UK Drone Laws And Regulations | 2024 Explained

Drones are used in many fields like farming, photography, etc. The UK government makes new laws of 2024. Every drone pilot should follow UK drone laws. They should be aware of unauthorized and authorized zones for safe flight.

Table of Contents

  • The 2024 Drone Laws in the United Kingdom say that drone operators must be at least 12 years old to fly alone. 
  • Drones can’t fly higher than 400 feet (120 meters). 
  • Operators must always see their drones, ask before flying in restricted areas, and avoid flying within 5 kilometres of airports. 
  • They must stay at least 50 meters away from people. Drones under 250 grams can fly closer to people, while those over 250 grams must remain at least 150 meters away from parks, industrial areas, homes, and other built-up places. 
  • If a drone has a camera, the operator must register with the CAA and have insurance for commercial use. These rules apply day and night.

The UK is set to introduce stricter registration requirements and legal ID measures in 2024, aiming to enhance security and combat fraud.

Flyer ID

Flyer ID will help passengers move through airports and get on flights quickly. This will make travel safer and more efficient.

To Obtain Flyer ID

  • To get the FLYER ID in your area, research the requirements.
  • You should contact local government offices or check official websites. 
  • Collect all the needed documents and personal information. 
  • This could include proof of identity, residency, and any relevant certifications. Stay updated on any rule changes for FLYER IDs. 
  • Once you have everything, apply promptly and accurately. Delays or mistakes could make it take longer to get your FLYER ID. 
  • Understanding what’s needed will make the process smoother.

Operator ID

The new Operator ID will make registering and following the rules more accessible for businesses. It will also help track their activities and ensure they meet industry standards.

To obtain Operator ID

Obtaining an operator ID is essential for showing that you are professional and reliable in your industry.

  • It involves carefully following specific guidelines and preparing by documenting your qualifications, certifications, and experience. 
  • Getting your operator ID can help you grow in your career by making you more visible to potential clients and partners. 
  • It is not just about paperwork; it is about positioning yourself as a dedicated expert ready to make meaningful contributions to the field.
  • In 2024, the UK made new rules for people taking the Operator and Flyer ID test. 
  • The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) runs the test for anyone using drones or model planes in the UK. People who want to be operators or flyers need to know the latest rules from the CAA. 
  • The CAA’s test ensures drone operators and model plane flyers know how to be safe in UK airspace. 
  • It covers air law, aviation safety, weather, navigation, airspace rules, human factors, responsible flying, and more. 
  • Knowing these rules is essential as technology improves if you want to be part of this growing industry.

Drone Test Cost

IDValid forCost
Flyer ID5 Years$0
Operator ID1 Year$10
Drone test cost
UK drone laws

Legal label identification is a crucial aspect of drone ownership; it helps authorities enforce laws and allows for quick identification of owners in case of incidents. By clearly labelling drones with owner information and registration numbers, transparency and responsibility among drone users can be promoted.

This is essential in ensuring accountability for any misuse or accidents involving drones and contributes to creating a safer airspace environment for all. Proper labelling assists law enforcement and also encourages responsible behaviour among drone operators by making them aware of their obligations within the regulatory framework.

Police drones have new powers:

  • They can watch, collect evidence, and monitor public places without a warrant. People worry this gives the police too much power and violates privacy and civil rights.
  • Critics say using drones to watch people could lead to unfair monitoring and make people afraid to speak and gather.
  • Using drones with face recognition technology could harm people’s privacy. No clear rules exist for using these technologies, which could worsen worries about unfair targeting and wrong identification.
  • People also wonder how much force police drones should use, so there should be clear rules for when police can use drones.

Violation of police rules under UK drone laws cause:

  • In 2024, the UK made new drone laws that give the police more power to enforce rules and keep people safe.
  • The police can now stop and search people they think are breaking drone laws and take away drones that are breaking the rules.
  • This is meant to prevent people from doing illegal things with drones and deal with security problems. The new laws also let the police give instant fines for not following the rules.
  • The police now have better technology to find and catch people flying drones where they shouldn’t be.

Flying drones in UK, drone laws have changed since the first guidelines were set up. In 2024, drone operations are split into three categories: 

  • Open: The Open category has clear rules for flying drones weighing less than 25kg in certain areas.
  • Specific: The Specific category covers higher-risk operations that need approval from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). 
  • Certified: The Certified category is for professional drone pilots and organizations that need to do more dangerous operations. 

Flying Drones In The Open Category

Technology is changing fast. Drones in the open category have fewer rules so people can use them more freely. This has led to more creativity and the ability to capture amazing aerial footage.

The open category is split into three subcategories:

A1 (Fly over people): A1 is for smaller drones that can fly over people with less risk, allowing for more innovative uses in cities and crowded areas. It is important to enforce these rules properly to ensure safety.

A2 (Fly close to people): The A2 subcategory lets drones under 4kg fly near people with strict rules. This allows for capturing aerial footage in cities or at events.

A3 (Fly far from people): The A3 subcategory is for drones that weigh less than 25kg and are meant to be flown far from people. This helps drone operators know how to keep unmanned aircraft away from populated areas.

SubcategoryDrone weight limit UKRemote pilot minimum ageDrone operator registration
A1Under 250g16*(not, in case of toy drone)No
A2Under 4kg16*Yes
A3Under 25kg16*Yes
How to Operate drones in open category
flying drones uk

Points must be known as an average drone pilot flying in the open category:

  • Safety: Keeping your drone in sight and within altitude limits can lower the risk of crashes. Knowing local rules and getting permission before flying in certain areas is crucial. This includes being aware of temporary flight restrictions or no-fly zones.
  • Registration and Flyer ID: Registration and Flyer ID make drone pilots seem more professional and responsible. This creates a culture of openness in the drone community, where everyone knows what each pilot is doing, and it helps authorities and hobbyist flyers communicate better. 
  • Distance from people: Flying a drone safely means keeping a reasonable distance from people. This is important for showing respect and understanding between pilots and others. It helps to avoid disturbing people and causing potential dangers.
  • Adhere to the safety rules: Safety is a top priority, and following these rules keeps you and others safe and airspace intact. Understanding and following these guidelines helps traditional aircraft and drones coexist peacefully.
  • Local restrictions and permissions: Being informed about local limitations can prevent accidental rule-breaking and help drones and people get along better.

Flying Drones In The Specific Category

Flying drones in the specific category requires pilots to obtain approval from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), adding a layer of responsibility and regulation to the process. This category is commonly utilized for complex flights, such as industrial inspections or aerial photography in crowded areas, where precision and expertise are paramount.

Piloting drones in this specialized category demands a high level of skill and knowledge to navigate challenging environments safely. According to Part C of the Annex, the CAA can also give a Light UAS Certificate (LUC). Holders of a LUC with the correct privileges don’t need additional operational approval.

Flying Drones In The Certified Category 

Flying drones in the certified category represents a significant step towards ensuring safety, responsibility, and professionalism within the rapidly growing world of drone technology. Pilots who undergo the rigorous process of certification demonstrate their commitment to upholding high standards in operating drones, making them valuable assets in various industries.

The training and testing required for certification equip pilots with essential skills and knowledge that are crucial for safe and efficient drone operation. Certified flying drones contribute to building trust and credibility among clients and stakeholders, as they offer a higher level of assurance in terms of compliance with regulations and best practices.

The UK has made rules for drones to control their increasing use. Drones are categorized into C0, C1, C2, C3, and Specific. Each category has rules based on the drone’s weight and abilities.

Drone classesLegal guidelines
C0The C0 class includes small drones under 250 grams, which can be used for fun without needing a license and have a maximum speed of 42.5 mph. But they still have airspace restrictions to keep things safe and avoid plane problems.
C1C1 drones must weigh less than 900 grams and have a top speed of 42.5 mph. They should also be designed to minimize harm if they hit a person. These drones have to follow rules about noise, flying height, remote identification, and environmental awareness.
C2C2 drones are for short-distance flights, usually within sight. They have specific rules to prioritize safety. C2 drones must weigh less than 4kg and have a top speed of 6.7 mph.
C3In the C3 class, larger drones can be more dangerous if misused. There are rules about how they can be used, like not flying over crowds or populated areas without permission. Drones can weigh less than 25kg.
C4The C4 category covers drones that weigh between 900g and 25kg, which are considered higher risk. Pilots must complete specific training to operate drones in this category, including passing a knowledge test and a flight assessment.
Drone classes and their rules

In the UK, people who want to use drones for work need a license. There are three types of permits:

License typesDescriptionValid years
Permission for commercial operations (PFCO) drone license [no longer valid]It requires a rigorous application process to show high competency. Recently, it was replaced by the GVC and OA licenses, aiming to simplify the process while keeping safety standards.N/A
A2 certificate of competency drone licenseA2 Certificate of Competency is for flying drones in less crowded areas with fewer risks to people.5 Years
General visual line of sight certificate drone license (GVC)The GVC is for people who want to do more complicated operations than the Open category allows. To get it, you must take a training course and pass an exam about drone rules, safety, and emergencies.5 Years
Drone license UK
drone laws uk 2024

Tethered drones and remotely piloted aircraft are changing the landscape of aerial surveillance and data collection. By being connected to the ground, tethered drones can fly for extended periods with heightened stability, eliminating the need for frequent battery changes or landing. This advantage allows them to capture continuous and high-quality footage that was previously difficult to obtain with traditional drones.

