The registration deadline has now passed for drone pilots in the UK. As of November 30th, the CAA’s registration and education scheme is mandatory.
The new rules apply to drones and model aircraft that weigh between 250g and 20kg and are used outdoors. Drone owners must visit Register-drones.caa.co.uk to register their aircraft.
Registering your drone in the UK
There are two aspects of the registration scheme.
The first is the registration part. If you are responsible for a drone that fits the criteria above, you’ll need to register as an operator.
After registering, you’ll receive operator ID along with a certificate of registration. This ID has to be displayed on your drone(s) in such a way that it’s:
- Visible without needing a special tool to remove or open part of your aircraft;
- Clear and in block capitals taller than 3mm;
- Secure and safe from damage;
- On the main body of the aircraft;
- Easy to read when the aircraft is on the ground.
Your operator ID must be marked on all of your aircraft. The cost of registration is £9 per year.
The second element of the registration will also apply to the vast majority of drone owners. It concerns education. The new rules mean that anyone flying a drone in the weight category mentioned above will need to take and pass an online education test.
Upon passing the test, you’ll receive a Flyer ID.
How hard is the online theory test?
Not very. It covers all the basics of flying safely and legally. The test is multiple choice. There are twenty questions relating to the new Drone and Model Aircraft Code. You need 16 marks to pass, so it’s best to prepare for the test before you take it.
Passing the test will unlock your Flyer ID, which effectively proves your competency in the CAA’s eyes.
Struggling to pass? Don’t worry, you can take the test as many times as you like.
The up to date Drone Code is available here.
Flyer ID and Operator ID: A Recap
The CAA’s new jargon might be a little confusing for pilots in the UK. So below is a quick overview of exactly what’s meant by ‘Flyer’ and ‘Operator’.
Your Flyer ID is:
- Required by the person who is flying the drone or model aircraft.
- Only received after passing the online theory test.
- Not imprinted onto your aircraft.
- Valid for 3 years.
- Needed by pilots of any age. A parent or guardian must register children under 13, but the child must take the test.
Your Operator ID is:
- Given to the person responsible for the drone or model aircraft.
- Required to be visible on the drones and model aircraft.
- Only given to those aged 18 or over who have registered with the CAA.
- Costs £9 annually.
What happens if I fly without being registered?
Pilots who fail to register or don’t pass the online competency tests face hefty fines of up to £1,000. If you haven’t already, get the process started by visiting Register-drones.caa.co.uk.
Read more: DJI Responds to UK Registration Rules
Exemptions to the UK’s drone registration scheme
The new registration scheme is essentially for hobbyist pilots and those who haven’t previously had any dealings with the CAA or other industry bodies.
As part of the rollout, the CAA is taking into account the experience of existing pilots by making a series of exemptions:
- Holders of current CAA permissions or exemptions for drone operations are exempt from sitting the online safety test. The same goes for model flyers holding an achievement certificate issued by a UK model aircraft association.
- Members of a range of industry groups, including ARPAS-UK, the British Model Flying Association (BMFA), Scottish Aeromodellers’ Association (SAA), Large Model Association (LMA) and FPV-UK do not need to register with the CAA’s new scheme.