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Drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) are simply machines that are remotely controlled by a person on the ground. They originate from the military and were used in instances when it was too dangerous to send a manned aircraft.

However, flying drones is now a popular affordable hobby and a tool for business use.

Are drones legal in the UK?

Owning and using a drone is perfectly legal, but you must abide by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) guidance on using drones for both private and commercial use.

What are the rules for flying drones in the UK?

If you are flying your drone for personal use:

  • your drone must weigh under 20kg
  • you can’t fly above 400 feet in altitude or 500 metres from you horizontally
  • ensure your drone is always in sight
  • always keep away from aircraft, helicopters, airports and airfields
  • use your common sense and fly your aircraft safely. 

If your drone is fitted with a camera there are additional regulations:

  • you must not fly within 50 metres of people, vehicles, buildings or vessels
  • your drone must not be flown within 150 metres of a congested area or any large group of people such as a concert or sporting event as you may be prosecuted
  • if you intend to record in an area where people are, you must inform them before you start.

If you intend to use the drone for commercial purposes you must have permission from the CAA and comply with additional laws governing their use.

To get guidance on operating permissions for drones see the CAA’s website for the latest information and regulations regarding drone use.