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New rules for drone users


Publication date:

06 November 2019

Last updated:

15 November 2019


James Moorhouse

The rules for owning and operating a drone in the UK have changed.

After significant disruption to both Gatwick and Heathrow airports during the past 12 months, regulators now require drone users to register their machine.


The actual requirements from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) are:

Anyone responsible for a drone or unmanned aircraft (including model aircraft) weighing between 250g and 20kg needs to register as an operator. The cost for this is £9 renewable annually.

Anyone flying a drone or unmanned aircraft (including model aircraft) weighing between 250g and 20kg must take and pass an online education package. This is free and renewable every three years.

Both of these requirements become law on 30 November 2019.


These new regulations hope to ensure that any operated drones are identifiable and can be traced back to their registered owner. This will be done by displaying an operator ID on any drone or model aircraft registered. However, these regulations mean that it will still be possible to purchase a drone without registering it.

As drones must now be registered, this will become a requirement in order to be insured (now the same as approved commercial operators). The three main requirements of the registration process are:

  • pass an online test to get a flyer ID to fly a drone or model aircraft
  • register for an operator ID for those responsible for a drone or model aircraft
  • label any drones and model aircraft with the operator ID

Any failure to meet these requirements could invalidate an insurance policy if a claim is made and incur a fine.


As more people are purchasing drones there are more safety risk fears about who is operating them and how they are being used. These new requirements will allow insurers to understand how the drones are being used, as all purchased aircraft will share the same operator ID as its user. By identifying the location where the drone is used, its intended purpose (eg research, logistics, recreation, etc) and any claims history, this will improve how to understand how drones are used.

The number of people purchasing drones for personal use has increased over the past few years and regulations look likely to increase, as does the potential for misuse and disruption. While insurance will be part of the registration process, the types of insurance can still vary. Damage caused to or by the drone will be a priority, as the majority of incidents occur when a drone loses power or its operator loses control. Some home insurance policies include drones, but there may be strict limitations about its use or distance from the main insured property. Owners of commercially operated drones may also need liability coverage to pay for any invasion of privacy claims or medical expenses.


Full details about the new requirements are available on the CAA website.

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This document is believed to be accurate but is not intended as a basis of knowledge upon which advice can be given. Neither the author (personal or corporate), Society of Claims Professionals or Chartered Insurance Institute, or any of the officers or employees of those organisations accept any responsibility for any loss occasioned to any person acting or refraining from action as a result of the data or opinions included in this material. Opinions expressed are those of the author or authors and not necessarily those of the Society or Chartered Insurance Institute.


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