Laws for Flying Quadcopter or Drones in the UK

by Oscar

It’s important that you know and understand the local regulations about flying an unnamed aircraft. Remember when you fly a drone, the responsibility is yours. Be safe and be legal. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) prohibits the flying of drones over or within 150m of built-up areas.

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Unless CAA permission has been granted the pilot cannot:

  • Fly over or within 150m (492 ft) of a congested area
  • Fly over or within 150m (492 ft) of an organised open-air assembly of more than 1,000 persons
  • Fly within 50m (164 ft) of any vessel, vehicle or structure which is not under the control of the person in charge of the aircraft
  • Fly within 50m (164 ft) of any person

Currently, drones of under 20kg can be used within line of sight (LOS) of the operator and with relevant permission of the Civil Aviation Authority.

You are legally responsible for the safe conduct of each flight. Take time to understand the rules, failure to comply could lead to a criminal prosecution.

Before each flight check that your unmanned aircraft is not damaged, and that all components are working in accordance with the Supplier’s User Manual.

You must keep the unmanned aircraft within your sight at all times.

You are responsible for avoiding collisions with other people or objects – including aircraft. Do not fly your unmanned aircraft in any way that could endanger people or property

It is illegal to fly your unmanned aircraft over a congested area (streets, towns and cities). Also, stay well clear of airports and airfields

Don’t fly your unmanned aircraft within 50m of a person, vehicle, building or structure, or overhead groups of people at any height.

Think about what you do with any images you obtain as you may breach privacy laws. Details are available from the Information Commissioner’s Office.

If you intend to use an unmanned aircraft for any kind of commercial activity, you must get a ‘Permission’ from the Civil Aviation Authority, or you could face prosecution. For more
updated details, visit


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Arthur 4th January 2016 - 4:36 pm

Could I fly a drone around my village without a license or anything,when do I need a license

Winford Handelsman 22nd June 2015 - 10:15 pm

This is one awesome article post.Really looking forward to read more. Great.

mike dimelow 12th May 2015 - 9:42 pm

Hi hope you enjoy your quad as much as my son and i have for well over a year now, can i firstly remind you of some pitfalls, make sure you have yor craft set up well before park flying as i have seen quite some issues from multicopter users getting in real trouble from uncontrolable units not tested and setup correctly. Also there is a uk law about flying under 50 mtrs from anyone who is classed as public, i say this as it doesnt matter how well we plan these magic birds attract people who naturaly want to have a look and at times verry close, you can get in such a mess when you attract public. If its out there we have filmed it and in hd, allways remember if you film up close where you are able to identify any person you are in breach of coppyright and personal identification can cause issues with most privice laws, we allways have and try to obtain permission to fly over or near private land, if you think of safety and observe simple rules you should enjoy this hobby.

Martin Wood 23rd April 2015 - 9:13 pm

Cool, yeah I can’t imagine there would be any issues. If it’s not going above head height then it certainly can’t get over fences.
And to be fair I can’t imagine any of my neighbours would say anything about it anyway, but thought I’d look in to it to be sure :)
Pay day on Monday! Can’t wait to start building it :D

Oscar 24th April 2015 - 12:28 am

ha! stop reminding me :D I have so many items in my ebay wish list :P

Martin Wood 27th April 2015 - 7:28 pm

Haha. I suspect that will happen to me at some point.
I was wrong firstly, payday is tomorrow, so I’m sat at home now looking at my Hobbyking shopping cart knowing I can’t press ‘order’ yet :( haha
Ordering in phases. Basic build now so I get in the air. FPV is probably phase 2. Phase 3 will be upgrades etc. So already got quite a queue of parts in mind :P haha!

Oscar 28th April 2015 - 1:13 pm

Very sensible Sir!
it’s a good idea as you learn more about this hobby, you know better what you need and adjust the shopping list!
Having fun shopping, building and flying :) hope the postman doesn’t keep you waiting for too long!

Martin Wood 20th April 2015 - 11:28 pm

I assume it would be ok to fly within my own back garden?
I will be building my own quadcopter up in the coming months, and will need to fly it for short periods for test flights and gain tuning etc. It will be entirely within the confines of my own garden and will not be going above head height, so I assume this must be ok as it’s on my own private property?
Thanks :)

Oscar 21st April 2015 - 6:22 pm

I think that should be okay, as long as you use your common sense and dont attempt anything stupid you will have a very long happy flying experience ahead of you :D