The emergence of drones has opened up exciting possibilities, but with great innovation comes great responsibility. For recreational flyers and commercial operators alike, understanding Europe’s drone regulations is essential to staying safe and legal in the skies. One key component is the Open Category for the most common drone operations.
The ‘open’ category is the main reference for most leisure drone and low-risk commercial activities in European countries.
Subcategories of Open Category Drones
The ‘open’ category is, in turn, subdivided into three sub-categories – A1, A2, A3 — which may be summarised as follows:
- A1: fly over people but not over assemblies of people
- A2: fly close to people
- A3: fly far from people
Each subcategory comes with its own set of requirements. Therefore, in the ‘open’ category, it is important to identify the subcategory of operation your activities will fall under to determine which rules apply to you and the training the remote pilot needs to undertake.
If you comply with the relevant requirements of the subcategories (A1, A2, and A3), no operational authorization is required before starting a flight.
If your drone operation cannot be conducted within the open category, you must use the ‘Specific Category‘ or ‘Certified Category.’
Conditions required to avoid authorization
The following conditions must be met:
- The drone operator has to be registered.
EU residents: Please register in the EU member state of your main residence (or principal place of business), and contact the Aviation Authority in your member state for further details.
Non-EU residents: Please register in the EU member state where you intend to operate your drone first. If the first drone operation will take place in Austria, please register as an operator here.
- All operated drones need sufficient insurance coverage.
Each country might have a different limit. For example, in Austria, you must ensure the coverage is at least 750,000 SDR, and your insurance is valid in Austria.
- The drone pilot needs proof of competency.
Depending on the subcategory of your drone operation (see table below), you need a certificate for A1/A3 and additionally A2.
- The drone must be kept in visual line of sight (VLOS) at all times.
- The drone is flown at no more than 120 meters above ground level.
- The drone must not carry any dangerous goods or drop any material.
EASA Safe Drone Operations Video
For amateur drone pilots, EASA has created this simple video to help you see how easy it is to become a safe and responsible drone pilot.
I have a DJI Drone under 250g. What rules apply to me?
DJI produces several drones (DJI Mini, DJI Mini 2 SE, DJI Mini 3, DJI Mini 3 Pro) below 250g. These drones have a camera and are not a toy (meaning it does not comply with the toy directive). Therefore, the following actions have to be taken to comply with EASA Regulations:
- You, as the drone operator/owner, must register with the Aviation Authority in the country in which you live.
- Once registered, you will receive a ‘drone operator registration number’ that you must display with a sticker on all your drones, including those privately built. You must also upload it into the ‘Drone’s remote identification system’ If the drone has this function;
- When operating the drone, always comply with the A1 sub-category requirements.
A remote pilot training certificate is unnecessary to operate a drone of this kind. However, it is highly recommended to conduct the A1/A3 online training. Moreover, most EASA Member States mandate third-party insurance. Please consult the national regulation for further information about the insurance for drones.
How do I know if the Open Category applies to my situation?
A drone can be operated in the “Open “category when it:
- bears one of the class identification labels 0, 1, 2, 3, or 4; or
- It is privately built, and its weight is less than 25 kg or
- It is purchased before 1 January 2023, with no class identification label as above;
- It will not be operated directly over people unless it bears a class identification label or is lighter than 250 g. (Please refer to subcategories of operations: A1, A2, and A3 to find out where you can fly with your drone.);
- Will be maintained in visual line of sight (VLOS), or the remote pilot will be assisted by a UA observer;
- It is flown at a height of no more than 120 meters;
- Will not carry any dangerous goods and will not drop any material.
I want to provide services with my drone. Can I do so in the Open Category?
You can operate your services, whether commercial or not, under the ‘open’ category if you meet all the requirements defined for the ‘open’ category.
I am a non-EU visitor who wants to fly in the Open Category. Do I need to register?
All drone operations conducted in the EASA Member States must comply with the Drone Regulations, no matter what the nationality of the operator or remote pilot is. Therefore, as a non-EU resident, you must also register with the National Aviation Authority of the first EU country where you intend to operate.
You will then be issued with a ‘drone operator registration number’ that needs to be displayed with a sticker on all the drones you own. You must also upload it into the ‘remote identification system’ of your drone(s).
Once registered in the host country, the drone operator’s registration will be valid across Europe, and the operator will be required to follow all the provisions of the Drone Regulation.
If you intend to operate in the ’specific’ category, you must submit a declaration for a standard scenario or apply for operational authorization to the National Aviation Authority of the EU Member State(s) where you registered.
If you want to conduct operations in a Member State different from the one where you registered, you need to follow the same procedure as all other national citizens of the Member State where you registered.
Where do EASA rules apply?
The European Commission and the EASA (European Union Aviation Safety Agency) European regulation apply to 31 countries. EASA Member states are the 27 European Union Countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.
On the following country pages, you will find links to the National Civil Aviation Authority, the online drone licence site, drone registration links, sites for operational authorisation, locations to check for controlled airspace, no-fly zones, etc.
- Austria Drone Laws – Austro Control
- Belgium Drone Laws – Federal Public Service Mobility and Transport
- Bulgaria Drone Laws – Directorate General Civil Aviation Administration
- Croatia Drone Laws – Croatian Civil Aviation Agency
- Cyprus Drone Laws – Cyprus Department of Civil Aviation
- Czech Republic Drone Laws – Czech Republic Civil Aviation Authority
- Denmark Drone Laws – Denmark Civil Aviation Administration
- Estonia Drone Laws – Estonia Civil Aviation Administration
- Finland Drone Laws – Finnish Transport Safety Agency
- France Drone Laws – French Civil Aviation Authority
- Germany Drone Laws – German Federal Aviation Office / Deutsche Flugsicherung
- Greece Drone Laws – Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority
- Hungary Drone Laws – General Directorate for Air Transport
- Iceland Drone Laws – Icelandic Transport Authority
- Ireland Drone Laws – Irish Aviation Authority
- Italy Drone Laws – Italian Civil Aviation Authority
- Latvia Drone Laws – Civil Aviation Authority of The Republic of Latvia
- Liechtenstein Drone Laws – Landesverwaltung Liechtenstein Division Civil Aviation
- Lithuania Drone Laws – Civil Aviation Authority of the Republic of Lithuania
- Luxembourg Drone Laws – Directorate of Civil Aviation
- Malta Drone Laws – Malta Civil Aviation Directorate
- Netherlands Drone Laws – Civil Aviation Authority
- Norway Drone Laws – Civil Aviation Authority Norway
- Poland Drone Laws – Civil Aviation Authority Poland
- Portugal Drone Laws – National Civil Aviation Authority
- Romania Drone Laws – Romanian Civil Aviation Authority
- Slovakia Drone Laws – Civil Aviation Authority of the Transportation Office
- Slovenia Drone Laws – Civil Aviation Administration of Slovenia
- Spain Drone Laws – Agencia Estatal de Seguridad Aerea
- Sweden Drone Laws – Swedish Transport Agency
- Switzerland Drone Laws – Federal Office of Civil Aviation
- For other European countries not part of the European Union or governed by EASA, see Drone Laws In European Countries – from there, you can navigate to the specific country not included in EASA rules.
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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