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.