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Drone owner? You must register by the end of Friday

About 130,000 drone owners have until 11.59pm on Friday (29 November) to register with the aviation regulator – and those who don't risk a fine of up to £1,000 if their drone is flown outdoors.

Under new rules which come into effect from Saturday, most people who own or are responsible for a drone or unmanned aircraft must register as an operator, as long as it weighs between 250g and 25kg. It costs £9 to register as an operator and you'll need to do this each year.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) estimates that around 130,000 people will need to register their drones to avoid a fine.

Who do the new rules apply to?

The new regulations apply to many who own or fly drones or unmanned aircraft (such as a model plane with a motor) weighing between 250g and 25kg. You'll be required to register unless either of the following apply:

  • The drone or unmanned aircraft won't be flown, or will only be flown indoors or in a "securely netted area".

  • You're a member of the British Model Flying Association, Scottish Aeromodellers' Association, Large Model Association or FPV UK. Members of these are exempted because the associations will register them as they renew their membership.

I own or fly a drone or unmanned aircraft – what do I need to do?

If you're affected by the rules, here's what you need to do:

  • If you own a drone or unmanned aircraft which meets the requirements above, you must get an operator ID. After getting this ID, you must make sure only people with a valid flyer ID use your aircraft. Only those over the age of 18 can register for an operator ID. You can register as an operator on the CAA drone website – it costs £9. 

  • If you're responsible for drones or model aircraft, but won't fly them, you'll need to register as a non-flying operator, which also costs £9.

  • Anyone who will fly the drone must get a flyer ID. To get this you must pass a free theory test with 20 multiple-choice questions. The rules apply to adults and children. A parent or guardian must register children aged under 13, but the child must take the test. Again you can do this on the CAA drone website.

You get both registration and test proof by email immediately once you've done it online – so after completion you're allowed to use your drone straightaway.

If you're responsible for a drone or model aircraft, you must label it with your operator ID.

The CAA's new system will also be used to help return errant drones to their owners. Anyone who loses a drone is advised to post their details on the 'Drones Reunited' platform, while anyone who finds one is encouraged to check if it has a registration number and enter the details online.

What if I miss the deadline?

If you miss the Friday deadline, don't panic – you can still register and apply for a flyer ID afterwards. However, if your drone or unmanned aircraft is flown on or after Saturday 30 November and you haven't registered as required, you do risk a fine. 

How will the fines work?

A fine of £1,000 can be levied if someone is found guilty of not complying with the rules outlined above. The maximum fine is £1,000 – every time you're found guilty.

The police will enforce the fines and would work to bring any prosecution – there are no current plans to issue on-the-spot fines.

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