Most EU drone operators will need to register them next year

12 Jun 2019

Image: © tanaonte/

From June 2020, most EU drone owners will need to have them registered as per new common rules set out by the EU’s aviation agency.

Drone operators need to prepare for a string of new regulations regarding ownership and flight rules following the publication of new common rules by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

The EU agency said the new regulations will ensure “drone operations across Europe are safe and secure” as it aims to prevent future situations similar to the temporary yet costly shutdown of Gatwick Airport last year.

The rules will apply to drone operators, both professional and recreational, and will allow for a an operator based in one EU country be able to fly under the same conditions in another EU member state.

The most notable inclusion is that from June 2020, the vast majority of drone operators will need to have their drone registered to an address, either their home or business. However, those who operate small drones only for internal use will not need to register their devices.

Who needs to register

Three categories have been created to funnel the various operations of drones:

  • ‘Open’ for low-risk aircraft no heavier than 25kg
  • ‘Specific’ drones, which will require prior authorisation to fly
  • ‘Certified’, which will cater to drones that could carry passengers, as proposed by various start-ups

Data privacy is also catered to in the regulations, with a requirement for drones that feature any sensors capable of capturing personal data – except for those considered toy drones – to be registered.

EASA said that while the regulations will come into force at the start of July, EU member states will have until June 2020 before it must be enforceable by law. While the regulations are expected to replace existing national laws, there is still scope for states to define their own no-go areas for drones as well as other nation-specific rules.

“Europe will be the first region in the world to have a comprehensive set of rules ensuring safe, secure and sustainable operations of drones, both for commercial and leisure activities,” said Patrick Ky, executive director of EASA. “Common rules will help foster investment, innovation and growth in this promising sector.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic