• Permissions and/or exemptions are valid for up to 12 months and are subject to an annual renewal.  

    They allow flights within the UK subject to the conditions and limitations specified.  However, the greater the amount of ‘freedom of operation’ that you require (in terms of locations, procedures and the duration of the permission), then the greater the amount of information you need to provide us (in terms of demonstrating that you can operate safely).

    A permission from the CAA is required to be held if you wish to conduct a commercial operation with your aircraft (iaw ANO 2016 article 94[5]), or if you wish to fly your aircraft:

    • within 150m of either a congested area or an organised open air crowd or more than 1000 persons (iaw ANO2016 article 95),
      and/or
    • within 50m of people or properties/objects that are not under your control (iaw ANO2016 article 95)

    An Exemption from the CAA is required if you wish to seek release from any other requirement within ANO 2016
    In both cases however, the CAA must still be suitably satisfied that the operation can be conducted safely
    Two types of Permission are available;

    Standard Permission

    This enables a person to conduct commercial operations with a small unmanned aircraft (drone) and also permits drones weighing 7kg or less to be operated within a congested area.  Potential operators are required to provide evidence of pilot competence and an Operations Manual which details how the flights will be conducted.

    Non-Standard Permission

    This covers all other types of flight and addresses operations that contain a greater element of operating risk.  In addition to the requirements for a Standard Permission, applicants are also required to prepare and submit an Operating Safety Case (OSC) to the CAA.

    Full details of the pilot competence requirements and the OSC can be found in our guidance document CAP 722.

    Please note that Permissions and Exemptions only authorise the commercial use of a drone from a safety perspective. Operators are still subject to rules and regulations imposed by other bodies and organisations. These may include the emergency services, the Highways agency and local authorities. Before beginning a job in a particular location a permission holder should always check with all relevant bodies to establish what, if any, restrictions apply.

    Operators should also be sure they understand the rules around trespass and nuisance. 

  • How to apply

    Anyone who wants to fly a drone for commercial work (often also referred to as aerial work) needs a Permission from the CAA (take careful note that this is not a licence).  

    To get this Permission, you will need to:

    • Remote Pilot Competence
      • Demonstrate a sufficient understanding of aviation theory (airmanship, airspace, aviation law and good flying practice). 
      • Pass a practical flight assessment (flight test).

    • Develop basic procedures for conducting the type of flights you want to do and set these out in an Operations Manual.
    • If your intended operation requires an approval with greater privileges than in a Standard Permission, you will also need to provide us with an Operating Safety Case to demonstrate that the intended operation is appropriately safe.

    Details are available in our guidance document CAP 722, including the requirements for pilot competence.  

    The CAA does not organise or run assessment courses but we approve commercial organisations, known as National Qualified Entities (NQEs) to do this assessment on out behalf.  

    Anyone interested in getting a CAA Permission should first contact one of the NQEs shown on our guidance for operators page in order to obtain the required proof of remote pilot competence. The NQE will generally help you develop an operations manual and will offer advice on completing the additional paperwork. 

    Some concessions from the full remote pilot competence requirements are available if you already have suitable aviation (piloting) qualifications such as previous model aircraft flying qualifications or a licence or certificate that allows you to fly in non-segregated UK airspace (PPL, gliding certificate, etc).  At the present time suitable British Model Flying Association (BMFA) certificates are accepted and although not listed, equivalents from the Scottish Model Association and Large Model Association will also be accepted.  Previous military flying experience may also be accepted, the general requirement being that the pilot already has qualifications or experience in flying an aircraft in non-segregated UK airspace (i.e. not limited to flying only within military ranges, training areas or on active military service overseas).  

    The full range of available concessions (acceptable alternative evidence of pilot competency) is set out in more detail in CAP722.

    Once you meet the requirements you can make an application using form SRG 1320 to UAVenquiries@caa.co.uk.

    Insurance

    Insurance that meets the requirements specified in EC Regulation 785/2004 will need to be obtained by an operator.  Applicants should discuss these requirements directly with insurance providers.  

    Our charges

    The price for Permission depends on the mass of the aircraft. 

    Current charges range from £173 – £1211, but there is no limit on a maximum number of drones. The renewal cost is reduced for subsequent years.

    Details of our charges can be found in the General Aviation Scheme of Charges at paragraph 3.11

    Note that the current turn-around time for a standard permission is 28 Working Days, this time scale applies when the CAA has received all required documentation and payment.