexibility in operating under different categories.

      1. ScotCan

        Thanks for that, I was beginning to wonder if I was missing something obvious!

  13. MARK

    I’m looking for some clarification
    I hold the GVC, A2cofc and drone/flyer registration which is visibly displayed on all of my drones (inspire 2, Mavic 3, air2s & Mavic mini 3)

    film a lot within the uk and a lot of festivals when using the inspire 2 I’m a minimum of 150 meters away using a x7 zoom lens

    was hoping I could get closer using smaller drones but am getting some seriously conflicting information so am hoping you might be able to clear things up for me

    what distance do I need to observe between groups over 1000 people and below 1000?
    mini 3 above 1000 people ____ below 1000 people ____
    Air 2s above 1000 people ____ below 1000 people ____

    1. Merlin at Drone Laws

      Mark, if you are flying in the Open category, you are only allowed to fly over people (not a crowd) if the drone is below 250g.
      For flying over crowds, or with any drone over 250g you will need specific approval.
      Regarding how close you can get to crowds, Please see this link: https://publicapps.caa.co.uk/docs/33/CAP2012_EU_Drone_Rules_Factsheet_V7%207.pdf
      You will probably fit in the A2 category and 30m limit

  14. John

    Looks like the price has gone up. Just took the tests and it was £10 for the year, not £9.

    Also, is there a list of requirements that a drone has to meet in order to be legal (what data must the telemetry send back? For example) and are there any distinctions or exceptions between manufactured drones (DJI, Autel, etc) vs self-built drones – not <250g FPV racing drones, but bigger stuff, say something like an F550?

    I've tried Googling for hours but not coming up with much. I know the whole Remote ID thing never made it to the UK, but everything I'm finding seem to be about the pilot requirements and not the drone's requirements.

    1. Merlin at Drone Laws

      John, can you point us to a link with the increased price. The current regulations focus on the operator, and not so much on the drone requirements. We are not aware of any regulation in place for remote ID in place yet

      1. John

        Yeah, link is the CAA website where you register for your IDs.

        https://register-drones.caa.co.uk/individual/register-and-take-test-to-fly

        Yes, I know there’s no regulation in place for Remote ID. I said that, haha. My point was are there legal requirements for self-built drones?

        1. Merlin at Drone Laws

          Thank you so much John. Updated above

  15. Jay

    Can anyone including public ask you to land your drone, if so where is the rule/law?

    1. Merlin at Drone Laws

      You should follow instructions of law enforcement, public safety and other designated officials.

  16. Les

    Hi, who do I need to show my Flyer ID and Operator ID to if asked,
    ie must I show it to a member of the public if they ask and to the police if I know I’m flying within all the rules?

    1. Merlin at Drone Laws

      Definitely to the police if asked. Could not hurt if you also showed the public if asked, although its not required

  17. Colin

    In the UK, Drones used for recreation (non commercial) with a camera that are less than 250g (DJI Mavic Mini 2 for example) do not require the drone operator to have a Flyer ID when flying in the Open Air Category. Nor do they have to observe the restrictions of flying close to or over people and buildings. The drone, however must be marked with an Operator ID (usually belonging to the owner of the drone) and of course be operated safely. Notwithstanding the above the restriction for flying over people does apply if over a crowd (where it would be difficult for them to disperse quickly from a drone out of control).

    1. Trevor

      If there’s no requirement to have an operator ID, why would the drone have to be marked with one ?

      1. Bob

        Flier ID, operator ID has to be on the drone, you dont need a Flier ID

  18. Magendra Rai

    I just purchased DJI mini 2 with camera but its just 249g.
    Do i need to get Flyer ID and Operator ID?
    I would be grateful if anybody help me.

    1. Merlin at Drone Laws

      Our understanding is that the exemption applies to toys under 250g and drones without cameras under 250g. The DJI Mini 2 is not considered a toy and does have a camera, so we are unsure it would qualify for the exemption. Please check with the CAA for a better answer, and come back and let us know what you find out. Thanks

      1. Wayne

        It is clear and it has been several months since being known.

        I did notice this website seems to redact this clarity, which makes me curious to why!!

        1. Merlin at Drone Laws

          Wayne, can you point us to anything online that clarifies this, or correspondence you might have received from the regulators confirming this?

