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The Ultimate Guide to The United Kingdom's (London) Drone Laws & Rules 2020

Updated: Jan 6

🖐 In this blog post we’ll share all drone law links & known rules around recreational & commercial drone use in the United Kingdom (London). Give a 👍 at the end of this post if you enjoyed it & feel free to ask any questions or share your experience in our United Kingdom Drone Discussion Group. Keep in mind that the content below is updated to the best of our ability & does not replace official sources & your own research.


💡 This article is also available in French


📰 IMPORTANT UPDATE: From the 30th of November 2019, you will need to undertake a theoretical test & register your drone (if heavier than 250 g) before flying your drone for fun in the United Kingdom's airspace - More info. (Note: this is not apply for the Island of Man)


United Kingdom's drone laws and regulations


The United Kingdom differentiates commercial & recreational drone uses. Both are subject to restrictions & a code of conduct. Additionally, depending on your drone's weight, different rules may apply.


✅ In the United Kingdom, drone regulations fall under the responsibility of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) of the United Kingdom & can be reached anytime via:

  • Email: uavenquiries@caa.co.uk

  • Phone: (+44) 0330 022 1500


✅ The UK drone laws & regulations are valid for each of these autonomous regions:

  • England

  • Northern Ireland

  • Scotland

  • Wales


🚨 Note that if you intend to fly your drone in the Isle of Man, different rules apply.


Can I bring or travel with a drone to the United Kingdom?


✅ Currently, there doesn't seem to be any restrictions on bringing drones within the UK 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.


💡 Smart! Get your drone batteries' firecase today and make sure you're complying with aviation safety rules.

NEW! Airlines & Drones' Best Practices!


Can I fly a drone in the United Kingdom?


✅ Yes, there is even a map that can help you know where you can fly. The official link of this map is only available via an App (which is why the screenshot instead of html) available in Android and Apple stores.


✅ Another interactive map called Airmap is available from Android or Apple and combines real time information, temporary restrictions & weather forecast helping you plan at best.


United Kingdom Drone Fly Map

Source: www.noflydrones.co.uk

www.noflydrones.co.uk provides an interesting alternative by allowing individuals to register themselves into their no fly mapbase adding private owners not wishing to be disturbed over their lands.


🚨 Do not fly near Edinburgh Castle as its considered as a military base or you could face more trouble times - see here. More recently, the Colchester Council has also specified not allowing drones in its public spaces - more info.


🌲 National / Marine parks & reserves might be on a case by case permission & you might need to check directly with the local park or reserve authorities. 🐳


💡 Smart! Pack some spare drone batteries, you never know how close is the next power plug overseas. Also make sure you have a travel adaptor for the UK.

What are the rules to fly a drone for fun in the UK?


🚨 Since the 30th of November 2019, all drone owners owning a drone heavier than 250 g have to register with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) & take an online safety test. Anyone who fails to register or sit the competency tests could face fines of up to £1,000


Until then, you are free to take off without registering but must fly:

  • at a maximum altitude of 120 m above the ground.

  • a drone hat weights less than 20 kg.

  • away from private property, vehicles in movement, people (50 m) or large crowds & built up areas (150 m) & respect individuals' privacy.

  • you have to follow your manufacturer's instructions of care and flight.

  • at least 4.8 km away from airports (any airport, seaplane base or area where aircraft or helicopter take off & land) & give way to all other type of aircraft.

  • only during permitting weather, during day time & within your sight at all times (500 m away from you maximum).


🚨 If your drone weights more than 250 g

  1. you must undertake an online theoretical test

  2. your drone must be registered prior taking off.

💡 Smart: DJI's new Mavic Pro Mini weights 249 g which means you wouldn't need to pass the theoretical test neither register your drone or pay a yearly fee.


The online theoretical test is a 20 basic questions to ensure you know the rules to operate your drone in full safety. You will need to score 16/20 to pass, if you fail you can try again and as often as you need. Take the test!


💲 Depending on what you register for the test will either be free or £9 / year (free is only to get a flyer ID, it will cost you £9 renewable if you need an operator's ID).


More detailed information about registering your drone in the UK

(Note: this does not apply for the island of Man)


NEW! Travel Guides from our experiences around the world!


