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What is EASA, and How do They Implement Drone Laws?

Taking a step away from the United States’ FAA drone laws, we have EASA, which widely controls drone laws across the European Union. 

EASA Headquarters in Cologne, Germany. Image licensed from Depositphotos

We have created this article to explain and simplify the information about EASA, drone laws in Europe, and the registration process, which can prove confusing for anyone getting into the hobby around these areas. 

I am an accredited drone pilot both with EASA in Europe and CAA in the UK. I have a grasp of how EASA works, and I promise you, at the end of this article, you’ll have a much better understanding of it.

So, are you ready to dig in?

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What is EASA

EASA is the European Union Aviation Safety Agency that is responsible for civil aviation safety. It carries out certification, regulation, and standardization and promotes the highest common standards of safety and environmental rules in civil aviation.

EASA is also responsible for drone laws & safety across the entire European Union, plus a few more countries. 

With a shift comparison, EASA is similar to the FAA in the United States.

While the FAA operates across the entire USA, each state may have a different approach to drone laws under the FAA’s umbrella, with registration and certification and even some minor differences.

The same is true with EASA; while this aviation safety agency controls drone laws across all the countries under its umbrella, each individual country has a different registration process and release of certificates.

You can find the official EASA website (drone category) at this link.

Its headquarters is located in Cologne, Germany.

» MORE: Can You Bring a Drone to Germany? 

How many countries does EASA control?

EASA has 27 European Union State Members under its umbrella, plus four more that are not part of the European Union.

Here is the complete list, where you’ll also find links to our articles on specific European country drone laws and registration if you’re interested.

European Union Countries under EASAAustria
Non-EU countries under EASAIceland

» MORE: How to Register My Drone in Switzerland

Are NAA certificates and operator IDs valid across EASA states?


This is the crown jewel when we consider European drone laws. 

Because each country is independent with its own government, politics, language, and laws, finding a regulatory body with total control over all EU countries is uncommon. 

Or what do I know? My experience and knowledge in politics are below zero.

But here we have EASA that not only controls the drone laws across the entire European Union (plus four more countries) but also shares a common database where certificates and IDs are valid from country to country.

What does that mean?

If, for example, you register yourself as an operator with a National Aviation Authority, for instance, in Spain, you can fly the drone in France, Germany, Romania, Norway, and any other country from the above table.

The same goes for obtaining a certificate of competency (A1/A3 & A2) in one of the countries mentioned above; it is available to use across all the EASA state members (source)

But you can’t register yourself as an operator in another country if you have registered to one already.

» MORE: Can You Bring a Drone to Iceland? (What You Need to Know)

Can European Countries under EASA have their own drone laws?

Knowing that European countries are independent from each other and do not share much politics and activities, you’ll be surprised by the answer.

European countries under the EASA umbrella cannot create, change, or adapt drone laws to their conditions (source).

Every single country under the EASA umbrella, which currently counts 27 EU countries plus four more, in terms of drone laws at least, is controlled entirely by the EASA agency at the European level.

There are a few factors that individual countries under EASA can control in terms of drone laws, such as:

  • Registration process and obtaining certificates
  • Minimum age requirement
  • If you need insurance to fly the drone
  • Fines
  • Restricted airspace

These factors are indeed controlled by a country at the national level and not by EASA.

However, here’s a fact not many people know:

The drone laws across Europe (all the countries under EASA) are pretty much the same, no matter where you want to fly your drone.

So, don’t expect France to have drone laws that are different from those in Italy or Germany. 

That’s a sweet deal. But don’t just drop your drone in a backpack and start traveling Europe (I wish I could do this, though). 

Remember the individual factors of each country’s drone laws? 

You have to know their restricted airspace, if you’re allowed legally to fly without insurance, or if you need one, and to check in depth if a specific country found any loophole in EASA’s drone laws to enforce more robust restrictions on flying drones.

I’m thinking about you, Italy.

» MORE: Can You Fly a Drone in Venice, Italy?

Can you register a drone directly with EASA?

The answer is no.

The drone registration process is unnecessary across most countries under the EASA umbrella unless the drone has a restricted airworthiness certificate issued by the NAA.

