European drone laws

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You want to go drone flying in Europe. This falls under European drone laws. In this blog, we explain to you the most important European drone rules so you can fly your drone safely in the EU.

Where are you allowed to fly a drone in Europe?

Before your drone flight, it is important to check which airspace you will be flying in. European airspace is divided into different zones. A zone in a drone map without coloured markings is open airspace. In open airspace, you can fly your drone freely, provided you follow the European drone laws.

You can check which airspace you want to fly in by using a drone map. Each European country has its own drone map. An overview of the European drone maps can be found on our website.

What are the Europe drone laws?

The requirements for the drone pilot in the European Union:

  • Must hold an EU drone license when fly a drone above 249 grams
  • Must be in possession of a drone operator number*

* Exception for toy drones.

EU Drone law requirements to the drone flight:

  • The drone must be flown in direct view of the pilot
  • The drone may fly a maximum height of 120 metres
  • Flying is not allowed in (temporary) no-fly zones
  • Keep distance from airports, military areas and sensitive areas
  • Respect everyone's privacy

Fly your drone according to EU drone laws

Do I need an EU Drone License?

According to the European drone laws you are required an EU drone license when your drone weighs more than 249 grams. The EU drone license consists of two certificates: A basic certificate and an additional certificate. The basic certificate A1/A3 is mandatory for drones weighing 250 grams or more. The additional certificate A2 allows you to fly drones in built environment (villages, cities).

The two certificates are further explained below:

Basic certificate A1/A3

  • Mandatory for drones, without Cx-label, from 250 grams up to 25 kilo
  • Mandatory for drones with a C1, C2, C3 or C4 label
  • C1 and C2 drones can be flown in residential areas
  • C3/C4 drones have to maintain 150 meters distance from built environment

In some countries, like Germany and France, there is national legislation that restricts drone flights over buildings and even in villages/cities.

Additional certificate A2

  • Applicable for drones in 2023, without a C2 label, from 500 grams to 2 kilo
  • Applicable for drones with a C2 label
  • You are allowed to fly your drone above buildings and close to people
  • You are not allowed to fly over people

Would you like to know which certificate you need for your drone? Use this selection guide to determine which certificate you need.

How do I register myself as a drone operator?

To comply with European drone laws, you may need a drone operator number. You can apply to a national aviation authority. If you are a resident of a European country, you have to apply for the drone operator number in your country of residence.

If you are not a resident of a European country, then you must apply for the drone operator number in the first EU country of your visit. The drone operator number is valid throughout the EU, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland.

Sem van Geffen

Co-owner Drone Class B.V.

About the author

Sem is an experienced trainer/developer, with drones as his main interest. He holds the Dutch RPA-L license and the EASA STS theory certificate. His specialism is EU aviation law and he enjoys flying the DJI Mavic 3 Enterprise.

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