🖐 In this blog post we’ll share all law links and known rules about recreational and commercial drone use in France (Paris). Give a 👍 at the end of this post if you enjoyed it & feel free to ask any questions or share your experience in The Forum. Keep in mind that the content below is updated to the best of our ability & does not replace official sources & your own research.
France's drone laws and regulations
France differentiates commercial & recreational drone uses. Both are subject to restrictions and code of conduct. Additionally, depending on the weight of your drone, different rules will apply.
👌 The country defines recreational use for any flight responding to competition or leisure purposes. Any activity generating a commercial transaction/benefit or is designed for research & testing, falls under the commercial rules and is subject to a stricter regulation.
✅ In France, drone regulation falls under the French Civil Aviation Authority (DGAC) & the Ministry of Ecological & Solidarity Transition (MTES). Together, they created a portal for all pilots (professionals or not) called AlphaTango (its also available in English 👌).
✅ Additionally, the MTES' organisation is open to updates and created 2 counsels to receive feedback and continuously improve the current drone regulation:
for professionals, your contacts are sub-divided per region you fly - see here.
for hobbyist, you can email email@example.com
Can I bring or travel with a drone to France?
✅ Currently, there doesn't seem to be any restrictions on bringing drones within France as long as your import is considered as legitimate (generally one drone per person).
🚨 Be aware of the airline you purchase to travel as some main ones will only accept your drone on-board if its batteries are detached & placed in a firecase during travel time. Most airlines will have a battery voltage limit based on the recommendation of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). You can find more info about a specific airline here.
Can I fly a drone in France?
✅ France built a detailed interactive drone flight map (GEOPortail) designed primarily for recreational use. This map is organised in a 4 colour scheme to help drone owners to fly responsibly & safely within the country:
Yellow = you can fly up to 100 m altitude
Orange = you can fly up to 50 m altitude
Pink = you can fly up to 30 m altitude
Red = you cannot fly without authorisation
👌 It is the most complete aerial map we've encountered to date (find a direct link at the end of this research 😍) You can do so much stuff from it such as:
calculate your drone flight itinerary
change coordinates and save your favourite measures
contribute to the map if you think something's wrong
search a point specifically
France drone fly map
📰 Special note for drone operators looking to fly in the French overseas department & territories such as Martinique, La Reunion, the French Pacific Islands or New Caledonia; the above GeoPortail map is set to include these over upcoming months.
📰 French Authorities also confirmed to shorty add a commercial layer.
🦅 National Park flights are controlled independently & you will need to find the local authority's approval for all kind of flights in these areas.
✅ Flights over buildings and agglomerations are tolerated if your drone flies above a private owned land & you have the owner's authorisation only. Note, some cities such as Paris have a total ban, so double check with the council first.
🚨 You cannot fly under any circumstances over:
See this e.g. about how your drone could interrupt a rescue even in remote places:
🚨 Temporary local or national flight bans also apply for each of these events;
Concerts & open air events
Tour de France & open air races
On the 14th of July (French National Day)
International summits & Transport of High Personalities
What are the rules to fly a drone for fun in France?
✅ You do not need a permit or license for drone recreational use in France. However, there are strict rules depending on your drone's weight, your flight zones and a code of conduct to follow for all operators. If your drone weights more than 800 g, you will have to register it.
With this in mind, you must fly:
at a maximum altitude of 150 m above the ground, when you are not in a restricted zone. Check GeoPortail before every flight as some regions are limited to 100 & 50 m altitude flights (based more or less on how close you are to a sensible area).
during day time & within your sight at all times.
away from people or large crowds & respect individuals' privacy. (If you take a photo of someone or someone's property, you will need their approval prior sharing it).
give priority to all other categories of aircraft.
fly a drone of less than 25 kg
it is advised to subscribe to an insurance covering all risks.
at least 1 km away from airports (any airport, seaplane base or area where aircraft take off and land). Note, if you're within 6 km, then you're restricted to fly at 50 m & 100 m if you're within 10 km of any airport.
avoiding sensitive areas including urban areas, government & military facilities.
never fly above a fire or any site where emergencies are required as you could interrupt their operation and delay their intervention.
