Regulation of UAVs in the United Kingdom

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Records of Parliamentary debate relating to the statute from Hansard, at TheyWorkForYou

Regulation of UAVs in the United Kingdom prescribes the rules that operators of unmanned aerial vehicles must follow in the UK.


In August 2012, The UK's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) stated that it would require non-military drones larger than 20 kg to be able to automatically sense other aircraft and steer to avoid them.[1]

As of 2013, the CAA requires that UAV aircraft less than 20 kilograms in weight must be in direct visual contact with the pilot, cannot fly within 150 meters of a congested area or within 50 meters of a person or vehicle, and cannot be used for commercial activity.[1][2]

In July 2018, the CAA forbade flying above 400 feet (120 m) and flying within 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) of an airport or airfield boundary.[3]

Between 19 and 21 December 2018, flights were canceled at Gatwick Airport following reports of drone sightings close to the runway.


The Civil Aviation Authority created a "Drone code" which lists the following regulations, forming the acronym DRONE:

"Don’t fly near airports or airfields, Remember to stay below 400 feet (120 m), Observe your drone at all times – stay 150 feet (46 m) away from people and 500 feet (150 m) away from crowds and structures, Never fly near aircraft and Enjoy responsibly". Further:

  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions.[3]

On 20 February 2019, the Department for Transport announced legislation to extend the ‘no-fly’ zone around airports, banning drones from flying within 5 kilometers (3.1 mi) of runways.

Operators of drones and model aircraft must obtain an 'Operator' ID and 'Flyer ID' from the Civil Aviation Authority before using their drone, which are awarded together after passing an online theory test. Children under the age of 18 cannot obtain an Operator ID, though they can be registered as flyers of their parent or legal guardian's drone by passing the same theory test and receiving a Flyer ID.[4] After passing the theory test, all drones must display the owner's Operator ID when in operation. Flyer IDs must be renewed every three years, while Operator IDs must be renewed annually.[5]


  1. ^ a b Reed, Jim (29 August 2012). "The skies open up for large civilian drones". BBC News Technology. Retrieved 8 April 2013.
  2. ^ Sclesinger, Fay (16 March 2013) "Animal activists to use drones in fight against illegal hunting" The Times, p. 17; subscription required
  3. ^ a b "The Drone Code" (PDF). Retrieved 25 April 2019.
  4. ^ "Registering a drone or model aircraft | UK Civil Aviation Authority". Retrieved 16 November 2020.
  5. ^ "Take the drone and model aircraft test | UK Civil Aviation Authority". Retrieved 16 November 2020.

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