We use necessary cookies to make our website work. We'd also like to use optional cookies to understand how you use it, and to help us improve it.

For more information, please read our cookie policy.

UK Civil Aviation Regulations

These are published by the CAA on our UK Regulations pages. EU Regulations and EASA Access Guides published by EASA no longer apply in the UK. Our website and publications are being reviewed to update all references. Any references to EU law and EASA Access guides should be disregarded and where applicable the equivalent UK versions referred to instead.

The UK’s drone rules are based on the risk of the flight – where you fly, the proximity to other people, and the size and weight of your drone.

The rules don’t apply if you are flying indoors. Flights within buildings, or within areas where there is no possibility for the drone to escape into the open air (such as a closed netted structure) are not subject to aviation legislation.

The main rules and advice are covered in our Drone and Model Aircraft Code

Key rules include:

  • Never fly more than 120m (400ft) above the surface
  • Always keep your drone or model aircraft in sight
  • Never fly in an airport’s flight restriction zone unless you have permission

Registration and flyer ID

If your drone has a camera (unless it is a toy) or weighs 250g or more then you need to register with the CAA. You need to renew this registration every year. This is a registration of you as the operator rather than the drone itself.

Anyone flying a drone weighing 250g or more needs to pass a test and get a flyer ID from the CAA. This is free and online. Regardless of whether you legally need a flyer ID we strongly recommend that you do the learning and test as it gives you valuable information on flying your drone safely. If you already have a flyer ID that is still valid, you don’t need to re-do the test until it expires, although you are required to keep up to date with the new regulations. You can register, get your flyer ID and find more information at register-drones.caa.co.uk

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


Wherever you fly your drone, consider the privacy of others. Our Drone and Model Aircraft code offers advice https://register-drones.caa.co.uk/drone-code/protecting-peoples-privacy

Drone rules

The drone rules are based on risk and divided into three categories: Open, Specific, and Certified.

The Open category is intended for low-risk drone flights, for example because you are flying a lightweight drone or operating in the countryside.

(Members of a recognised UK model flying associations (BMFA, SAA, LMA & FPVUK) will be operating under the terms of a specific authorisation and should confirm details with their association.)

The Specific category is for higher risk flights such as flying a heavier drone over an urban area. To be allowed to fly in this category you will need an operating approval.

The Certified category is for large drones which have to meet specific safety certifications along the lines of aircraft.

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.

If you are taking your drone on an airline flight, then remember to carry any batteries with you in your hand luggage. This video has some useful advice on travelling with your drone.

When you are travelling through an airport with your drone please avoid turning it on as this may trigger the airport's drone detection safety systems. 

Transcript for Guidance for passengers travelling with a drone

When you're travelling with the drone, after you've got off the flight, you might want to give it a check over physically make sure it's okay make sure there's no damage, please, whatever you do, don't actually turn your drone or controller on.

Most major airports these days have drone detection systems in place. And by turning the drone on, even if you're not going to fly in the airport terminal building will activate those alarms and that's not what we want.

Close Using a drone or model aircraft abroad

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.

When you are travelling through an airport with your drone please avoid turning it on as this may trigger the airport's drone detection safety systems. 

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

Drones under 250g

If your drone is under 250g then there are some variations to some of the rules. If your drone has a camera then you must register as an operator but you do not have to complete the flyer ID test (although we strongly recommend that you do).

If you’re flying a drone or model aircraft that’s lighter than 250g, you can fly closer to people than 50m and you can fly over them, but you must not fly over crowds.

When you’re thinking about how close you can fly, remember, you must never put people in danger. Even small drones and model aircraft could injure people if you don’t fly them safely. You must also follow all the other rules for drone flying.

We consider the following as flying objects, so they do not fall within the definition of a drone or remotely piloted aircraft:

  • Paper aeroplanes
  • Hand launched gliders, but only those with no moveable control surfaces or remote-control link
  • Frisbees, darts and other thrown toys
Close Drones under 250g

Airspace and restrictions

The airspace that drones and model aircraft fly in is shared with all other types of aviation. Before flying a drone or model aircraft, you must check for any airspace restrictions as part of your pre-flight planning. Temporary airspace restrictions are also frequently put in place across the UK. You can find out more on our airspace information section.

Close Airspace and restrictions

Using a drone for work

There is no distinction between flying commercially and flying for pleasure or recreation. This means that an approval just to operate commercially is not required. However, all commercial drone flights require valid insurance cover.

Any further requirements will be dictated by the category of the flight.

Operations under the Specific category will require an Operational Authorisation from the CAA. 

If you are flying as part of a business or as a freelancer then you should carefully read our more detailed guidance

Close Using a drone for work

Operators and their responsibilities

The following information describes the core responsibilities of the operators of drone and model 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.


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.

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.

Close Operators and their responsibilities

Staying up to date with information

To stay up to date with new rules, safety information and airspace restrictions we recommend you sign up to the drone and airspace alert categories in our SkyWise email alerting system at http://skywise.caa.co.uk/

Close Staying up to date with information

Enforcing drone rules

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. Penalties range from warnings to the confiscation of drones and even imprisonment.

If you have any concerns about unmanned aircraft being used in your area, either from a safety or privacy perspective, contact your local police on 101 or if it is an immediate threat to safety or security call 999.

Close Enforcing drone rules

Class marks

Drone class marks being rolled out across European Union nations will not currently be used or recognised in the UK. Following a public consultation and formal government decision, the UK will keep the existing legacy provisions until 1 January 2026. Before then, together with government, we will review regulations for unmanned aircraft, including the open category. For more detail see our November news story.

Close Class marks

Regulation of Police UAS

Police UAS operations fall outside the scope of UK Regulation (EU) 2019/947. This is because these activities are outside the scope of the primary legislation that this regulation falls under (UK Regulation (EU) 2018/1139 – ‘The Basic Regulation’), as set out in Article 2.

There is, however, a requirement for the CAA to ensure that police UAS operations take due regard of the safety objectives of the Basic Regulation, and that they are separated safely from other aircraft. Additionally, the Air Navigation Order 2016 requirements still apply, including (but not limited to) the requirement to not recklessly or negligently act in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft, and to not recklessly or negligently cause or permit an unmanned aircraft to endanger any person or property.

The CAA is actively engaged with the Department for Transport, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and other government agencies to establish suitable policy to cover this area.

Until this policy is in place, police UAS operators are reminded that whilst they do not fall within the scope of the Basic Regulation, current NPCC operational guidance is that all police UAS operations remain within the confines of extant regulation. Any queries in relation to this operational guidance should be directed to the NPCC Drones Mailbox.

Offences set out within the Air Navigation Order Article 265A, 265B and 265C are based on requirements of UK Regulation (EU) 2019/947. For UAS operators and remote pilots out of scope of this regulation, then no such offence is created.

Close Regulation of Police UAS