🖐 In this blog post we’ll share all law links & known rules about the new European wide drone regulation to be in effect from the 1/01/21. Give a 👍 at the end of this post if you enjoyed it & feel free to ask any questions or share your experience in the Forums. Keep in mind that the content below is updated to the best of our ability & does not replace official sources & your own research.
Recreational vs commercial drone use in Europe
Europe does not differentiate commercial and recreational drone uses any longer. Both are subject to restrictions and code of conduct. Additionally, depending on the weight of your drone, different rules will apply.
✅ In Europe, drone laws are centralised by EASA (European Union Aviation Safety Agency) since the 1st of Jan 2021. However EASA gives up to one year to its members (including the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein) to implement its unified drone rules. EASA can be contacted anytime via:
✅ You can find each individual EU country's drone laws here. (Note we will update gradually each country's post once they've announced their positioning regarding EU's drone regulation update).
About Europe's new 2021 drone regulation
Its been a little while that the EU is in this process. Initially planned for a release in July 2020, thanks to the pandemic, Europe(s unified drone rules has been postponed to the 1st of January 2021. Whilst its been in the making for a while, not all information has been published by EASA yet such as the registration process which we will make sure to explain once available to us.
To understand the new European (EU) regulations, we first have to explain two newly introduced terms:
Classes: With the CE classes, drones will in the future be subdivided according to their technical characteristics. There are the classes C0, C1, C2, C3, and C4. In the future, drones must be clearly marked with the appropriate class by manufacturers such as DJI.
Categories: Flight manoeuvres will in the future be divided into three categories (Open, Specific, and Certified) based on their risk. For the Open category, there are three subcategories: A1, A2, and A3.
✅ For most recreational pilots, Open category will be the one to follow.
Europe Drone Flight Classes
From 2021, Europe will classify each drone according to its weight and flight capacity. Drone manufacturers will have to mark their drones with its class between:
C0: for drones < 250g
C1: for drones between 250g < 900g
C2: for drones between 900g < 4kg
C3: for drones between 4kg < 25kg
C4: for drones > 25kg
Europe Drone Flight Categories
Open Category: for drone flights representing a low risk to other patrons. No permission are required to undertake an open category flight as long as:
your drone weights < 25kg
your maximum flight altitude is 120m
your drone remains within sight at all times and you're away from other people
you aren't carrying or dropping anything intentionally from your drone
you are at least 16 years old
Specific Category: for drone flights representing a risk to other patrons (basically non open category flights). You will have to be a registered drone operator to undertake any flight falling under this category. Note, the EU member country in which you undertake the flight remains the authority with which you will need to request approval and registration from.
✅ Find all aviation authorities and their contact details here.
Certified Category for drone flights going over crowds, or transporting persons/dangerous goods. (Pending on more details from EASA)
Drone Pilots' Registration
Europe divide the registration process into two steps; the pilot's and the drone registration. The first one is almost necessary for all drones or flights you wish to undertake whilst the second one is more specific and won't be needed in most cases. Note, if you're already registered in another EU country, you will still have to re-apply and submit your application. Europe offers two type of registrations, the pilot's and the drone's:
Pilot's registration: you will have to register if you drone weights more than 250g (categories C1, C2, C3 or C4) or it can record any personal data (that includes any drones equipped with a camera!). You will need to register in the country where you wish to execute your flight. Note, not all EU members have yet set such a platform, however down the road, these will be linked and share your information across EU members hopefully meaning you won't have to do it each time you're flying in a new European country. ✅ When registering, you will need to provide your full contact details, as well as your drone insurance if applicable.
Drone's registration: you will only need to register your drone if undertaking a certified category flight. (flying above people, transport..) When registering your drone, you will need to provide your contact details along the full specs/fact sheet of your drone and its serial number. Acceptancy remains in the authority of the country in which you're applying for.
EU Members can still decide for their own
This is probably the most confusing part of this new unified European drone law as EASA will leave some aspects of its regulation under the regulation of each individual European member such as:
Drone insurance: You will have to insure your drone if weighting over 20kg. However EASA permits European members to make drone insurance mandatory or lighter models such as its already the case in Germany.
Prohibited zones: EU members can determine where drones may be flown and where restrictions apply (e.g. nature reserves, airports). Thankfully, EASA specifies that such data much be shared in the same format across all members making it a little confusing to follow and understand.
Minimum age: The minimum age is normally 16 years, but a lower age is possible.
Own regulations: There are countries where rules already apply that do not exist in others. For example, in Sweden and Croatia permits for aerial photography are required. Such regulations can still exist with the EU regulation.
✅ Please leave a comment when you receive news and/or gain experience with your drone in Europe !
💡 You're a local, have a question or want to share a travel experience?
Disclaimer: Although great care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information researched, we take no responsibility for any loss, harm or damage caused as a direct or indirect consequence of relying on this information. It is your responsibility to seek advice from qualified local & relevant authorities for needed information about local drone rules and regulations.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links meaning we will get a commission if you decide to purchase via them. This has no costs for you but helps Dronemade stay free for all. If you need to buy anything on Banggood or DJI stores, think of us.
Civil Drones (Unmanned Aircraft)