• Neil

Drone Registration - 5 Frequently Asked Questions

The Deadline For Registration Becoming Mandatory Is Almost Upon Us - Make Sure You're Ready

Fellow drone pilots! If you're a drone owner in the UK, then you should be aware that you need to register with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in order to comply with the new Drone Bill and aviation laws relating to drones and model aircraft.

Drone footage has become part and parcel of any walks I do and post on the site (check out some of our Walks & Hikes for a few examples) and have always fell in line with any rules and regs to the point where I'm actually really self-conscious about launching it, regardless of how remote the location is. In keeping with that I've registered and now have the IDs to keep me within the law. To get started, go here: CAA Drone Registration

No doubt you might have questions regarding it all, so below are the answers to five of the most commonly asked.

1. Why?

Various reasons. If you own a drone and have been using it then you should already be abiding by the Drone Code which sets out various rules to ensure you're flying your drone safely and not doing anything silly like, I don't know...flying over Gatwick Airport for example.

Drone ownership has increased significantly over the past few years, and this new legislation is somehow intended to make sure that everyone who owns one, knows what they're doing and abide by the code, how? I don't know. It is still quite sketchy and currently seems to be a money making exercise rather than tough regulation. With drones so widely available to consumers now, you will always get bad eggs trying to spoil it for the rest of us, but I also think this could catch out those new to the hobby trying to wrap their heads around the rules and regulations.

It is what it is though, and it is better to be safe in the knowledge you've got your IDs rather than get stopped by the police and asked to produce evidence that you haven't got. Not that I expect there to be a dedicated 'Drone Police' unit deployed to every public space any time soon. And if everyone is doing everything by the book, there'll be no need for that anyway right?

If you do fly a drone, know the drone code. Image from Drone Safe UK
If you do fly a drone, know the drone code. Image from Drone Safe UK

(Image source: Drone Safe UK)

2. Who Does This Apply To?

If your drone weights 250g or more then you need to register. If you've managed to get your hands on the new DJI Mavic Mini then you lucky pups don't have to register as it falls below the weight threshold (but you should still be abiding by the drone code).

If you're registered with one of the following associations, then you are exempt from registering. These associations are:

  • The UK Drone Association (Arpas UK)

  • British Model Flying Association

  • Scottish Aeromodellers' Association

  • Large Model Association

  • FPV UK

If you have a Permission for Commercial Operation (PfCO) anyone listed as the Operator within your operations manual will need to register as the operator, and all listed pilots within the operations manual will need to register to get their Flyer IDs.

If you own or fly a drone, make sure you have the right IDs
If you own or fly a drone, make sure you have the right IDs

3. What Does Registration Involve?

Owners or those responsible for a drone must register for an Operator ID. Those who are going to fly the drone must register for a Flyer ID and take an online theory test.

You'll start by providing an email address to which a verification code gets sent, pop that in and you then choose what you need in terms of IDs.

If you are going for a Flyer ID, you'll be ushered through to take the test which comprises of 20 multiple choice questions. If you're already familiar with the Drone Code then happy days you should sail through it (I passed first time - go me!), but even if you fail, you can take it as many times as you like until you get the magic pass number (16 out of 20), although maybe read up on the code a bit more yeah?

Have your wallet handy as you'll be paying the £9 registration fee (renewable annually) upon completion (this covers both Operator and Flyer IDs).

4. When Do I Have To Do It By?

You've got until the 30th November 2019 to do so. As of that date, it becomes a mandatory requirement for anyone new to, or currently operating/flying a drone to comply with. Failure to do so and continuing to fly can get you at least a £1,000 fine.

5. What Happens After Registering?

You'll get sent your registration details by the CAA via the email address you provided at the start. It is an idea to keep a print out of these in your carry case or whatever else you do to haul your drone and accessories, just on the very off chance you're asked to prove registration.

What you also need to do is stick your Operator ID on every drone you are responsible for. Those birds now need to have the ID number emblazoned on the drone where it is visible without having to remove any part of the drone and visible from a landed position. Bad news for anyone who has put a snazzy decal on their drone recently. I suspect modified versions of decals will be available soon that incorporates a designated space for these. For the specifics, the CAA have provided a page dedicated to labelling your drone. UPDATE 30/11/19 - The labelling procedure has now changed. The label can be within the battery compartment and no longer needs to be visible from a landed position. It was a ridiculous ruling anyway, so good to see that it has changed ahead of the legislation coming into play.

Other ways to make sure you're okay is to check the area where you want to fly a drone using the NATS app to see if someone else is planning to fly there or there's any aircraft activity scheduled there. Keep a look out for a review of some of our other favourite drone apps in the coming weeks.

Hopefully you find this helpful! It is a pretty straightforward process, and whilst I'm a little unconvinced at the reasoning behind it, if it does go some way to separating the wheat from the chaff in terms of those who do misuse drones then it makes the skies safer for the rest of us.

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