In the UK you need to register before flying most drones or model aircraft outdoors. There are two requirements and you may need to meet both of them depending on your intended use.
- if you’ll be the pilot flying the drone you must pass a theory test to get a flyer ID
- if you’ll be the one responsible for a drone or model aircraft, you must register for an operator ID
In some cases, the same person will be required to have both of these and you can apply to get get both your flyer ID and operator ID at the same time.
“It is against the law to fly a drone or model aircraft without having the required IDs. You can also be fined for breaking the law when flying. In the most serious cases, you could be sent to prison”
Toys, small drones and model aircraft: You do not need to register if you will only fly or use the following types of drone or model aircraft:
- toys below 250g or in C0 class
- those in C0 class with no camera, whether they are a toy or not
- those below 250g with no camera and no class mark, whether they’re a toy or not
The flyer is the person who flies the drone or model aircraft. You must pass an online theory test to get a flyer ID. The test is free on the CAA website but does require some preparation beforehand which Aviation Insider provides in our Drone Services section.
The operator is the person responsible for managing a drone or model aircraft. This means they’re responsible for things like maintaining the drone and equipment and making sure that anyone who flies the aircraft has a current flyer ID. They’re usually the person or organization that owns the drone or model aircraft, but not always. For example, if you’re younger than 18 and you own a drone or model aircraft, you must ask your parent or guardian to register for an operator ID. You’ll still be able to fly as long as you have a flyer ID.
The operator must:
- make sure that only people with a valid flyer ID use their drone or model aircraft
- label their drones and model aircraft with their operator ID
You must be 18 or over to register for an operator ID. You can use the same operator ID for all your drones and model aircraft. If you’re responsible for drones or model aircraft ie as a business that owns them but has pilots to fly them you can register as an operator only.
- Operator ID £9 1 year
- Flyer ID £0 5 years
You need to register your organisation for an operator ID if it’s responsible for drones or model aircraft. Examples of organisations that may need to register to include businesses, schools, colleges, universities, voluntary organisations, clubs and charities that own but do not personally operate the equipment (if they also operate the equipment than a Flyer ID is required for each operator).
“It is against the law to use drones and model aircraft without the right registration. You can use the same operator ID to label all your drones and model aircraft”
Registration for an operator ID costs £9 and is valid for 1 year on the CAA website
Who can register your organisation?
The person who completes the registration must be authorised to be the accountable manager for drones and model aircraft in the organisation. The accountable manager will be responsible for making sure that the organisation flies and uses drones and model aircraft safely and legally. You can change the account manager if required to do so (change of role etc)
Before starting an application to register as an operator you will need:
- the accountable manager’s home address and contact details
- the organisation’s registered number, for example, its registered company number or charity number
- details of any insurance that is legally required
- a debit or credit card
You still need an operator ID even if you already have:
- an existing authorisation, permission or exemption from the Civil Aviation Authority (the permission that allows commercial operations is sometimes referred to as a PfCO)
- a flight permission from any other organisation, such as an airport
For help with registering as an organisation contact: Drone and Model Aircraft Registration Team: firstname.lastname@example.org Telephone: 0330 022 9930 Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 4:30pm