🚨 Do not fly with drones weighting more than 10 kg, less than 100 m from the operator, in a cordoned area ensuring a minimum distance of 150 m from buildings and structures & 50 m from people not involved in the flight operation.
✅ French Authorities made a sweet little sum up video (in French but quite graphic) for you to know if all in a glimpse, time to set up the popcorn & stop reading a little 🍿🎬
If your drone weights more than 800 g
you will need to be over 14 years old. Note; you can if someone over 18 years old holding the training certificate is looking after you.
your drone must be equipped with a height control, a lighting & an electronic positioning system
your drone must be registered prior taking off.
💡 These rules are not applicable if you fly within an aero-modelling club & are a registered member of the club (FFAM ou UFOLEP) as the formation given there is equivalent if not superior to the one required over AlphaTango's website.
How to register a drone in France?
✅ Once you passed both tests, you will need to register your drone like any recreational use ones (over 800 g) through the AlphaTango portal.
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What are the rules to fly a drone as a pro in France?
You will need to be at least 16 years young to fly a drone for commercial purposes in France. Additionally, every professional pilot, should hold a license to fly & register their drones prior taking off.
How to obtain a drone license in France?
✅ If you hold a foreign drone license, it should be recognised as long as you can provide an official translation of it (here's a local French sworn translator we used). For those in need of a French one, their license comes in two parts; a technical & a practical one.
For the technical part:
✅ You will need to pass a 60 question/answer test about aerial rule of France. The exam lasts for about 1h30. You can train for the test at home or from an accredited training centre, find a list here. These are the type of questions asked (in French).
👌 Good to know, until July 2018, you could hold an ULM license which would have been valid for commercial drone use. Now not being the case, you can ask your ULM license to be converted into a drone license without any extra costs or need to pass the exam again by completing this form. This form is valid only if you obtained your ULM license and declared yourself as a professional drone pilot prior the 30th of June 2018.
The purpose of the technical course is to provide you with the necessary knowledge to understand radio messages and communicate properly with any ATS unit in the corresponding airspace - see here.
For the practical part:
You will need to practise with an accredited training centre see here a full list Your training centre will give you upon completion a attestation of completion. Here is a complete list of what you will learn (in French).
🤑 This is a costly license as it will take you about 1 week to complete and 2000€ to obtain.
✅ You can operate night flights providing that your drone follows all aerial visual and lighting aerial regulations and can be clearly identifiable 💡 Note, a permit will be required to do such which will take up to 30 days to obtain - More info.
What do I risk for flying a drone illegally in France?
The amount & scope of the fine will depend on the nature & severity of your infraction. The judges will also evaluate if you intentionally committed the infraction and/or if you had any commercial purposes to do such. However the French authorities specified that any use of drones that do not comply with the rules and basic safety will be exposed to the Article L.6232-4 of the transports' code which allows up to one or the combination of the following:
up to 75,000€ fine
up to 1 year imprisonment
Where can I get great drone content in France?
If you've got everything in order, you can start flying above France's awesome landscapes. One of the most underrated spots is probably Oleron island or "Oleron, la lumineuse" which means the bright (sunny) island. The island is a 5h drive from Paris or more conveniently a 2h30 from Bordeaux and 1h from La Rochelle. The best month to get there is September when most tourists are gone and the island's water remain warm. The island is rich in history and great monument to look at such as Fort Boyard and Fort Louvois. If you're lucky enough to get there, you might get to do this video:
More Relevant Reads
✅ Please leave a comment or update in the Forum when you receive news and/or gain experience with your drone in France! Have fun and safe flight!
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 regulation.
GeoPortail, France's official fight drone map.
ULM license to be converted into drone license form (post 30/06/18)
JORF n°0298 du 24 décembre 2015 page 23897, texte n° 22 (drone flight law)
JORF n°0298 du 24 décembre 2015 page 23890, texte n° 20 (drone operational law)