Drone Regulations – United Kingdom

Welcome to the Drone Photography Bible guide to drone regulation in the United Kingdom. This page aims to be a drone regulation united kingdom quick reference guide.

Be aware, whilst we do our best to keep this page up to date, drone regulation is changing. For up to date United Kingdom drone regulation, please consult official sources.

UK drone regulations

From mountains to rivers, market towns to field, coastline to villages, the United Kingdom has a multitude of locations that look amazing from above.

To ensure you fly your drone safely, responsibly and within the rules of the law, we have listed out the drone regulations in the United Kingdom for you to follow.

UK drone regulation – quick guide

Locals as well as tourists are allowed to fly drones so long as they keep within the regulations set out by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Along with National Air Traffic Services (NATS), the CAA have put together the Drone Safe website. Drone Safe outlines the Drone code as the rules to follow.

The Drone Code states:

  • Your drone must weight under 20kg
  • Do not fly above 120m/400ft although some locations limit your altitude to 60m/200ft,
  • Always fly within line of sight and maintain a visual line of sight,
  • Do not fly more than 500m/1640ft horizontally away from you,
  • Do not fly in dangerous or restricted areas,
  • Do not fly over crowds or urban areas
  • Stay away from airports, airfields, heliports and other aircraft.
  • Keep 50m/150ft away from people and property,
  • Keep 150m/500ft away from crowds and built up areas, and
  • If you intend to record in an area where people are, you must inform them before you start.

Hobbyist vs Commercial drone regulations in the UK

The United Kingdom distinguishes between hobbyist and commercial drone pilots. If you want to commercialise your drone work in any way, you need to apply for a commercial application. Commercial drone pilots are able to fly in otherwise restricted areas if the apply for, and are granted, permission to do so by the CAA.

Annual fee for UK drone owners

From 30 November 2019, drone owners in the UK will have to register their drones and pay an annual fee. Anyone who fails to register or sit the competency tests could face fines of up to £1000.
Under the new requirements:

  • You’ll need to pass an online test if you want to fly outdoors. The test will be free and you’ll need to pass it every three years.
  • You’ll also need to register as an operator if you’re responsible for a drone or model aircraft. You must be aged 18 or over to be an operator. There will be an annual fee, which will be confirmed before the regulations come into force.
  • All drones and model aircraft will need to be labelled with the operator’s unique ID number.

Click this link to go to the CAA’s drone registration page. Here you can take the test, get your drone registered and pay the registration fee.

Currently, you can find more information on gov.uk as well as Drone Safe.

Can non-UK drone operators use their drone commercially in the UK?

Short answer, yes. If you are a drone pilot from outside the United Kingdom and want to carry out work in the U.K. (e.g. you want to record footage on your drone for commercial purposes in the UK), the CAA can grant permissions to foreign operators. These permissions are granted on the basis that you are able to satisfy the same basic safety requirements that are required for UK-based operators.

It is worth nothing that existing drone approvals and drone qualifications you may have from other countries are not automatically accepted.

For more information, the CAA can be contacted on infoservices@caa.co.uk. or +44 0330 022 1500.

Locations that ban drone flights in the UK

The United Kingdom has strict rules on where you can and cannot fly your drone. These can be found on the apps in the section below. As a quick reference guide, the follow list outlines places that flying drones is banned:

  • State institutes, buildings or land,
  • Federal authority constructions, property or land,
  • Regional authority constructions, property or land,
  • Airport control zones (CTR),
  • Hospitals, and
  • Operation sites – ie, places current in use by police, military, search- and rescue forces.

Drone Regulation UK – Useful apps

Before you take off, check the information on the links and apps below for up to date guidance on UK drone regulations.

NATS Drone AssistApp Store & Google Play

Powered by Altitude Angel, NATS Drone Assist provides location-based information on areas of airspace to avoid or in which extreme caution should be exercised, as well as on ground hazards that may pose safety, security or privacy risks.

Altitude Angel: Guardian AppApp Store & Google Play

Guardian is a companion application for Altitude Angel users offering quick and easy access to essential drone safety data while on the move.

Using your location, Guardian supplements your normal due-diligence activities by displaying no-fly zones and ground hazards for a growing number of countries around the world, completely free of charge.

Altitude Angel: Drone Safety Map

Drone Safety Map spans over 40 countries, providing accurate, real-time online updates to aeronautical and ground hazards; helping you to plan and conduct your drone flights more safely. It’s perfect if you’re planning your flight ahead of time, or if you want to research an area before your flight.

AIRMAP for Drones App Store & Google Play

Get real-time feedback of airspace rules and conditions pertaining to your flight specifications, with national rulesets for 20 countries, including Canada, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and the United States.


We hope you found our drone regulations United Kingdom reference guide useful!

Noticed drone regulations that we are missing? Have we made a mistake with some drone regulation that we have mentioned? Please email us at regulation@dronephotographybible.com and let us know.

Drone regulations in the UK – All information in this article is correct at the time it was published. Please always check local drone regulations before you fly. The information here is meant only as guidance and should not be taken as fact.