          As you can see on every page of this site, we always recommend corresponding with the regulators for the latest. We know our volunteers are not going to be timely about catching every regulatory change, or even be aware of subtle interpretation changes made by regulators.

          Thank you

  19. Tony

    Hi, since the new laws came in this year to fall in line with EASA regs the commercial aspect of drone flight is no longer a factor in CAA permissions. There is no distinction between Commercial and Recreational flights, it is now the risk of the flight which is the determining factor.

    1. Merlin at Drone Laws

      Thank you Tony, we have updated our details above. Appreciate bringing this to our attention

  20. Fred Ray

    A couple of suggestions for alterations to your section above headed ‘Here are the most important rules to know for flying a drone in the UK?’

    You must not fly within 50 metres of people, vehicles, buildings or vessels UNLESS YOUR DRONE WEIGHS LESS THAN 250g.

    Your drone must not be flown within 150 metres of (remove: ‘a congested area or’) any large group of people such as a concert or sporting event as you may be prosecuted

    If you intend to record in an area where people are, you must inform them before you start, as you will need to respect privacy, or risk being prosecuted (THIS IS SIMPLY NOT TRUE IN A PUBLIC PLACE)

    1. Merlin at Drone Laws

      Thanks Fred. We have made changes above. Appreciate your feedback and help in getting this correct.

  21. Ravi Narayanan

    Just wondering when do we need to inform authority (police and CAA, NOTAM) about flying a drone for fun or commercial?

    1. Merlin at Drone Laws

      Ravi, in many cases you may not have to inform the authority before flying. Please read the summary above for the UK which points out when notification is required, or which agencies need to be contacted for further guidance..

      1. James Newton

        If in doubt, during your risk assement of the pre flight, you have any safety concerns. Do not fly or request permission or at least do your due dillegence (keep evidence of this) to obtain permission prior to the flight. If you feel it may require Police involvement, again, should you really be flying?
        If you have to fly but still have concerns, contact them on a non-emergency number, and log the calls reference number. Note, it is highly unlikely the dispatcher you contact will get the information to an on duty PC who may attend if someone has an issue with your flying.
        Basically do what you can to be safe, and show you have done your best to do so.

Leave a Comment

51 thoughts on “Drone Laws in The UK”

  1. I have a near neighbour who has a drone and he keeps flying over my property very often what can I do as it is very annoying he dosent just do it once but over and over.

    Reply
    • It’s not specifically prohibited unless there is a violation of privacy or unsafe operations. You should contact your local law enforcement

      Reply
      • Hi, I live in a built up area – neighbour’s have a small drone overflying & hovering over our garden. When I’m in garden it’s less than 50m away from me (garden is about half that size). They say it’s ok as it apparently doesn’t have a camera – so I’m unclear if the rule about keeping 50m away from people only applies to small drones with camera.

        Reply
  2. Hi I pride myself flying within the law and belive I have made all safety checks before flying. I want to fly near a waterfall for photography, the land owners state no one is allowed to fly from or OVER there site. I do understand I need there permission to take off and land from there property.

    My understanding is that as long as I take off from a public path I can legally over fly an area. Is there statement legal or can I fly over the waterfall.
    Thanks.

    Reply
    • If the property is not restricted air space you can fly to the waterfall, but may not takeoff or land in the property.

      Reply
  3. I will be in the UK in January 2023 (from Australia). I have an operator ID and Flyer ID. I would like to film Stonehenge (from a distance) at sunset. As long as I am outside Stone henge boundaries is this ok/ TIA

    Reply
    • We advise using the online map services which show the specific locations you are considering and whether there are restrictions.

      Reply
  4. Very helpful site – too often my Google searches take me to commercial organisations offering training courses!

    I have a DJI Air 2 S which I use recreationally for photography. I have registered it and have both the Flyer and Operator IDs. I have also passed the A2 C of C. However I notice on reading the CAA site that there is no mention of any need for the A2 C of C? I don’t mind the time and money i spent on the course, it was very useful, but was there any actual legal need for me to do it? Or does it qualify me to do certain things that I couldn’t otherwise do?

    Thanks.

    Reply
    • Thanks Patrick. At one point we recall the C of C was required for some activities. May still even be valuable for commercial activity. The regulations have been changing frequently and we hope we can keep up with it. Cheers

      Reply
    • These are not always shown as restricted areas, however even in those cases you may have to deal with law enforcement. Best approach is to get approval before flying. For definitive answer, you should check with a local legal expert.

