Until now you've been able to buy and fly a drone in the UK anonymously. You just had to obey the rules of the UK Dronecode and fly only where you were allowed to.
But by 30 November you must register your drone and pass an online test to show that you can fly safely.
At a glance:
- Drones between 250g and 20Kg must be registered
- Registrations costs £9 per year
- Operator ID must be displayed on your drone(s)
- You and anyone who flies it must have passed the online safety test
How do I register a drone in the UK?
- Minimum age: 18
- Renewal period: 12 months
From 5 November you can apply to register your drones and model aircraft on the CAA website.
Originally it was planned to cost £16.50 per year, but this has now been dropped to £9. That's still considerably more than US owners pay. The FAA fee is $5 for a three-year period.
The fee covers all the drones and model aircraft you own, weighing between 250g and 20kg. If your drone is lighter than that, it does not need to be registered.
You must have registered by 30 November 2019 or you could be fined up to £1000.
If you want to fly a drone for commercial purposes (which includes things such as creating wedding videos for which you're paid) then you will need permission from the CAA. This isn't a licence as such, but it will still cost you to take a training course, such as this one provided by Heliguy.
Check out our recommendations of the best drones.
Do I have to take a safety test?
Yes. This is free, but you and anyone who flies your drone must take and pass the test in order to fly a drone. There are 20 multiple-choice questions cover the rules and regulations of drone flying in the UK and you must get at least 16 correct to pass. You can take the test as many times as you need to.
- Minimum age: None, but those under 13 will need a parent or guardian to register an account
- Renewal period: 3 years
The test will be conducted online on the CAA website. Once you pass, you will be given a flyer ID, which is separate to the operator ID.
Can I fly a drone wherever I want?
No. You still have to follow the rules of the UK Dronecode, and also look out for local restrictions - certain local parks and open spaces prohibit any and all drones, regardless of how much they weigh. Here's where you can fly a drone in the UK.
These are the basic rules:
- Keep your drone in your line of sight
- Stay below 400ft (120m)
- Follow the manufacturer's instructions
- Keep your distance (50m from people and property, 150m from crowds and built-up areas)
- You are responsible for each flight
- Keep at least 5km away from aircraft, airports and airfields
If you're looking for a drone that doesn't have to be registered check out these lightweight, cheap drones.