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A drone is a remote-controlled aircraft that doesn’t have a pilot on-board. Drones range from small children’s toys to large military systems. This includes remote-controlled model planes and helicopters.
There are different rules for different types (categories) of drone flight. The categories depend mainly on the weight of the drone, where you intend to fly, and how close you will be to people and built-up areas (towns and cities).
If you fly or own a drone, it’s your responsibility to make sure all flights are safe and legal.
The Drone and Model Aircraft Code is like the Highway Code for drones. It was created by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and it tells you how to fly a drone legally and safely.
The operator of a drone is usually the owner.
If a drone is not owned by a single person, then a designated person known as the manager is the operator. For example, if a club owns a drone that members can use, then the club must designate a manager for the drone.
If you are the operator you must register with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and get an OperatorID if the drone:
You must clearly display your OperatorID on every drone you own or manage.
You don’t need an OperatorID for a drone that is classed as a toy.
Your drone is likely to be a toy if:
Anyone flying (piloting) a drone that weighs over 250g must pass a basic test with the CAA to get a FlyerID. They must carry their FlyerID details at all times while flying.
Some categories have extra requirements for pilots.
You need insurance if:
Insurance must be at least EC 785/2004 standard.
This summary of the rules applies to most drone flights. But you must make sure you know which category your drone is in and exactly which rules apply.
Depending on which category of drone you’re flying you may need to stay at least:
The laws on flying drones are part of the Air Navigation Order 2016.
In the law:
The most important sections of the rules for drones are articles 265A to 265F, which are the rules on Drone Operators, Drone Pilots and Flight Categories.
If you’ve read the rules and you think someone might be breaking the law, you can report a crime to us:
Always call 999 in an emergency.
Our powers to do with drones are in part 3 of the Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft Act 2021.
If we think a drone could be connected to an offence, we can:
We can require you to show us:
We can also check a drone to understand which rules apply to it.