Drone Laws UK – General rules for flying drones in the UK
The UK agency responsible for drone safety, CAA, has provided a number of internet-accessible details on flying for fun or for work. The highlights are enumerated below.
Are drones allowed in the UK?
Of course! Drones are legal and here to stay! However, you still do have to abide by the laws of the 2016 Air Navigation Order and if you don’t, you could be prosecuted. The articles of interest are 94 (which governs small, unmanned aircraft), article 95 (which covers small, unmanned surveillance aircraft), and section 241 which states “A person must not recklessly or negligently cause or permit an aircraft to endanger any person or property.”
Will drones ever be banned in the UK?
Despite the recent controversy and incidents surrounding drones, I think it’s highly unlikely that drones will be banned altogether. In my opinion, it would take a very extreme incident for such measures to be put in place. However, they are banned from flying in certain restricted areas such as airports and over military bases for safety and security reasons. After the whole Gatwick controversy, you are now not allowed to fly your drone within 5km of an airport; prior to the incident, it was 1km.
Do I need a drone license in the UK?
Under current UK law, you don’t need a license as such to fly a drone, providing it weighs less than 20kg. However, new legislation that was introduced in November 2019 now requires all drone owners with a drone weighing between 250g and 20kg to both obtain a Flyer ID by doing an online safety test and then get an Operator ID. If your drone is under 250gram, then you don't need to register it.
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. To get guidance on operating permissions for drones see the CAA’s website for the latest information and regulations regarding drone use.
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.