What's the difference between an Operator and a Flyer ID?

A flyer ID is for anyone who wants to fly a drone. When you pass the test, you’ll get a flyer ID, which acts as your acknowledgement of competency as a remote pilot from the CAA. Anyone can pass it but if you're under 13, you will need an adult next to you when flying. The registration is free and valid for 3 years from then you will need to renew it.

An operator ID is for Anyone responsible for a drone or model aircraft. When you register, you’ll get an operator ID with your certificate of registration. You must display your operator ID on your drones. You can use the same operator ID for all your drones and model aircraft. The registration is for adults only and will cost £9 / year.


💡 If you have any questions you can contact the UK's drone registration office anytime via:

How to register a drone in the United Kingdom?


✅ Once you passed the theoretical test and paid your fee, you will receive an operator's ID that will be saved in the CAA's database. Your ID must be displayed clearly on all your drones before flying with them.


What are the rules to fly a drone for pros in the UK?


🚨 You will need a license to fly a drone commercially in the United Kingdom. Your skills and knowledge will need to be assessed and certified by a National Qualified Entity (NQE) which are mandatory as part of the CAA's process in obtaining your drone license.


According to the DfT, the number of active commercial licences increased from 2,500 to 3,800 in 2017, a year on year growth of 52% - Gov.uk

Below is an interesting graph showing the evolution aircraft incidents involving drones.. The numbers are not huge (less than 100) but the trend is going steady which is why more safety is always welcomed to operate safely for all.


✅ To fly a drone commercially, you will need a public liability insurance & an excellent knowledge of your drone's operator manual handy. You will also need to be 18 years old at least to be eligible to apply.


💡 Smart! Heading to the coast? Water glare is a killer when flying above UK's coastal waters, make sure you have a lens filter before heading there.

How to obtain a drone pilot's license in the UK?


In the United Kingdom, obtaining your license comes in 2 steps; obtaining your NQE certificate, to then be able to submit a permission for commercial flights (PfCO).


1/ A typical training NQE course involves:

  • an online registration

  • 1-3 days of classroom lessons

  • a written test

  • a flight assessment

✅ The CAA listed here all qualified organisations for us.


2/ Once you passed the course successfully, you can apply for your PfCO directly online.


🚨 Note that if you are a foreigner and want to fly your drone for commercial purposes in the UK, you will need to prove that you're fit for UK's drone operation safety standards. The CAA will evaluate case:case but the CAA specified that your overseas drone qualification does not necessarily proves enough to them. When contacting them for this matter, you should include info about the scope, location & dates when you wanna fly.


✅For commercial drone use operator enquiries, you can reach them over email at uavenquiries@caa.co.uk


NEW! Drone Reviews!


What do I risk for flying a drone illegally in the UK?


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, UK authorities specified that one or several of the following could apply:

  • a fine up to £2,500

  • the cease of your drone

  • a jail sentence (up to 5 years)


Once you got everything in order, you can start flying above the United Kingdom's (Scotland in our case) awesome landscapes & create videos like this one:


🎬 INSPIRING! Follow our aerial videos around the world on Youtube!


🌍 TRAVELLING FURTHER? Check out our Drone Rules World Map; country by country!

✅ Please leave a comment when you receive news and/or gain experience with your drone in the United Kingdom! Have fun & safe flight! #united #kingdom #UK #england #english #regulation #rule #rules #law #laws #legislation


💡 You're a local, have a question or want to share a travel experience? Head to our United Kingdom Drone Discussion Group


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 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 Amazon or DJI stores, think of us.


Sources

Civil Aviation Authority

The Drone Code

Unmanned aircraft and drones


Other resources

Isle of Man Drone Rules

Drone Safety Information

Flight help Apps: Drone Assist Fly App & Airmap

www.noflydrones.co.uk (other map but includes private owners' no flight requests).


Guidance for filming in the UK:

Northern Ireland: www.northernirelandscreen.co.uk

Wales: www.walesscreen.com

Scotland: www.creativescotland.com

England (outside London): www.creativeengland.co.uk

London: www.filmlondon.org.uk 

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