How to get a UK drone license, when you need a license and how much it may cost.
Do I need a drone licence?
If you’re planning on using your drone strictly as a hobby, a drone licence is not required as long as you follow the CAA regulations.
If you’re planning on using your drone for profit or for business purposes, you will need to get a drone licence (or PfCO) from a CAA approved provider.
The ‘drone licence’ referred to by Heliguy is actually a known as PfCO (Permissions for Commercial Operations). Rather than a licence, UK permissions are granted by the CAA following your training and successful completion of your practical and theory tests, as well as your Operations Manual.
As far as the UK goes - it's a permission - NOT a license.
In order to get a drone license, you'll need to train with a National Qualified Entity (NQE). Heliguy are one of the leading NQE's in the UK, and can provide industry-leading training to secure your license.
How much does a UK Drone License Cost?
Heliguy pride themselves on being open and honest with their prices for your UK drone licence.
CAA Approved Drone Licence – Full three phase process including a three day Ground School, Flight Assessment and Operations Manual consultation.
£1079.00 (ex Tax £899.17)
Flight Assessment Resit
Free of Charge
Theory Test Resit
Free of Charge
Bespoke / Close Course
Priced on a cases by cases basis dependent on requirements
An interest free finance option is also available for your drone license.
There are no hidden costs to our PfCO Course - you will not be charged for extras at any point, unlike many other NQEs.
The CAA have discussed the possiblity of creating a drone registration program to ensure that each drone sold can be tied back to a named owner, similar the the vehicle registration system.
This may involve some kind of test to ensure that new drone pilots understand the current regulations.
However, if you want to buy a drone, there's nothing stopping you!
At present, there's no need to register the drone or hold a drone license to purchase a drone in the UK.
Do I need a license to fly a drone in the UK?
If you're a hobbyist - and you're flying for personal use, not for commercial purposes - then no!
This means that you can still have great fun with a drone without the need for a license.
As soon as your drone is being used commercially, you're being paid for your work, or your getting some other kind of reward, you need a CAA Drone License or PfCO in order to fly legally.
You'll also need insurance to protect yourself, your equipment, and other people or property.
Be a responsible operator and make sure you have the correct licence in place for the type of drone activity you're undertaking.
A 'Drone License' Wording Reminder
The CAA does not issues licences. There is no such thing as a 'Drone licence' in the UK.
You'll actually receive a Permission for Commercial Operations (or PfCO) after completing the necessary course.
However, as this isn't common knowledge. we've created this article on drone licences to educate and inform the public.
How do I get a drone license?
The three days of theory that gives students the understanding of equipment used, safe aircraft operations and a variety of aviation knowledge. A theory exam is completed at the end of this section.
The Operations Manual details the student’s operational procedures they are required to follow. Heliguy guide and mentor students throughout the completion of their manual.
This is a practical assessment where student’s skills are assessed in controlling the aircraft, testing in real-world scenarios and completing required checks and notifications for a commercial operation.
The fact that you're taking images or video with your drone doesn't automatically mean you need a license.
It's what you're planning on doing with that imagery that counts.
If you're flying as a hobbyist, above your own house, taking photos of your own family etc - then no - you don't need a drone license.
But if you're receiving some kind of remuneration for the imagery, monetary or otherwise, then you'll need a drone license to legally perform those jobs.
Drone License Questions
Where can I get my drone licence?
Your licence can only be given following the CAA’s review of your Operations Manual and theory and practical examinations.
Heliguy, a CAA approved NQE, can offer training for your licence in their Newcastle, Farnborough and Manchester.
(Venues are subject to change.)
Can I get my drone licence online?
Heliguy does not offer online licences for your drone. We believe all learning should be done face to face to achieve the best results. This method is tried and tested nearly 700 licences provided to date.
I have a Ground School Certificate, Flight Assessment or Operations Manual. Can I finish my training with Heliguy?
Heliguy are happy to offer any part you need to receive your drone licence. Our prices are as follows:
Ground School and Flight Assessment – Perfect if you work for a company you already work for has an Operations Manual you can be added to.
£999 (ex Tax £832.50)
Operations Manual Consultation and Flight Test – If you have a Ground School certificate from another NQE.
£699 (ex Tax £582.50)
Flight Assessment – If you have completed your Operations Manual and Ground School
£249 (ex Tax £207.50)
Operations Manual Refresh – For people who need assistance during the renewal of the manual
£249 (ex Tax £207.50)
Flight Assessment Resit (if taken through Heliguy)
Free of charge
Theory Test Resit (if taken through Heliguy)
Free of charge
Do different types of drones need different licences?
Different types of licenses are required for the different drones available. Different licences are required for fixed wing or multirotor as well as different weight categories, 0-7kg and 7-20kg. Heliguy can offer training for all drones in these classes.
I already have a pilots licence - can I fly my drone commercially?
You will have to contact the CAA directly to check whether a pilots license is sufficient. A separate drone license may be required.
Will my English drone licence apply in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland?
Your drone license will apply in any country in the UK.
How old do you have to be to get a drone licence?
The CAA won’t grant permission to anyone under the age of 18.
Who needs a drone license?
Anybody flying for some type of gain - monetary or otherwise - needs a CAA PfCO to operate.
Do I need a Drone License for Photography?
If you're getting any kind of renumeration for the video footage or photos you're capturing then yes, you'll need a drone license to operate legally.
Do I need a Commercial Drone License or a Hobbyist Licence?
As of the time of writing, there is no hobbyist drone license in the UK. You only need a commercial drone license when you're a business, or operating for "valuable consideration".
Is there a Drone License Test?
Yes - when you take your ground school, you'll take a theory test. Then once your operations manual is complete, you'll be asked to take a flight test too.
This ensures that you have both the theoretical knowledge and practical skill to become a licensed drone pilot.
Is there a European Drone License?
At this point there is no central authority for issuing drone licenses - they're only approved country by country.
No - a private pilot license in the UK is different from the CAA's PfCO for Drone pilots. However, you can skip part of the drone training school, as your private pilot's license is likely to have already given you much of the theoretical knowledge required. Please contact us for more details (Email [email protected] or Call 862 298 5964