      Reply
  5. Hi thanks for the very informative article.

    I’m a little unclear on whether I need operational authorisation for a job I have coming up. Wondering if anyone was able to clarify? I work for a University and use an M300 RTK. I have a GVC / PfCO.

    I’ve been asked to photogrammetry scan part of a large vacant piece of wasteground (about 2000x1000m total, with an ara to be scanned 300x500m). The site to be surveyed is owned by a Council and a private developer who have both given permission in principle. There’s a minor public road which runs through the site and potential to overfly this road. There’s also a leisure centre which is just at the edge of the survey zone.

    Would it be possible to do this work within the open category or would I have to fly in the specific category, and thus gain permission from the CAA?

    Thanks

    Reply
  6. I have the DJI Mavic Mini and am a new user. Thanks for this site, it looks very useful. I have just found out I needed to get the operators ID which I now have, and though I understand that the flyer’s ID is not necessary for a drone of this weight (under 250g), I got it anyway (being free and all, plus the test was helpful). My question for now is: what is needed if friends and family want to fly this, under my supervision, if anything? Thanks.

    Reply
  7. Someone keeps flying a small drone above our house and hovers there i am concerned it maybe used to see items on my property they could later steal.

    Is there anything i can do about this for peace of mind

    Reply
  8. Hello, we see many ‘audit’ videos on Youtube where confrontation inevitably (on purpose) results in flying a drone over an industrial site or factory. Is this allowed by law or is the drone operator relying on the relative ignorance of the owners or police (who are invariably called)?

    Reply
    • Eric it’s unclear whether these flights are outside the regulations. We recommend contacting law enforcement whenever something doesn’t look right.

      Reply
  9. Someone nearby Keeps flying his/her drone over our garden it is usually very high but we cannot measure how far. It is really annoying and we wonder if we have any course of action. we have a read a lot of the things here and otherwise but it is still very confusing. We do not know how much the drone weighs. It goes very high sometimes and it travels very far (30 or 40 semi detached properties.) when it goes home we cannot find the house it lands at. Is the registration system (if it is registered) able to tell us whom it belongs to or is it protected by Data Protection?

    I have not finished my questions yet but will leave it there for now.

    Thank you.
    James

    Reply
    • James, we always recommend contacting local law enforcement when drones are operated unsafely or violate privacy. Unfortunately, the regulations requiring tracking devices on drones is not fully implemented, so you might not be able to find the operator

      Reply
  10. I am an EU resident (UK National) and have an EU provided Operator ID and have passed the online tests for EU A1 & A3 Open Categories, I fly a DJI Mini 3 pro which is in the sub 250g class but not a ‘toy’ as it has a camera. I will be travelling to the UK and would like to fly my drone whilst in the UK for recreational purposes in the ‘Open’ category. I read your article and saw that I needed to seek permission from the C.A.A. And I tried the link you provided in your article but it is ‘dead’, can you provide the correct link such that I can request the required permission? T.I.A.

    Reply
  11. I confess that I am getting really confused about what the law will require after 1 Jan 2023.
    I wish to use something like a DJI Mini 3 Pro for quite limited work/commercial purposes (the drone will be purchased in 2023 so will not have the legacy exemption to having a C marking).
    The use will only be for flights in the Open category.
    As I read the rules I/we will need to have an Operator ID (and to mark the drone accordingly) but will not need to register the drone or to obtain a Flyer ID. Is this correct?
    However, I think it would be sensible to both register the drone and to obtain a Flyer ID. Will this be possible?
    I am assuming that post-01/01/23 DJI will mark the DJI Mini 3 Pro with a C0 mark?
    What happens if they do not?

    Reply
    • Quite frankly, there is confusion about the current rules, much less what’s coming 🙂

      We think your interpretation regarding Flyer ID and Regsitration is correct, but also suggest registering and obtaining a Flyer ID for the flexibility in operating under different categories.

