For anyone who is interested in flying drones in the UK you will be well aware that it is now a legal requirement to become a registered operator if you are responsible for a drone or unmanned aircraft (including model aircraft) weighing between 250g and 20kg.
I have flown my Parrot Bebop 2 for a long while recreationally and I was put off by the prospect of needing to register and pass a theory test to fly my drone. I just want to set out now to make things very clear for any recreational drone flyers who may be put off by the registration process. Its very easy and inexpensive. I read the drone and model aircraft code, passed the test and had my fee paid all before pouring my morning coffee. I already had a good understanding of the drone code but even without this, it is not a difficult test and it can be sat multiple times.
The reason I preface this blog with the above is because I was close to buying a new Mavic Mini as it weighs in at 249g which means you do not need to go through the registration process. After reading up on it and passing the test with ease I changed my mind and I have now ordered a Mavic Pro. Either of these drones would have been an upgrade from my Parrot Bebop 2 which I was keen to get a replacement for.
So for anyone wanting to fly a drone or model aircraft that’s 250g to 20kg they will need to pass a theory test to get a flyer ID. All of the info to pass the test is in the Drone and Model Aircraft Code which the registration process takes you through.
The person that’s responsible for the drone must also register to get an operator ID, this ID must be labelled on the drone itself. So if you own and fly a drone you will have a flyer ID and operator ID.
If you fly other peoples drones and you do not own a drone yourself you will only need a flyer ID. The flyer ID does not cost anything to obtain, the operator ID is £9 annually. So, as a bit of an overview:
- Must pass a 20 question multiple choice theory test to obtain
- Free of charge and 3 lasts years
- No age requirement but children under 13 can only register with a parent or guardian present
- Fee of £9 per year, so an annual registration is required
- You must be aged 18 or over to be an operator
- You must display your operator ID on your drone / drones, you can use the same ID for all your drones ( I knew that dusty office label printer would come in handy one day!)
- UK registration is not valid outside the UK
Operators will have certain responsibilities for managing the associated risks from the drone, most of these are very common sense. It is worth reading up on these responsibilities on the CAA website for any drone owners out there.
I don’t want to make this blog long and detailed about the technical do’s and don’ts of flying drones. My main point is this, if the drone registration is putting you off buying a drone for recreational use, don’t let it. The test is easy and the whole process is clear and quick. Well done to the CAA. £9 per year for drone owners is not the end of the world if you are spending £350 – £1000 on a drone.
If you are a beginner, maybe the Mavic Mini might be the way forward. If you are using this drone you will still need to follow the drone code but wont need to go through the registration process. However, if you buy a Mini and then stack on any attachments which add weight, this will mean you will need to register so that is something to consider.
If you would like to see the types of videos that I capture using my drone, check out some of my drone videos below!