Due to various incidents involving drones, (ask anyone who missed their flight from Gatwick in December 2018 if you can't recall any), there have been changes in regulations surrounding the piloting of these craft. As of 30 November 2019 it is now mandatory to register your drone (weighing over 250g) and complete an online test.
Do I need to register my drone?
The Civil Aviation Authority now states that there are two criteria for the use of drones in the UK. These both apply to drones (or unmanned aircraft) that weigh between 250g and 20kg.
The first is that anyone responsible for a drone must register as an operator, giving you an operator ID, which costs £9 and has to be renewed each year. The second is that anyone flying a drone must take and pass an online course and exam, giving you a flyer ID. There’s no cost involved, but the course must be completed every three years for you to retain the ID.
Once you’ve met both of these regulations you’ll also have to mark any drone you have with your operator number so that police and CAA know that it’s yours. Basically, make sure you don’t lend your drone to anyone as it will be your name that comes up if something goes wrong.
Those with existing CAA permission or exceptions for drone flying, or members of various model flying associations will not be required to pass the exam. But, you will need to discuss this with your relevant association to ensure that you’re allowed to pilot drones, as you wouldn’t want to get a fine or ban due to a technicality.
Those considering buying their first drone should also take a look at our roundup of the best drones.
How to pass the online course and get your flyer ID
The online test isn’t quite as arduous as it might first seem. Currently, it’s comprised of twenty multiple-choice questions of which you must answer at least sixteen correctly. There’s no age limit, but children under thirteen years of age will require a parent or guardian to be present when they register.
You’ll find everything you need to know in order to pass the test in the new Drone and Model Aircraft Code. When you’ve read and understood the code, you can take the online test and get your flyer ID.
How to register as an operator
If you will be the one responsible for a drone, you’ll need to visit the CAA site and register as an operator. You’ll need your credit or debit card to pay the £9 yearly fee and you’ll also be required to provide an email address that will be available to you while completing the application.
Once both the flyer ID and operator ID processes are complete you’ll be able fly or be responsible for a drone in the UK, but be aware that the certification is not valid outside of this territory.
Here more information on where you are allowed to fly a drone in the UK.
Registering your drone in the USA
Similar legislation also exists in the USA, where you’re required to register with the Federal Aviation Authority and label your drone with your registration number.
The registration only costs $5 and stays valid for three years. To find all the information you need, plus links to the online forms, visit the FAA drone registration site.