The concept of drones operating within visual line of sight (VLOS) has revolutionized various industries by unlocking new potential. In the realm of agriculture, farmers can now efficiently survey and monitor their crops from above, enabling precise actions to be taken for improved yields. 

Operating drones within sight of the operator enhances safety and also allows for better control and decision-making in complex environments. The ability to maintain constant visual contact with the drone enables operators to respond to changing conditions and obstacles in real-time.

Drone flying regulations beyond visual line of sight play a critical role in ensuring the safety of the airspace. By allowing drones to operate at a distance where they are not directly visible to the operator, there is an increased risk of potential collisions with other aircraft and danger to people on the ground. Strict rules and guidelines must be implemented to mitigate these risks and ensure safe drone operations.

The CAA has a plan with four primary areas of focus called the four pillars:

  • Pilot Competency: The first pillar is Pilot Competency, which aims to improve the skills and knowledge needed for safe and efficient flying. This includes ongoing training and assessment of pilots to make sure they stay competent in different situations. By regularly evaluating pilot performance, the CAA can identify and fix any gaps in competence, leading to better safety in the aviation industry.
  •  Flightworthiness: The CAA ensures that all aircraft are safe and well-maintained by conducting regular inspections and maintenance checks. They follow specific guidelines and regulations to prioritize safety and reduce risks in the aviation industry.
  •  Risk assessment focuses on finding potential threats and weaknesses in the aviation industry. The CAA wants to minimize risks before they become big safety problems. They evaluate weather, technology, human error, and operations.
  •  Airspace: The CAA intends to use new technologies and methods, like satellite navigation and digital communication tools, to make flight paths more direct and reduce delays. This will make the passenger experience better.

SORA is critical for drone safety. It helps operators find and evaluate risks for their specific mission, considering location, weather, and airspace. Operators can prevent problems and follow the rules by doing a SORA, making their operations safer.

Current guidance And Future Implementation Of SORA

The current guidance for SORA helps evaluate operational risks for unmanned aircraft based on mission, environment, and capabilities. In the future, SORA may focus more on real-time data monitoring and adaptive risk management.

Regulatory Status And Timeline For UK SORA

The UK SORA changes how unmanned aircraft are regulated. The goal is to allow advanced operations like flying beyond the pilot’s sight and over people, essential for industries like delivery and infrastructure inspection.

Operational Authorizations And Operating Safety Cases

Active authorizations from aviation authorities can be challenging without a thorough risk assessment. By using the SORA framework, drone operators can show they are managing risks proactively, which can help them get operational authorizations more easily.

SORA Methadology And Comparison To CAP 722A

Compared to CAP 722A, SORA is more flexible and can be adjusted for different missions. CAP 722A is suitable for general drone operations but may be better for specialized operations. SORA focuses on customizing risk assessment for each mission, which helps to evaluate potential dangers more accurately.

Guidance For UK Drone Operators In The Interim Period

The Specific Operating Risk Assessment (SORA) is essential for identifying and reducing potential hazards. SORA helps evaluate risks for each mission by looking at airspace, system, environment, and external factors. It allows operators to assess threats and create ways to reduce risk. SORA also lets operators adjust risk management based on specific conditions and mission goals.

are drones legal in uk

In May 2023, drone laws UK are changes. This has made drone fans feel both excited and worried. The new rules will affect people who fly drones for fun and those who use them for work. The rules will be stricter about where and when drones can be passed.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is making these changes to ensure drones are used safely and don’t invade people’s privacy. The significant change is that all drones weighing more than 250 grams must be registered online. This ensures people are responsible for their drones and help catch rule-breakers. New technology will be used to prevent drones from going into restricted areas, making things even safer.

People who use drones for work will need permission from the CAA and must follow specific training and professional rules. These changes show that the UK is making drone use more controlled and organized, which will help people use drones responsibly.

In 2024, the places where drones can fly are changing a lot. Drones are being used more in different industries, so there’s a more significant need for specific areas where they can fly safely.

Always Fly Your Drone Below 400

Always fly your drone below 400 feet. In 2024, the demand for drone operations has increased, leading to authorized areas for flying drones. These spaces ensure safety for both drones and people on the ground. It is essential to fly responsibly as more people use drones.

