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UK – EU Transition, and UK Civil Aviation Regulations

To access current UK civil aviation regulations, including AMC and GM, CAA regulatory documents, please use this link to UK Regulation. Please note, if you use information and guidance under the Headings below, the references to EU regulations or EU websites in our guidance will not be an accurate information or description of your obligations under UK law. These pages are undergoing reviews and updates.

You must register before flying most drones or model aircraft outdoors in the UK.

There are two requirements and you may need to meet both:

  • if you’ll fly, you must pass a theory test to get a flyer ID
  • if you’re responsible for a drone or model aircraft, you must register for an operator ID

You can register your drone and become an operator on the Drone Registration website  (opens in new window)

The registration website also hosts the Drone and Model Aircraft Code which provides the main rules and guidance for flying in the UK. 

About the regulations

UK drone and model aircraft regulations were updated in December 2020.

There are three categories of flying:

  • Open category is basic, low-risk flying and is the starting point for anyone flying a drone or model aircraft.
  • Specific category covers operations with a greater risk than those covered by the Open category, or where one or more elements of the operation fall outside the boundaries of the Open category.
  • Certified category covers operations that present an equivalent risk to that of manned aviation.

Operator ID requirements for people applying for a CAA Operational Authorisation (OA)

If you want to fly in the Specific category, you must have an operational authorisation as well as an operator ID and flyer ID.

You will need to get your operator ID before you apply for your operational authorisation. The details you use when registering for your operator ID and applying for your operational authorisation must match.

The table below shows:

  • how to register for your operator ID depending on whether you’re an individual, partnership, or other organisation
  • what details to give when you apply for your operational authorisation

Once you have your operator ID, you can apply for your operational authorisation.

Who is registering Type of operator ID registration you need Name details required for your operator registration Name details required for your operational authorisation
Individual person Individual Your full name Your full name
Organisation, such as:
  • charity
  • limited company
  • unlimited company
  • public educational establishment
  • limited liability partnership
  • public sector body
Organisation The full name of the organisation.

The full name of the organisation.

If you plan to operate in the specific category, this must be the same as stated in your Operations Manual.

Partnership

You can choose to register as an individual or as an organisation

Individual Your full name

Partnership name

If you plan to operate in the specific category, the accountable manager must be as stated in your Operations Manual.

  Organisation Full trading name of the partnership All partners’ full names; plus the trading name if applicable

Online and offline service

You can register and take the test online.

If you’re not able to use the online service, you can call 0330 022 9930, Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 4:30pm.

Using a drone or model aircraft abroad

UK flyer IDs and operator IDs are not valid outside the UK.

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

If you want to fly your drone or model aircraft in an EU member state, you must register as an operator in that state. There are some exceptions to this, and you should check with the specific member state concerned.

Drone and model aircraft requirements for visitors to the UK from overseas

If you want to use your drone or model aircraft in the UK, you must follow the UK regulations for flying a drone or model aircraft. In most cases, you’ll need to get a UK flyer ID and operator ID.

Operators and their responsibilities

The following information describes the core responsibilities of the operators of drone and model aircraft (unmanned aircraft). While this will help you understand the minimum requirements, you must take necessary steps to inform yourself and make appropriate decisions about your responsibilities as an operator.

Who an operator is

The operator is the person or organisation that organises and manages how a drone or model aircraft is used.

They are legally accountable for the safe management of the aircraft and must decide the necessary level of preparation, training, planning and oversight for the conditions and circumstances of flights. This includes flights they carry out themselves or that are carried out by anyone else using the operator’s aircraft.

Relationship with pilot (flyer) responsibilities

The pilot is responsible for carrying out the flight safely within the management framework set out by the operator.

Operators must make sure they have effective management oversight for all flights using their aircraft.

Core operator responsibilities

Operators must take reasonable, proportionate and common-sense steps to manage the risks associated with any flight.

In the Open Category, operators must:

  • be aware of and comply with the law relating to safe and legal operations
  • make sure that anyone flying under their operator ID is sufficiently competent to undertake the operation safely and legally
  • make sure that flyers have planned ahead and will carry out flights safely and legally
  • keep any software on the drone or model aircraft up to date, including any information on airspace restrictions
  • make sure pilots are aware of any airspace restrictions
  • in the case of class marked drones or model aircraft, make sure the class mark is not removed
  • apply the appropriate level of experience, skills and resources to manage safety risks effectively; the more complex or risky a proposed operation is, the more extensive and detailed the planning and oversight of the proposed operations must be

Basic actions

  • Read the instruction manual carefully.
  • Register as an operator (this is a legal requirement for all drones or model aircraft weighing 250g or over; and for all drones or model aircraft with a camera, apart from toys).
  • Label your aircraft with your operator ID.
  • Look after your aircraft to ensure it is in safe working condition to fly.
  • Where required, insure the aircraft or make sure the correct insurance cover is held.
  • Carefully decide when and where your aircraft will be flown.
  • Carefully decide who may fly your aircraft.
  • Ensure the remote pilot is competent to carry out the flight safely and legally.
  • Plan your flight carefully to minimise risk and reduce the chance of something going wrong.

Police enforcement

The Police are responsible for taking enforcement action when it is believed that the requirements of the law have not been met.

Depending on the circumstances, this action could be taken against the operator, remote pilot, or both.

Clubs and associations and the role of operator

For a club or association to undertake the role of operator with its members as remote pilots, the club or association would need to have considerable management oversight of its members' aircraft. We think this would be hard to achieve in practice.

Since the legal identity of the operator must be clear, organisations or clubs without a formal legal status are unlikely to be able to meet the operator requirements.

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