The Drone and Model Aircraft Code

For flying drones and model aircraft of 20kg or less outdoors in the UK
The Drone and Model Aircraft Code published and last updated dates
From: The Civil Aviation Authority (opens in a new window)
Published: October 2019
Last updated: October 2019

Extra information : Getting a flyer ID and operator ID before you fly (Points 22 to 27)

What you need to do before you fly.

Two things are needed before flying a drone or model aircraft between 250g and 20kg:

  • the person who will fly must pass the theory test to get a flyer ID
  • the person or organisation that’s responsible for the drone or model aircraft, must register to get an operator ID

If you want to fly and are also responsible for a drone or model aircraft, you’ll need to pass the test to get a flyer ID and register to get an operator ID.

Flyer ID


22. You must pass the theory test to get a flyer ID before you fly

Children and adults must take the test – there is no age limit.

Children under 13

Children under 13 must have a parent or guardian with them when they take the test to get their flyer ID.

Drones or model aircraft that weigh less than 250g

You do not need to pass the test before flying a drone or model aircraft below 250g.

Flying indoors or in a netted area

You do not need to pass the test if you will only ever fly indoors or in a securely netted area.

Other types of drone or model aircraft flying

You'll need to get permission from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) or an organisation acting on its behalf if you want to do either of the following:

  • fly a drone or model aircraft that is above 20kg
  • legally fly outside the rules in this Code

The type of permission you need depends on:

  • the size and type of drone or model aircraft you want to fly
  • where you want to fly
  • how high you want to fly
  • whether you want to fly for a hobby or for commercial reasons

You can find out more about permissions and exemptions at the Civil Aviation Authority website (opens in a new window).

Permissions that come with membership of a club or association

In some cases, being a member of a recognised club or association gives you additional flying permissions. For example, you may be able to fly in an area that is normally restricted.

Check with your club or association before you fly.

Flying for commercial reasons

If you want to fly for commercial reasons, you’ll need to get a permission from the CAA.

Commercial means using a drone or model aircraft in return for payment in any way. For example, if someone pays you to record or take photos of an event.

If you already have a permission, such as a PfCO (permission for commercial operations) you may be exempt from taking the test until 30 June 2020, General Exemption E 4956 (opens in a new window).

Flying where there is an airport – within the flight restriction zone

If you want to fly a drone or model aircraft at or near an airport, you must get permission from the airport first.

You can get more information about how to do this at the DroneSafe website (opens in a new window).

23. You must take the theory test every three years

Your flyer ID will last for three years.

Operator ID


24. The person or organisation that’s responsible for a drone or model aircraft must register to get an operator ID

You must be over 18 to do this.

If you’re under 18, you’ll need to ask a parent, guardian or other appropriate adult to register.

Who is responsible for a drone or model aircraft

The law says that the person or organisation that ‘has the management of’ a drone or model aircraft is its operator.

This will usually be the person or organisation that owns it. That’s not always the case. For example, if someone under 18 owns a drone or model aircraft, they can’t be the operator.

Read further guidance on operator responsibilities (opens in new window).

25. Label your drone or model aircraft with your operator ID

Use the same operator ID to label every drone or model aircraft you’re responsible for.

26. Make sure that anyone flying your drone or model aircraft has a valid flyer ID

27. Keep your operator ID up to date

Your operator ID will last for 12 months.