Adjust Your Flight Ceiling In Mountainous Or Hilly Areas

Drone operators will be told to change their flying height in mountainous or hilly areas to deal with the challenges of those landscapes. This is different from the old rules that focused on flat areas. The change will make drone flights safer and more efficient in different environments.

Do Not Fly Closer To People Than 50M

Safety and privacy are paramount, so drones cannot fly closer than 50 meters to people. This rule helps keep people safe and opens up more opportunities for drones to fly in cities. Technology is also being used more to manage where drones can fly.

Official UK Drone Distancing Laws

New technology helps authorities choose specific areas for drone use. These areas are picked for safety, security, and protecting the environment and wildlife. Some people disagree about these rules, saying they might limit creativity, while others like the order and responsibility.

Foreign operators usually need a UK flyer ID and operator ID before they can fly their drones in the country. Depending on drone size, flight purpose, and location, they might also need UK permission for specific flights. If foreign operators have done the required online training, passed a drone pilot exam, and got a remote pilot competency certificate in any EASA Member State, they can bring their drones to the UK.

Getting valid UK permission for specific flights can be complicated and take a long time. Each application is looked at on its own. Foreign drone pilots should contact a UK-based drone operator or ask the CAA for advice before getting permission. The CAA can approve foreign operators to fly in the UK if they meet the same safety standards as UK-based operators.

uk drone license

Drone flying rules in the UK apply to different places like homes, parks, businesses, and factories. It would help to stay at least 150 meters away from these areas to keep people and property safe. If needed, this distance can be increased for safe flying. Small drones under 250 grams can be flown in these places, but safety is always the most important thing.

  • Residential sites include buildings, gardens, parks, and schools. Recreational sites are tourist spots, sports areas, and beaches.
  • Commercial sites are shopping centers, warehouses, and highways.
  • Industrial sites are factories, docks, and police stations. Safety should be the primary concern when flying.

Areas around airports, airfields, and spaceports are unsafe for flying drones or model aircraft. These areas are called flight restriction zones (FRZs) and are meant to reduce the risk of hitting planes or spacecraft. It would help if you had airport, airfield, or spaceport permission to fly in or near these zones. Even without an FRZ, it is important to avoid flying near these places if it could be dangerous for planes.

Stay at least 5 kilometres from an airport without permission. Resources are available to learn about flight restriction zones and other airspace rules. The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has an online map with these restrictions; some drone apps also have this information.

Navigating drone insurance requirements in the UK can be tricky because rules and standards are constantly changing. Drone operators need to follow the strict insurance rules set by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

All commercial drone operators must have public liability insurance with at least 750,000 in coverage. This insurance protects against accidental damage or injury caused by drones during flight. It is also important to consider the specific needs of different industries.

Drones And Model Aircraft Below 20kg

In the UK, you must have legal insurance if you use drones or model aircraft under 20kg. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) says all drone users must have third-party liability insurance. This insurance covers damage or injury caused by unmanned aircraft. You must follow these insurance rules even if you fly drones for fun. If you don’t, you can get hefty fines and legal trouble.

Before you fly in the UK, you may need different permissions:

Landowner Permission

Getting permission from the landowner is essential before flying a drone in the UK. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) says all drone operators must ask the landowner or local authorities for permission before flying over private land.

Obtaining Local Authority Permission

Depending on where you want to fly, you might need approval from local councils or landowners. This permission is essential to follow local rules and avoid legal problems.

Local Police Permission

When you tell the local police about your flight plans, it helps them and emergency services know where you are flying. This makes flying safer for you and others. It also shows that you are being responsible and taking action to follow the rules for flying.

Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Permission

Depending on your flight, you might need clearances like a Flight Information Service Officer (FISO) permission for specific airports. If you want to do aerial work, like photography or drone surveying, you need a CAA Permission for Commercial Operations (PfCO).

Network Rail Permission If Flying Near The Railway

This is very important for safety and to prevent problems with the rail network. You need Air Traffic Control (ATC) permission if you fly in controlled airspace. It is essential to be proactive and check for any NOTAMs or Temporary Restricted Areas that could affect your flight.

Contacting Local ATC Permission If Flying Near An Airport

When you’re flying close to an airport, getting in touch with the local Air Traffic Control (ATC) is essential. This will help you follow airspace rules and plan your flight alongside other aircraft. It is all about staying safe and avoiding any conflicts with other planes.

Nuclear Facilities Permission

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has strict rules about flying near these places. To get permission from a nuclear facility, you have to follow the CAA’s rules and ask the facility directly if you need to. This might mean giving them your flight plans, getting security clearance, and following their rules and the CAA’s.

