Drone registration is now mandatory in the UK for all drones over 250g and costs £9/yr

Nov 6, 2019

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Drone registration is now mandatory in the UK for all drones over 250g and costs £9/yr

Nov 6, 2019

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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As of yesterday, drone users in the UK will now have to take an online test and pay a £9 annual fee if they want to fly a drone weighing between 250g and 20kg. If you don’t, you could be facing a £1,000 fine. The new mandatory registration scheme comes in the wake of increased calls for drone regulation over fears of their misuse.

First announced back in 2017, the scheme is finally here. There are two registrations – one for the drone owner, and one for those who are flying it. If you own and fly your own drone, you’ll need both. Children who wish to fly drones are also required to take the test, too. And you’ll need to have it done by the end of this month.

The new requirements, brought by the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority, is to tie drones to their owners and be able to hold people accountable for their actions. Of course, those who are going to do illegal things with drones aren’t going to register and won’t be held accountable anyway, but I suppose they’re not bothered about that.

Two registrations are required. First up is the Flyer ID. This is the person who flies a drone. In order to get one, you need to pass an online theory test, and there is no cost for this. Both children and adults are required to pass this test in order to fly a drone weighing between 250g and 20kg. A parent or guardian must register children under 13 who will be flying the drone, although the child must take the test themselves.

One is for an Operator ID. This is the registration that the drone owner is required to submit and the person ultimately responsible for how the drone is used. This registration is only available to drone owners 18 and over and costs £9 per year. The Operator is responsible for making sure that only people with a valid Flyer ID are allowed to use their drone. They must label all of their drones and other model aircraft with their Operator ID.

If you own and fly your own drone (and are over 18), you are required to register both an Operator ID and a Flyer ID. If you only fly drones you do not own, you will only need a Flyer ID, which is free. If you own a drone you do not fly – perhaps as the parent of a child who owns a drone – you will need to register as a non-flying operator (also £9).

Several reports say that you have to “register the drone”, but from what I’m reading on the CAA website, you only have to register the owner. And the wording on the CAA website specifically says “They must label their drones and model aircraft with their operator ID.” suggesting that one owner registration covers multiple drones.

Now you see why the new DJI Mavic Mini weighs only 249g. It will require no registration for the owner or pilot in the new system, and similar requirements in the USA. The slightly larger DJI Mavic Air, though, would, coming in at 430g.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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6 responses to “Drone registration is now mandatory in the UK for all drones over 250g and costs £9/yr”

  1. Jolyon Ralph Avatar
    Jolyon Ralph

    I’ll buy a Mavic Mini and save the £9 a year on registration costs. That way I’ll break even in only 45 years :)

  2. Philip La Lumiere Avatar
    Philip La Lumiere

    UK government: drones 250g and up must be registered

    DJI: here’s a drone that’s 249g ?

    1. Stefan Rathmann Avatar
      Stefan Rathmann

      Government: Okay, than we change the law to 200gr

    2. Philip La Lumiere Avatar
      Philip La Lumiere

      DJI one day later: 199.9 grams ?

    3. Jolyon Ralph Avatar
      Jolyon Ralph

      Reminds me of something else, the limit for lithium batteries in devices taken on airplanes is 100Wh, I have a USB charging block that’s rated at 99Wh.

  3. Richard Joseph Avatar
    Richard Joseph

    Even drones that weigh less than 250g could damage and airplane and cause accidents.