UK Drone Registration 2019: Your Guide To The Theory Test

  • UK drone users need to sit a theory test, as part of new UK registration scheme;
  • The free multiple-choice quiz has 20 questions. The pass mark is 16;
  • The test focuses on safety and how to fly legally;
  • You can refer to The Drone and Model Aircraft Code during the test and you sit it as many times as is required to pass;
  • The new laws relate to drones weighing between 250g and 20kg. But even if your aircraft is lighter, you need to fly sensibly and adhere to the Drone Code.
  • Find out about the UK drone registration fee, how to sticker your drone and which drones need to be registered.

Drone users in the UK must now pass an online theory test, as part of the new UK Drone and Model Aircraft Registration and Education Service. But don’t panic, because the quiz is not as scary as you might think.

The new regulations apply to drones and model aircraft from 250g to 20kg that are used outdoors.

The UK drone registration test went live earlier this week at Register-drones.caa.co.uk and it is free to sit. The test focuses on the basic requirements and operational procedures of taking to the skies and aims to ensure that you can fly legally and safely.

As a side note, while the test is online, the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) has said that people who don’t have access to the internet can either contact its licensing centre or use internet/PCs at a local library to complete the quiz.

When you do sit the test, you will find that it includes questions about how high you can fly, what to consider if you’re near an airport or want to cover a large-scale event, operating in certain weather conditions, and hot topics relating to privacy and insurance.

Here are two examples of the questions.

On the surface, the need to take a test is potentially either too daunting or too time-consuming for the average hobbyist.

But this common-sense multiple-choice exam, which puts safety at its heart, is not as arduous or complicated as you might think!

The recommended time to sit the exam is 20 minutes, but it can be completed much quicker.

While most of the answers are fairly obvious to anyone with a remote interest in flying a drone, the quiz is made easier and more accessible by the fact that you can refer to The Drone and Model Aircraft Code throughout.

This helpful and easy-to-follow guide opens in a separate window and provides more than enough information to help if you get stuck. A snippet of this guide is pictured below.

If you do struggle with the questions and don’t hit the 16 out of 20 pass mark, you can take the test as many times as you like.

When you do reach that magic number, you will receive the all-important Flyer ID, which is valid for three years.

For clarity, the Flyer ID relates to the person who flies the drone or model aircraft.

Children of all ages and adults who want to fly drones must sit the test. However, a parent or guardian must register children under 13.

Each child that needs a Flyer ID will need to take the test separately.

If a parent/guardian use the same email address for each child, your children’s registration details will be linked.

Operator ID And UK Drone Registration Fee

The Flyer ID is the first part of the new UK Drone and Model Aircraft Registration and Education Service.

The second part is obtaining an Operator ID. What does this mean and who does it apply to?

Well, anyone that owns or is responsible for a drone or model aircraft must register to get an Operator ID.

You must be 18 or over to register for an Operator ID and this costs £9 each year. Heliguy has offered to offset this cost for our customers for five years. Click here for more information.

Some examples of situations where you need an Operator ID:

  • You own a drone or model aircraft;
  • You’re the adult responsible for an under 18 who owns a drone or model aircraft;
  • You’re responsible for a drone or model aircraft that someone else will fly.

The operator is responsible for making sure that only people with a valid Flyer ID use their drone or model aircraft.

You must label your Operator ID on every drone or model aircraft you’re responsible for. It is against the law to fly a drone or model aircraft that does not show a valid Operator ID.

UK Drone Registration Scheme: Drone Stickers And How To Label Your Drone or Model Aircraft

Your Operator ID must be:

  • visible without needing a special tool to remove or open part of your aircraft
  • clear and in block capitals taller than 3mm
  • secure and safe from damage
  • on the main body of the aircraft
  • easy to read when the aircraft is on the ground
  • You should use a removable label as your operator ID may change when you renew. You’ll need to remove your label if you’re no longer responsible for the drone or model aircraft.