Prison, Military Bases Permission

Getting permission from prisons and military bases can be complicated due to their sensitive nature. It is important to talk to prison authorities early and explain why you need to fly over the prison. When flying near military bases, following strict rules is crucial to avoid security issues.

National Trust Permission

When you plan to fly to the UK, you must get the National Trust’s permission. They take care of over 500 old houses, gardens, and ancient sites, and it is essential to protect them. You must remember that using drones or flying near these places might need particular permission because of nature and privacy concerns. The National Trust has strict rules about using drones and taking aerial photos on their land.

UK drone laws

In 2024, the UK will make new laws about drone privacy. When you fly drones or model aircraft, it is essential to consider privacy. Respecting others’ privacy and not intruding when flying drones is crucial. There are rules about using photos and videos from drones. Using a drone’s camera or listening device to invade someone’s privacy, like taking pictures or recordings inside their home or garden, is likely breaking data protection laws.

It is also illegal to use visual or audio content for criminal reasons. Any images or recordings taken with a drone might be covered by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which protects people’s data. Knowing others’ privacy and following the law when using drones is essential.

Ensuring Visibility And Accountability

In 2024, the UK will change its drone privacy laws to ensure people can see and track drones. More drones being used has worried people about privacy, so the government is making rules to balance new ideas with protecting people’s rights. All drones must be registered and have a visible number on them. This will help ensure people can see and report if drones are being misused.

Ethical And Lawful Drone Photography

As drones are used more for taking pictures and watching over areas, it is essential to have clear rules for ethical and legal drone photography. These rules protect people’s privacy and allow the legitimate use of drones for taking pictures, making films, and surveying from the air.

A small town in Yorkshire made its own drone rules. The town council passed a law saying drone operators need a permit to fly in the area. This has led to debates about how much power local governments should have to make and enforce rules, especially when there are already national laws. It makes people think about how much control the central government should have compared to local governments regarding new technologies like drones.

Tall Structures

The general rule is to stay at least 50 meters away from people, vehicles, buildings, and structures. This can be hard near skyscrapers. Pilots must think about both vertical and horizontal distance for safe flying. They must also watch for signal interference from the building’s materials and electromagnetic fields.

FPV Drone Flying Laws

In FPV drone flying, UK laws have some unique rules. For example, CAA regulations say it is illegal to fly a drone within 50 meters of people, vehicles, or buildings not controlled by the pilot. This is a challenge for FPV racing enthusiasts who must pass close to obstacles for an exciting racing experience.

Follow Me mode Drone Legality

The follow-me mode allows a drone to act independently, making it hard for regulators to control. Current laws may not clearly define who is responsible for the drone’s actions in this mode.

Flying A Drone Indoors

Most rules are for flying outside, but washing inside has its problems. It is hard to control the drone in a small space; people or things might be in the way. The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) doesn’t have rules for indoor drone use, so operators must figure out what to do.

drone rules uk

After Brexit, the new UK drone laws have caused excitement and concern among drone fans and industry players.

Drone Classification

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is making a new system called the Open Category and Specific Category. It will make things easier for pilots to keep up with the latest technology. The Open Category will let hobbyist pilots use certain drones in specific places. This will also ensure all pilots get good training and know how to be safe.

Class Marking System

The Civil Aviation Authority is introducing a new system to mark different classes of drones. Pilots must learn the new rules and categories to follow safety standards. Drones will be put into other classes based on their weight and what they can do. Pilots will need to figure out which class their drones belong to and follow the rules for that class.

Retrospective Classification

UK drone pilots are dealing with significant changes because some drone models are being reclassified. Many drones need to be reclassified or upgraded to follow new rules. Some drone enthusiasts are initially frustrated, allowing pilots to think about their equipment and new technology.

To fly a drone in the UK, drone pilots must follow the UK drone laws of 2024. These laws constantly change, so staying updated and getting the proper training and certification is crucial. By doing this, drone enthusiasts can keep enjoying their hobby while following the rules of the Civil Aviation Authority.

Can I Report a Drone over my Property in UK?

Reporting a drone over your property can help make sure rules are followed and risks are avoided. It is important to report a drone carefully and not make assumptions. Knowing the laws about drones in the UK can help people handle these situations well.

What are the Penalties for Flying a Drone over an Airport in the UK?

Flying a drone over a UK airport is very dangerous and against the law. The punishment for this reckless behavior is serious, including fines up to 2,500 and possibly going to jail for putting planes and passengers in danger.

Jaweria Malik