• Drone and model aircraft registration and education service 

    Update 5 November 2019

    Registration mandatory from: 30 November 2019

    The UK’s new Drone and Model Aircraft Registration and Education Service is now live.

    There are two elements to the online system.

    Anyone responsible for a drone or unmanned aircraft (including model aircraft) weighing between 250g and 20kg needs to register as an operator.  The cost for this is £9 renewable annually.

    Anyone flying a drone or unmanned aircraft (including model aircraft) weighing between 250g and 20kg must take and pass an online education package. This is free and renewable every three years.

    Both of these requirements become law on 30 November 2019.

    For holders of current CAA permissions or exemptions for drone operations (e.g. such as the permission related to commercial operations as required in ANO article 94(5)) and model flyers holding an achievement certificate issued by a UK model aircraft association with a CAA reviewed achievement scheme:

    Remote pilots flying in accordance with a permission, exemption or operational authorisation (e.g. such as the permission related to commercial operations as required in ANO article 94(5)) that has been issued to a named UAS operator by the CAA will be exempt from having to undertake the online education training and test.

    Similarly, where a UK model aircraft association already has an established and CAA reviewed ‘competency scheme’, members who hold an appropriate achievement certificate or award (such as the BMFA ‘A’ certificate) will also be exempt from having to undertake the online education training and test.  

    Any operators who are not covered under the conditions of a permission/exemption or do not hold a recognised association competency will need to complete the free online course.

    To allow operators to demonstrate competence if challenged (for example by the police) the CAA will be issuing a formal exemption that can be used alongside existing permissions / achievements and any other relevant documents.  This exemption will be in place until 30 June 2020, when new regulations are expected.  We will be working with stakeholders in 2020 to put these into place.

    For members of ARPAS-UK, British Model Flying Association (BMFA), Scottish Aeromodellers’ Association (SAA), Large Model Association (LMA) and FPV UK

    Members will not need to register as an operator with the CAA system if they are a current member of these associations. With permission, the associations will collect the registration fee from members directly and supply their data to the CAA. This will take place initially by 31 January 2020 and an exemption from the need to register will be put in place by 30 November to cover association members until then.

    The associations will issue further detailed guidance to their members in due course. 

    Please see the following websites for more details:

    Control line model aircraft flying

    The CAA will be issuing an exemption meaning those flying control line model aircraft will not need to comply with the registration or education regulations.


    About the new regulations

    The new regulations apply to drones and model aircraft from 250g to 20kg that are used outdoors.

    There are three main requirements. 

    You must:

    • pass an online test to get a flyer ID if you want to fly a drone or model aircraft
    • register for an operator ID if you’re responsible for a drone or model aircraft
    • label any drones and model aircraft you’re responsible for with your operator ID.

    Why we’re using the term drones and model aircraft

    Users of the new registration service range from experts to newcomers of all ages. In research, we found that using the description drones and model aircraft reflects the terms naturally used by the service’s users.

    Flyer ID

    Anyone who wants to fly must pass an online theory test on flying safely and legally. 

    The test has 20 multiple choice questions and the pass mark is 16. You can take the test as many times as you need.

    All of the knowledge needed to pass the test is in a new Drone and Model Aircraft Code.

    When you pass the test, you’ll get a flyer ID, which acts as your acknowledgement of competency as a remote pilot from the CAA.

    Minimum age: None, but children under 13 can only register with a parent or guardian present
    Registration period: 3 years
    Fee: Free

    Operator ID

    Anyone responsible for a drone or model aircraft must register as an operator. 

    When you register, you’ll get an operator ID with your certificate of registration. You must display your operator ID on your drones and model aircraft. You can use the same operator ID for all your drones and model aircraft.

    You must be aged 18 or over to be an operator.

    Minimum age: 18
    Registration period: 1 year
    Fee: £9

    Online and offline service

    People will be able to register and take the test online at the new service. There will be a link to the new service from caa.co.uk

    An offline service will be available for people unable to register online.

    Using a drone or model aircraft abroad

    UK registration is not valid outside the UK. 

    People will need to check with the relevant authority in their destination country for details of local requirements for flying drones and model aircraft.

  • Responsibilities for operators

    The information below is to help organisations understand what we expect in relation to operator responsibilities for Small Unmanned Aircraft.

    The listed responsibilities and activities are deemed to be the minimum and non-discretionary.

    Individuals and organisations should take necessary steps to inform themselves and make appropriate decisions about their obligations as an operator. 

  • The operator of an unmanned aircraft is the person or legal entity who has control over that aircraft and who organises how that aircraft is or may be used.  An unmanned aircraft operator has legal accountability for the safe “management” of the aircraft  (Article 94G of the Air Navigation Order).  This includes flights that are being undertaken by another person i.e. a separate remote pilot.

    Being responsible for the management of an unmanned aircraft means that the operator must take reasonable, proportionate and common- sense steps to manage the risks associated with any flight by that aircraft.  The following are some of the basic steps that all operators can take: to manage unmanned aircraft responsibly:

    • Read the instruction manual carefully
    • Register as an operator on the UK's registration service (legal requirement for unmanned aircraft weighing between 250g and 20Kg), and ensure the number is displayed appropriately on the aircraft.
    • Look after the aircraft, so that it is in safe working condition to fly
    • Where necessary, insure the aircraft or make sure the correct insurance cover is held
    • Decide carefully when and where the aircraft will be flown 
    • Decide carefully who may fly the aircraft
    • Ensure Check the remote pilot is suitably competent
    • Plan any aircraft flight carefully to minimise risk and reduce the chance of something going wrong

    There are a wide range of circumstances in which an unmanned aircraft flight can take place.  These range from one individual flying an aircraft for fun in a remote field through to a large delivery company using aircraft to deliver goods or services across the country, and a whole array of other options in between.  Because there are so many different circumstances it is impossible to provide a complete list of reasonable, proportionate and common sense steps that will manage the risks for every type of flight scenario. 

    The operator is responsible for being properly informed and deciding the necessary level of preparation, training, planning and oversight for the conditions and circumstances of the flight. 

    However, in general terms:

    • At all times, the operator will be responsible for being aware of and complying with the law relating to safe aircraft operations
    • At all times, the operator will be responsible for ensuring that anyone flying under their operator number is sufficiently competent to undertake the operation safely and has planned and will carry out their flight(s) accordingly;
    • The more complex or risky a proposed operation is the more extensive and detailed the planning and oversight of the proposed operations should be;
    • All operators will apply the appropriate level of experience, skills and resources to manage safety risks effectively.  The more complex the operation and level of safety risk, the higher the level of resource that should be devoted to operator responsibilities;
    • At all times the legal identity of the operator will need to be clear. Private member organisations or clubs without a formal legal status are unlikely to be able to meet these requirements.

    An unmanned aircraft operator's responsibilities cover not only their own flights (where they are also the remote pilot), but also the flights that another person - the remote pilot - makes with that operator's aircraft. 

    The remote pilot is responsible for executing the flight safely within the management framework determined by the operator. 

    The Police are responsible for taking enforcement action when it is believed that the requirements of the law have not been met. This action could be taken against a remote pilot or an operator dependent on the circumstances. It is important for the operator to take care to put in place sufficient management oversight for all flights, for which they are responsible. 

    For a national association to undertake the role of operator with its members as remote pilots the association would need to have considerable management oversight of all its members' aircraft to discharge be responsibility as an operator and meet many of the criteria set above. 

    We think this would be hard to meet in practice.

    For a club to register as an operator it would need to demonstrate the considerable management oversight of all its aircraft. We think this would be hard to meet in practice, though might depend on the precise scale and management arrangements for each individual club.