• Anyone who wants to fly a drone for commercial work (generally referred to as aerial work) needs a Permission from the CAA. You will need to be at least 18 years of age.

    To get this Permission, you will need to:

    • 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

    There are a number of recognised assessment organisations that can help you meet these requirements. The NQE will generally help you develop an operations manual and will offer advice on completing any additional paperwork.

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

    Please allow up to 28 working days for your permission to be processed.

  • A Permission for Aerial Work (PFAW) is valid for up to 12 months and is subject to an annual renewal.

    You should apply to renew your PFAW at least 30 days before the Permission period is due to expire.

    How to renew or change your PFAW

    If you want to start using a different weight class of drone that is not approved by your PFAW, you will need to contact us immediately and not wait until the PFAW expires.

    The PFAW allows 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).

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

    Please see the Official Record Series 5  - Scheme of Charges (General Aviation).

    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.

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

    NQE organisations will:

    • Run full or restricted modular courses
    • Make a recommendation to the CAA about the pilot's competence
    • This recommendation provides the basis for the CAA granting a PFAW

    Most NQEs provide the full course and this is suitable for those with no previous aviation training or qualifications.

    A typical NQE full-course involves:

    • pre-entry/online study
    • 1-3 days of classroom lessons and exercises
    • a written theory test
    • a flight assessment

    After successfully completing the theory element, the pilot will:

    • develop their own operations manual
    • practice aircraft operation/flying skills for the practical flight assessment.

    Flight assessments

    These are completed at your own pace and:

    • usually arranged separately but may be available on the last day of the course
    • have no structured syllabus or sequence of numbered exercises


    Concessions against the theory part of the course are possible if you have:

    • flying experience (including model aircraft)
    • a licence or certificate that allows you to fly in un-segregated airspace (PPL, glider rating)

    See Section 2, Chapter 4 of CAP 722 for full details.

    Restricted NQE (Flight Assessment Only)

    • AJS Support Ltd
    • ATEC-3D
    • CEFAS
    • Cyberhawk
    • Greater Manchester Fire Rescue Service (Manchester Fire) (Emergency Services Only)
      Sentinel Aviation

    Full NQE

    • 3iC Ltd
    • Aerial Motion Pictures Ltd
    • Cambridge UAV
    • Drone Pilot Academy
    • Flyby Technology
    • Heliguy
    • Lancashire Fire Rescue Service (Emergency Services Only)
    • Martek Drones Trading As Coptrz
    • Resource Group
    • RTP Rheinmetall - RUSTA
    • SalusUAV Ltd
    • Sky-Futures
    • StratAero PLC
    • The Aerial Academy
    • The Great Circle
    • The UAV Academy Ltd
    • UAV Air (Consortiq)
    • UAV8 Ltd
    • Uplift Drone Training
    • Whispercam


  • If you are interested in becoming an NQE please email your details to UAVenquiries@caa.co.uk.

    Please be aware that applications for NQE status are currently taking up to 90 working days to process.