Legal disclaimer: (The contents of this page is not legal advice and is my interpretation of the EU drone regulations for the open category. Please refer to the appropriate regulations/laws in your region. The drone regulations could be significantly different outside EU.)
The new European Drone Regulations came into force as of December 31, 2020. These were laid out by European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and cover operation of Civil drones.
What is a drone? Is my RC model aircraft a drone?
A drone is any aircraft not carrying the human pilot on board I.e. Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS). It is usually remotely controlled or may be even flying on it’s own (computer controlled). All RC model aircraft (airplanes, gliders, helicopters, quadcopters, etc) qualify as drones and can come under the new drone regulations.
Do I have to register my drone / RC model aircraft?
In EU, you don’t have to register your drones but you have to register yourself as a drone pilot.
You do not need to register if any of the below is true for your drone(s):
- weighs less than 250g and has no camera or other sensor able to detect personal data.
- weighs less than 250g with or without camera, but is a toy (its documentation says that it complies with ‘toy’ Directive 2009/48/EC).
- is being flown indoors
- is being flown at an RC field, in which case you need to check with your RC field manager.
For all other cases you have to register as a drone pilot by passing an online theory test before you can fly your drone.
Is there a minimum age limit? Can my kids fly a drone?
If the drone is privately built and weighs less than 250g, there is no minimum age limit. For anything heavier than 250g, the drone pilot must be at least 16 years old. EU member states can reduce the age to 12. So check you EU member state specific rules.
How do I register myself as a pilot?
You need to register in the country you live in. Check your EU member state specific information from https://www.easa.europa.eu/domains/civil-drones/naa
You will have to go through some reading material, pay a fee and take an online test. Once you pass the test you will be given a proof of competency certificate. Only then you can fly the category of drones mentioned on the certificate. You must always carry the certificate with you during your drone flights.
You will receive a ‘drone operator registration number’ that needs to be displayed with a sticker on all the drones you own, including those privately built. You must also, upload it into the ‘Drone’s remote identification system’ if it has one.
Where do I get further information?
For detailed information please visit https://www.easa.europa.eu/domains/civil-drones-rpas and your EU member state specific website https://www.easa.europa.eu/domains/civil-drones/naa