Drone and model aircraft registration

What is it?

The Air Navigation Order 2016 was amended in 2018 to set out the new policy requiring the Operators (owners) of drones (normally multirotors with a camera) and model aircraft to register and for anyone wanting to fly these aircraft to have to pass a basis knowledge exam to prove competency to fly.  These new regulations come into effect from the end of November 2019 and the registration system has gone live today 5th November.

What do you need to do?

Despite this new scheme being widely referred to as Drone Registration you do not, in fact, register drones. It is the Operator/Flyer who is registered. These are the basics of what the new regulations require: –

  1. If you own any drones or model aircraft weighing over 250g you will need to register online as an operator. The registration fee is £9.00 per year. Once you have registered you will receive an Operator ID.
  2. Any drones or model aircraft you own must have your Operator ID clearly displayed on the model. Details for labelling can be found here.
  3. If you also fly drones and/or model aircraft you have to pass an online competency test. This test is 20 questions and to pass you must answer 16 of these questions correctly. Once you have passed the online test you will be issued with a Flyer ID which remains valid for 3 years.
  4. If you are an Operator you are legally responsible for ensuring that anyone flying your drones or model aircraft has a Flyer ID

The Operator and Flyer Registration website has full details https://register-drones.caa.co.uk/

What if I already have a PfCO?

If you already have a CAA Permission for Commercial Operations (PfCO) you are exempt from taking the online competency test. You should carry a copy of the CAA exemption as well as a copy of your PfCO. HOWEVER, if you want to fly any drone or model aircraft recreationally then you will have to take the competency test and have a Flyer ID because the exemption only applied if you are acting as Remote Pilot under the terms of the PfCO.

As a PfCO holder you MUST register as an Operator and all your drones should be marked with your Operator ID.

What if I am a member of a flying assocation like the BMFA

Agreements have been reached between the CAA and the organisations listed below whereby these organisation will take care of the registration as an Operator on your behalf (by collecting the fee from you). For those organisations running a competency/achievement scheme if you have reached a specified competency level and hold the appropriate certificate you are exempt from having to take the online competency test. The details for each of these organisations differ, so if you are a member you must check directly with that organisation, using the links below, to find out how they are implementing this.

What if I don’t register or take the test

Unless you have exemptions as described above you will be breaking the law if you fly a drone or a model aircraft after 30th November 2019. It is very likely that any insurances you carry (especially public liability) will be invalidated, leaving you personaly responsible for any damages you might cause should you have an accident. You will also be subject to a fine of up to £1000 if you cannot product proof that you have properly registered as Opertor and/or Flyer.

Our Advice

Is just go ahead and register as an Operator and take the competency test even if you have an exemption or are a member of one of the organisation mentioned above. Registering costs just £9 and the test is easy.  You will then have the paperwork you need and will not need to worry about exemptions, opt-ins etc. Then get on with the rest of your life and enjoy your flying.