      Reply
  12. I’m looking for some clarification
    I hold the GVC, A2cofc and drone/flyer registration which is visibly displayed on all of my drones (inspire 2, Mavic 3, air2s & Mavic mini 3)

    film a lot within the uk and a lot of festivals when using the inspire 2 I’m a minimum of 150 meters away using a x7 zoom lens

    was hoping I could get closer using smaller drones but am getting some seriously conflicting information so am hoping you might be able to clear things up for me

    what distance do I need to observe between groups over 1000 people and below 1000?
    mini 3 above 1000 people ____ below 1000 people ____
    Air 2s above 1000 people ____ below 1000 people ____

    Reply
  13. Looks like the price has gone up. Just took the tests and it was £10 for the year, not £9.

    Also, is there a list of requirements that a drone has to meet in order to be legal (what data must the telemetry send back? For example) and are there any distinctions or exceptions between manufactured drones (DJI, Autel, etc) vs self-built drones – not <250g FPV racing drones, but bigger stuff, say something like an F550?

    I've tried Googling for hours but not coming up with much. I know the whole Remote ID thing never made it to the UK, but everything I'm finding seem to be about the pilot requirements and not the drone's requirements.

    Reply
    • You should follow instructions of law enforcement, public safety and other designated officials.

      Reply
  14. Hi, who do I need to show my Flyer ID and Operator ID to if asked,
    ie must I show it to a member of the public if they ask and to the police if I know I’m flying within all the rules?

    Reply
    • Definitely to the police if asked. Could not hurt if you also showed the public if asked, although its not required

      Reply
  15. In the UK, Drones used for recreation (non commercial) with a camera that are less than 250g (DJI Mavic Mini 2 for example) do not require the drone operator to have a Flyer ID when flying in the Open Air Category. Nor do they have to observe the restrictions of flying close to or over people and buildings. The drone, however must be marked with an Operator ID (usually belonging to the owner of the drone) and of course be operated safely. Notwithstanding the above the restriction for flying over people does apply if over a crowd (where it would be difficult for them to disperse quickly from a drone out of control).

    Reply
  16. I just purchased DJI mini 2 with camera but its just 249g.
    Do i need to get Flyer ID and Operator ID?
    I would be grateful if anybody help me.

    Reply
    • Our understanding is that the exemption applies to toys under 250g and drones without cameras under 250g. The DJI Mini 2 is not considered a toy and does have a camera, so we are unsure it would qualify for the exemption. Please check with the CAA for a better answer, and come back and let us know what you find out. Thanks

      Reply
      • It is clear and it has been several months since being known.

        I did notice this website seems to redact this clarity, which makes me curious to why!!

        Reply
        • Wayne, can you point us to anything online that clarifies this, or correspondence you might have received from the regulators confirming this?

          As you can see on every page of this site, we always recommend corresponding with the regulators for the latest. We know our volunteers are not going to be timely about catching every regulatory change, or even be aware of subtle interpretation changes made by regulators.

          Thank you

          Reply
  17. Hi, since the new laws came in this year to fall in line with EASA regs the commercial aspect of drone flight is no longer a factor in CAA permissions. There is no distinction between Commercial and Recreational flights, it is now the risk of the flight which is the determining factor.

    Reply
  18. A couple of suggestions for alterations to your section above headed ‘Here are the most important rules to know for flying a drone in the UK?’

    You must not fly within 50 metres of people, vehicles, buildings or vessels UNLESS YOUR DRONE WEIGHS LESS THAN 250g.

    Your drone must not be flown within 150 metres of (remove: ‘a congested area or’) any large group of people such as a concert or sporting event as you may be prosecuted

    If you intend to record in an area where people are, you must inform them before you start, as you will need to respect privacy, or risk being prosecuted (THIS IS SIMPLY NOT TRUE IN A PUBLIC PLACE)

    Reply
    • Ravi, in many cases you may not have to inform the authority before flying. Please read the summary above for the UK which points out when notification is required, or which agencies need to be contacted for further guidance..

      Reply
      • If in doubt, during your risk assement of the pre flight, you have any safety concerns. Do not fly or request permission or at least do your due dillegence (keep evidence of this) to obtain permission prior to the flight. If you feel it may require Police involvement, again, should you really be flying?
        If you have to fly but still have concerns, contact them on a non-emergency number, and log the calls reference number. Note, it is highly unlikely the dispatcher you contact will get the information to an on duty PC who may attend if someone has an issue with your flying.
        Basically do what you can to be safe, and show you have done your best to do so.

        Reply

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