Latest Drone Laws in London

Intro

Ruling the buzzing skyline of London, during the day or night, is an exciting prospect for drone pilots. I have had the pleasure of aerial photography in this cosmopolitan city.

Since the rules in London are quite strict like Australia, tons of people have asked me about the rules of drone flying here.

Below is an account of the latest drone laws in London that will be useful for pilots.

Overview of Drone Regulations

The UK Civil Aviation Authority is responsible for formulating the laws regarding drone flying in the city.

Their
website is very detailed and extremely informative for those who want to understand every aspect of the laws.

Here is a quick overview of the drone laws in London:

  1. All drone flyers must possess a flyer ID.

  2. All drone operators must possess an operator ID.

  3. Toy drones/ drones weighing less than 250 grams/ without cameras do not need registration.

  4. Insurance is optional for drones weighing less than 20 kg and flown for recreational purposes. 

Flying Categories in London

There are three types of flying categories: Open, Specific, and Certified.

Open Category: This is for recreational flying and does not need any special permissions from the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) except registration.

Specific Category: Commercial as well as hobbyist flying which involves a greater level of risk belongs to this category.

According to London drone regulations operational authorization is required before you’re operating in this category.

Certified: This covers the flight that poses an equal amount of risk as manned aviation. Such flights are thus subject to similar regulatory regimes.

The drone laws London for this category are still in the development stage and have not been published yet.

Drone Registration London

Registering your drone is mandatory in London. The only exception to the rule is that your drone is a toy, weighs <250 grams, or does not have a camera. 

According to London drone legal requirements toy drones are drones that:

–   Are described as toys by the manufacturer

–   Purchased from a toy store

–   Marked as suitable for children aged below 14 years

–   Advertised or packaged to attract children. 

For drones that do not fall under this category, there is a registration process for drone flight regulations London. 

The drone is required to be registered by the drone operator, i.e. the person who owns the drone. Both individuals and organizations can register as an operator.

The registration process is online and is fairly straightforward. A valid email address is required to complete the process. The operator registration fee is £11.13 and it is valid for a period of one year. 

Operator registration is a legal procedure to register all drones. It does not allow the person to fly. To fly a drone, you must possess a flyer ID. 

Below are the steps to get a flyer ID in London:

  1. Take a free theory test consisting of 40 multiple-choice questions. You need a score of 30 to pass the test.

To prepare for the test you need to be familiar with The Drone and Model Aircraft Code. The test can be taken any number of times.

  1. Children under 13 years of age are also eligible for a flyer ID. However, they must be accompanied by an adult during the registration process.

  2. Once the test is done the applicant is required to fill a simple online form. A flyer ID is free of cost and valid for 5 years.

Registering as an Organization

It is also possible to register as an organization with the London Aviation Authority if you are flying your drone commercially.

Businesses, schools, charities, clubs, voluntary organizations, colleges, etc. are some examples of organizations according to the UK Civil Aviation website.

The drone registration process London that is meant for organizations is done by the person who is authorized to be accountable for the drones.

It says that a person will be held responsible for ensuring that the drones are flown responsibly and under the legal provisions.

To register, the accountable person’s name, address, and contact details are required.

The organization’s name and registered number are also needed. The drone registration fees London for organizations is also £11.13 and it is valid for 1 year.

Restricted Areas and No-Fly Zones

When flying drones in London, pilots must follow the legal height limits, maintain distances from people, and avoid restricted areas. 

The following are the guidelines and No-fly zones London that drone flyers are required to adhere to:

  1. Drones must be flown below 120m (400ft). even when flying at this height, the flyer must watch out for aircraft such as police helicopters, air ambulances, etc., to maintain safety.

  2. The distance of 120m must be kept in mind when flying near cliffs or mountains.

  3. A minimum horizontal distance of 50m must be kept when flying near people. This is applicable to people in buildings as well as transport.

  4. The above rule ceases to apply if you are flying with friends or people who are involved in the activity.

  5. Drones weighing less than 250 grams do not need to maintain a minimum distance of 50 m from other people. However, they are restricted from flying above crowds.

  6. To fly drones weighing between 250-500 grams closer than 50m to other people you must possess the A2 Certificate of Competency (A2 CofC).

  7. Flying over gathered crowds at rallies, music festivals, sports events, shopping areas etc., is strictly prohibited.

  8. Drone restrictions London also stipulate a minimum distance of 150m to be maintained from recreational, residential, commercial, and industrial sites.

  9. Flights may be restricted at some Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), near prisons, monuments, military ranges, royal palaces, and government buildings.

  10. There are some airport and airspace restrictions as well. You can see the map provided by the UK Civil Aviation Authority here.

    Flying in the airport’s restricted zone, i.e. within a 5 km radius is prohibited.  

To ensure that you are not flying in a restricted zone, always look out for signs before flying. 

You can also use drone apps like Drone Assist and Dronescene. Both provide easy-to-use interactive maps where you can get airspace flying details and avoid London drone penalties.

Penalties for Violating Drone Laws

All drone pilots are expected to possess valid documents and adhere to the drone laws when flying outdoors in London. The police are entitled to take enforcement action when these rules are violated.

The penalties and fines may be enforced against the flyer, operator, or both. These penalties range from warnings and drone confiscation to imprisonment for serious offenses.

Flying in the no-fly zone around prisons will cost you a hefty fee of up to £2,500. If you are caught smuggling or illegally filming in this area then expect an imprisonment term up to 10 years as well!

To stay up to date with the latest drone legislation London and safety information you can follow the government website at skywise.com.

Simply sign up for the drone law updates London here and receive all the latest information about London drone legislation changes in your inbox regularly.

Conclusion

The vibrant city of London is a fun place to fly your drone. Just respect the drone operation rules London and stay away from restricted areas to enjoy a great flying experience. Wish you a pleasant flight in the London skies!

FAQ

Yes. It is mandatory for the drone operator to register their drone with the UK Civil Aviation Authority.

Yes. There are several restricted drone areas London and no-fly zones. Refer to a drone app to learn about these areas.

The penalties for drone rule violations include warnings, fines, drone confiscation, and even imprisonment. It is always better to maintain drone law compliance London.

It is strictly prohibited to fly in the restricted airspace (5km radius) near airports and airstrips.

Yes. Commercial drones also need to be registered before flying in London. They are flown under the Specific Category.

Author
Diptesh Das

Diptesh Das is your friendly ‘content maniac’ and drone enthusiastic! Being passionate about content writing. He is a firm believer of the power of words and thereby ended up leveraging them to create an impact by sharing his drone knowledge and experiences.

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