Text Size

Current Size: 100%

Drone law in the UK

Share by emailShare by email

What are Drones?

Drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) are simply machines that are remotely controlled by a person on the ground. They were once exclusively used by the military when it deemed too dangerous to send a manned aircraft.

However drones are now becoming more popular with businesses and the general public as technology gets better and the cost goes down.

Are drones legal?

The short answer is yes. However there are rules and regulations that you must adhere to in order to ensure you are on the right side of the law. As drones are still quite new, the law around their use is constantly evolving so it is a good idea to ensure that you are fully up-to-date with the latest changes.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has guidance on using drones for both private and commercial use.

Drone registration

If you are wanting to fly a drone or model aircraft you now have to be registered. This includes the below:

  • Anyone who wishes to fly a drone must pass a theory test to get a flyer ID
  • The person that is responsible for the drone or model aircraft must register to get an operator ID

More details regarding registration can be fount on the Civil Aviation Authority website.

Airfield restrictions

On 13 March 2019 the drone flight restriction zone around airports changed. Find more detailed information regarding airport and airfield restrictions on the Civil Aviation Authority page.

What are the rules for flying drones in the UK?

  • Your drone must weigh under 20kg
  • You can’t fly above 400 feet in altitude or 500 metres from you horizontally
  • Ensure your drone is always in sight
  • Always keep away from aircraft, helicopters, airports and airfields
  • Use your common sense and fly your aircraft safely
  • Any drone weighing more than 250 grams must be registered with the CAA and the drone pilot must complete an online safety test

If your drone is fitted with a camera there are additional regulations you must follow.

  • You must not fly within 50 metres of people, vehicles, buildings or vessels
  • Your drone must not be flown within 150 metres of a congested area or any large group of people such as a concert or sporting event as you may be prosecuted.
  • If you intend to record in an area where people are, you must inform them before you start.

If you intend to use the drone for commercial purposes you must have permission from the CAA and comply with additional laws governing their use.

To get guidance on operating permissions for drones see the CAA’s website for the latest information and regulations regarding drone use.