In the United States, if a drone is above 250 grams, you have to register it with the FAA. But not in Europe. That’s obtaining the A1/A3 certificate.

But generally, you cannot register a drone directly with EASA because there’s no method to do it.

Instead, if certain requirements are met for drone registration in a specific country under EASA, you shall do it with that country on their internal NAA portal. 

Just remember that drone registrations are not shared across EASA countries.

That’s always going to be in the country you want to fly the drone and only there if, by any chance, it is required (the same process of having insurance for your drone in that country)

» MORE: Where Can I Fly My Drone (United States)?

Can you register as an operator directly with EASA?

The answer is no.

You cannot register yourself as a drone operator directly with EASA.

To register as a drone operator, you have to do it with a country under the EASA umbrella, and then your operator ID will be valid across all EASA states. 

There are countries where registration is easier, especially if you’re traveling from abroad and want to fly a drone in Europe.

Some other countries will require you to have a residence in that country to be able to register yourself as an operator.

So, before traveling to Europe with a drone, it is good to know in what country is the best and easiest way to register yourself as an operator, as doing so directly with EASA is not possible. 

We will be covering this later in the article.

» MORE: Autel vs. DJI – Which Drones Are Better?

Can you take your certificate of competency with EASA?

The answer is no.

As with registering a drone or yourself as an operator, the certificate of competency has to be released by an NAA country under the EASA umbrella.

Getting a certificate of competency is mandatory for drones above 250 grams. And doing so may not be so easy, and here’s why.

Obtaining such a certificate will require you to go through a learning process and online examination. 

Until now, nothing too complex, except the fact that most countries will have their courses and examination process in their native language and not English.

So if you plan to fly a drone that is above 250 grams in Europe, you surely need to either know a 3rd party language from one of those countries or, the easiest way, to take the certificate of competency in an English-based country such as Ireland.

Doing it in the UK, Northern Ireland, or Scotland is impossible as they’re no longer part of the EU. 

  • A1/A3 is the basic certificate of competency required to fly drones above 250 grams and can be taken entirely online.
  • A2 is the “advanced” certificate of competency that will allow you to have more complex types of flights and fly in areas not possible with A1/A3.

But to take the A2, you must also undergo an on-location examination to fly a drone to prove your expertise and knowledge, which is not ideal for many travelers. 

» MORE: Drone Laws in the United States

What is the best country to register as an operator with EASA?

In this scenario, we have two options:

  • To register yourself as an operator and take the certificate of competency in Ireland (easiest way)
  • Register yourself as an operator in Ireland and take the certificate of competency in Luxembourg (cheapest way)

You still have plenty of other options if you’re not willing to follow these processes, but here’s why we recommend it.

Registering yourself as an operator in Ireland is the most straightforward way because it’s an English-speaking country, so the language barrier won’t be an issue, and Ireland does allow international addresses in their process.

But taking the CoC in Ireland will cost you around 30 Euros and may be a lengthy process.

Instead, another approach would be Learningzone EUROCONTROL, an Aviation Learning Center supporting European aviation with high-quality courses, tools, and services. 

Their service is based in Luxembourg. And taking the CoC A1/A3 is entirely free.

While taking the CoC in Luxembourg (A1/A3) is a common practice, registering yourself as a drone operator there is not a straightforward approach to make it work unless you’re a national or own a business in that location.

If you’re looking for this registration process with a step-by-step guide, here we have an article we strongly recommend you read:

» MORE: How to Register My Drone in Europe (Explained)

Does EASA control UK drone laws?

Not anymore.

Since the UK left the European Union, in terms of drone laws, they are independent, and EASA no longer has jurisdiction over them.

If you’re traveling to the UK and Europe at the same time with a drone, expect to have an EASA-type of registration with an NAA country to fly the drone in Europe and a different registration for flying a drone in the UK.

The entire process is severely simplified as compared to doing it in any other European country. 

If you’re looking to register a drone in the UK, here we have an article to help you with that.

» MORE: How to Register My Drone in the UK

What are Drone Laws set by EASA?

