The registration requirements
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) requires owners of all drones or model aircraft weighing more than 250g (8.8oz) to be registered. You must register with the CAA before you fly your drone or model aircraft.
This means that the person responsible for the drone or model aircraft must register to get an operator ID, which should then be added onto the drone via a label. The person holding an operator ID for a drone or model aircraft must ensure that the drone or model aircraft is only flown by someone with a Flyer ID.
You must be 18 or older to get an operator ID.
Note that you do not have to register if you’ll only be flying drones or model aircrafts that weigh less than 250g and are either toys or do not have cameras.
If you’re unsure whether or not you have to register to fly your drone or model aircraft, see the CAA’s guidance.
Flyer IDs and the theory test
Anyone who wants to fly a drone or model aircraft weighing more than 250g (8.8oz) must pass a theory test to get a flyer ID. This is the case even if they are not the owner of the drone/model aircraft.
What you would need to know to pass this test is contained in the Drone and Model Aircraft Code. You should follow the Code whenever operating drones, model aeroplanes, model gliders, or model helicopters.
Anyone over the age of 13 can get a flyer ID on their own. Children under the age of 13 can get a flyer ID. However, due to data protection restrictions, they must register with a parent or guardian.
Do I need to insure my drone?
Whether or not you must have insurance in place for your drone or model aircraft depends on why you are flying it and how much it weighs.
If you’re flying your drone for recreation, sport, or as a hobby, and it weighs less than 20kg, you can choose to have insurance. If your drone weighs less than 20kg but you’re flying it for any other purpose, you must have third party insurance in place.
If your drone or model aircraft weighs more than 20kg you must always have third party insurance.
What should I do if I find a drone? Or, if I lose one?
The CAA runs the ‘Drones Reunited’ service to reunite owners with their lost drones.
According to the CAA, a quarter of drone owners have lost a drone at some point, because of malfunctions in flight (such as losing battery power), loss of signal, or pilots making mistakes.
The Drones Reunited platform can be of use to anyone who has lost or found a drone. It is free to use for anyone who registered their drone.
Flying drones near airfields
Since 13 March 2019, there have been new restrictions on flying drones near airfields. The previous 1 kilometre restriction was applicable to an airfield’s boundary has been replaced by a restriction that uses the airfield’s existing aerodrome traffic zone, which has a radius of either 2 or 2.5 nautical miles and then 5 kilometres by 1 kilometre zones starting from the point known as the ‘threshold’ at the end of each of the airfield’s runways. The zones extend upwards to a height of 2,000 feet above the airfield.
You can find a map of these restrictions in the Drone and Model Aircraft Code.
For more information on registering your drone, including the costs involved, see the CAA’s guidance on registering a drone. Ask a lawyer if you have any questions or if you’d like guidance on the commercial use of drones.