Always use your Operator ID, not your Flyer ID.

UK Drone Registration Scheme: Register As A Business Or Organisation

You can register your organisation for an Operator ID if it’s responsible for drones or model aircraft.

Examples of organisations that may need to register include: businesses, schools, colleges, universities, voluntary organisations, clubs and charities.

The person who registers must be authorised to be the accountable manager for drones and model aircraft in your organisation.

You must only allow people with a valid Flyer ID to fly your organisation’s drones or model aircraft.

For more details, click here.

A host of well-known construction firms have already signed up, including Balfour Beatty, Caterpillar, and Laing O’Rourke.

Do The Exemptions Apply To You?

Remote pilots flying in accordance with a permission, exemption or operational authorisation (e.g. such as the permission related to commercial operations as required in ANO article 94(5)) that has been issued to a named UAS operator by the CAA will be exempt from having to undertake the online education training and test.

Similarly, where a UK model aircraft association already has an established and CAA reviewed ‘competency scheme’, members who hold an appropriate achievement certificate or award (such as the BMFA ‘A’ certificate) will also be exempt from having to undertake the online education training and test.

Any operators who are not covered under the conditions of a permission/exemption or do not hold a recognised association competency will need to complete the free online course.

To allow operators to demonstrate competence if challenged (for example by the police) the CAA will be issuing a formal exemption that can be used alongside existing permissions/achievements and any other relevant documents.

This exemption will be in place until the 30th June 2020, when new regulations are expected. The CAA will be working with stakeholders in 2020 to put these into place.

Also, you will not need to register as an operator with the CAA system if you are a current member of the following associations:

  • ARPAS-UK
  • British Model Flying Association (BMFA)
  • Scottish Aeromodellers’ Association (SAA)
  • Large Model Association (LMA)
  • FPV UK

With permission, the associations will collect the registration fee from members directly and supply their data to the CAA. This will take place initially by the 31st January 2020 and an exemption from the need to register will be put in place by the 30th November to cover association members until then.

The associations will issue further detailed guidance to their members in due course.

Which DJI Drones Need To Be Registered In The UK?

Whether it is DJI, or other drones made by Skydio, Parrot or Yuneec, there are a long list of unmanned aircraft which now need to be registered in the UK.

Click here to read our in-depth guide about some of the most popular drones on the market which need to be registered.

UK Drone Registration: Reasons Why You Don’t Need To Register

You do not need to pass the test or register if your drone or model aircraft is less than 250g – like the DJI Mavic Mini for example – or you’ll only fly indoors or in a securely netted area.

The DJI Mavic Mini.

However, you must still follow the rules and regulations when you fly. This includes following the Drone Code, which states:

1: Always keep your drone in sight. This means you can see and avoid other things while flying.
2: It’s against the law to fly your drone over 400ft (120m). This reduces the likelihood of a conflict with manned aircraft.
3: Keep the right distance from people and property. People and properties – 150ft (50m); Crowds and built-up areas – 500ft (150m) and don’t overfly.
4: You are responsible for each flight. Legal responsibility lies with you. Failure to fly responsibly could result in criminal prosecution
5: Stay well away from aircraft, airports and airfields when flying any drone. It is illegal to fly them inside the airport’s flight restriction zone without permission. If your drone endangers the safety of an aircraft it is a criminal offence and you could go to prison for five years. Click here for more details about flight restriction zones and distances.

UK Drone Registration: Summary

First of all, it is important to stress that, other than the exemptions, it is against the law to fly without passing the test or registering your drone. Registration is mandatory from November 30, 2019.

The test is not as daunting as it might sound, and it essentially covers the basic safety and legal procedures to fly – which are important factors to know and understand.

Drones weighing between 250g and 20kg need to be registered, but regardless of how heavy your drone is, it is important to follow the Drone Code and fly in a responsible manner.

Whether the new drone laws will control and deter irresponsible pilots remains to be seen, but the change is here now and it is important that drone users adhere to the rules.

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