EASA sets the following drone laws at the European level under its state members and is as follows:

  • For flying a drone in Europe that is not classified as a toy, you must register yourself as an operator and obtain an Operator ID. 
  • If you want to fly drones above 250 grams in Europe on any of the EASA state members, you must acquire the Certificate of Competency A1/A3 with an online examination. 
  • Any drones you fly always have to be labeled with your Operator ID.
  • Do not fly close to people unless under the A1 subcategory (see below for more information)
  • Never fly above an assembly of people, no matter the drone you have.
  • To fly legally, maintain a maximum altitude of 120 meters or 400ft above the ground.
  • Keep your drone in the visual line of sight at all times.
  • Do not fly in restricted airspace without proper authorization.
  • Keep a fair distance from any airports, military bases, or other restricted airspaces.
  • Before flying, and even during, check the surrounding airspace for any possible incoming aircraft.
  • Do not fly above private properties without permission
  • In a few countries under EASA, drones cannot be flown at night (unless with proper authorizations)
  • In some countries, drone insurance is mandatory. Always check with the NAA of the country where you want to fly your drone.

» MORE: Can You Fly a Drone in Santorini?

The New Open Category from January 1st, 2024

As we may have mentioned once or twice in articles we wrote about drone laws in Europe, the Open category will change from the first day of January 2024. And now we have access to all these changes.

The open category classifies drone flights as lower risk and categorizes drones with possible C-class markings to apply specific drone restrictions or ease. 

So, here’s what’s new

Subcategory: A1

Max Takeoff mass: Under 250 grams

C-class: Privately build, legacy and C0

  • Operational restrictions apply. Follow the drone laws.
  • You are allowed to fly above people but not over assemblies of people.
  • If the drone is a toy, drone operator registration is not required. If not, you have to register yourself as a drone operator.
  • No minimum age registration is required, but certain conditions will apply.

Max Takeoff mass: Under 900 grams

C-class: C1

  • Operational restrictions apply.
  • You can fly above people but not an assembly of people.
  • Drone operator registration is required.
  • The minimum age to register is 16
  • Certificate of Competency with online training and examination (at least A1/A3) is required.

Subcategory: A2

Max Takeoff mass: 4KG

C-Class: C2

  • Operational restrictions apply
  • Drones under this category can also be flown under the A3 subcategory if you don’t have the CoC A2.
  • Under A2, you can fly close to people but not above them (30 meters or 5 meters if in low-speed mode). If not, follow the A3 subcategory.
  • Operator registration is required, and remote pilot certifications are required as A2; otherwise, these drones can be flown only under the A3 subcategory.
  • To acquire a certificate of competency A2, you must already have obtained the A1/A3 certificate, pass an additional theoretical exam, and conduct and declare a practical self-training.

Subcategory: A3

Max takeoff mass: 25kg

C-Class: C3, C4, Privately Build and Legacy Drones

  • Operational restrictions apply
  • Fly far from people. Keep a minimum distance of 150 meters from uninvolved people and urban areas.
  • Must not fly over uninvolved people
  • Required registering as an operator
  • Complete the A1/A3 Certificate of Competency.
  • The remote pilot minimum age is 16

If you require any extra information about the new open category system released by EASA at the beginning of 2024, we strongly recommend you check the following link.


Here we are. I now hope you have a good grasp of how EASA works, drone laws in Europe, and the registration process.

To simplify everything even more, here’s what we have to comprehend:

  • Drone laws are merely the same across all countries under the EASA umbrella.
  • You must always register yourself as a drone operator in any EASA state member, which will be available across all these states.
  • The same goes for the Certificates of Competency, which are mandatory for drones above 250 grams.
  • However, registering a specific drone in an EASA country member does not carry the registration to any other state, but this process is a rare exception.
  • You can register as a drone operator or take the certificate of competency only once, in any state member.
  • You can bring drones to Europe, at least to countries under EASA.
  • Not all European countries are under EASA, the same as not all the European countries are part of the European Union. So always check the above table we shared with you.
  • Always check the requirements to fly a drone in any specific country under EASA, and don’t just assume it would be OK to fly there.

As a footnote, I want to share with you that we are not aviation lawyers, nor have we acquired information directly from any. We’re drone pilots certified in many countries across continents around the globe, with experience in flying drones and understanding respective drone laws. This article is based on comprehensive research and knowledge of current drone laws around Europe.

» MORE: Drone Laws in New Mexico