What is drone registration?
Have you heard of it? Do you care? Should you care about it? Does it even apply to you?
On the 5th of November 2019, the much anticipated (not always for the right reasons) UK drone registration became a thing.
The long and the short of it is that, if you fly drones (or model aircraft), in the UK, you had until the 30th of November 2019 to register.
After that time, you could be breaking the law.
Amazingly, almost a year later some commercial operators are finding themselves in trouble when they come to renew because they did not register in time.
It’s not quite that straightforward, of course and there are some caveats, subtleties and nuances to this that have been causing some confusion.
We are going to try to clear those up for you.
Who has to register?
All drone operators in the UK had until the 30th of November 2019 to register with the CAA and get their operator ids.
Part of this proved very controversial amongst commercial pilots and operators (such as ourselves) who are already ‘registered’ with the CAA. We have already proved (in theory and in practice) our knowledge and competence on drones*
We already pay the CAA every year for the privilege of being allowed to fly them, so why should we have to register again and pay another fee?
Who or what is a drone operator?
If you fly a drone for fun, then you are a drone operator. That means you have to register and get an operator id.
The only exception to that (currently) is if the drone(s) that you fly are all under 250g in weight (oh hello there recently launched 249g Mavic mini).
The link to register as an individual operator is: https://register-drones.caa.co.uk/individual
If you are an organisation that flies drones, for whatever reason, then you are a drone operator. Examples of organisations from the CAA’s website:
- businesses (that will be us then)
- voluntary organisations
An operator only needs one operator id, no matter how many drones are flown by them. For example, we currently fly 3 drones, all are registered using our operator id.
The link to register as an organisation is: https://register-drones.caa.co.uk/organisation/register
What is a flyer id?
A flyer id is an individual id that you get after taking a 20 question, multiple choice test. You can take the test as many times as you like until you get enough questions right. So there really shouldn’t be any excuse for not passing.
Do I need a flyer id?
Anyone flying a drone needs a flyer id. Even children under 13 (although a parent needs to register on their behalf here).
The only exemption to this (that we are aware of at the time of writing) are commercial pilots flying under a PfCO. Whether it’s their own PfCO or that of their employer. The reason for that is that we have already proved our knowledge and competency to fly (right?) so we don’t need to do it again.
There is a special form to download and keep with your Ops manual ORS4 1327 that proves this exemption. Download it here.
I’ve got my ID’s can I fly commercially now?
Nope. You still need a PfCO to fly a drone commercially in the UK. Getting an operator id and a flyer id and passing a 20 question multiple choice quiz do not mean you can fly your drone commercially.
For more on that, go here.
Why has it been so controversial?
Reportedly, the database to handle the registrations cost several million pounds to develop.
As we have indicated above, all drone operators are meant to register. However, the only operators that the CAA already has the details of are commercial operators.
Hobbyists, those who fly drones (and model aircraft) for fun are largely not known to the CAA. Therefore getting them to register is going to be problematic.
Having recently done a drones for schools presentation to a local primary school, it strikes us that most of the people who really should be registering, have no idea that drone registration is a requirement of any kind.
Ironically it also seems that, thanks to the current political turmoil in the UK, the legislation to give the police powers to enforce this, has yet to make it through parliament.
Hopefully, this article has helped to demystify the whole thing a bit, provide the links to the info you need (if you need to register) and, given you something to read, if nothing else.