In Europe, there are limitless places to film or photograph with a drone, whether the Alps, the Carpathian Mountains, Transfagarasan, or the Côte d’Azur.
How do you register a drone in Europe?
Registering a specific drone in Europe is unnecessary unless the drone has a restricted airworthiness certificate issued by the NAA. In exchange, you should obtain a mandatory Operator Registration ID and, if the drone is beyond 250 grams, a Certificate of Competency, at least A1/A3, acknowledged by EASA from within a recognized state.
We’ll share everything you need to know to obtain IDs and certificates to fly a drone in Europe.
To help, we’ve identified and reviewed the best drone courses for beginners and professionals.
What is EASA?
EASA, or the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, is the main party that creates, regulates, and oversees drone laws across all the European Union state members, plus four more.
Each EU state member, or NAA or National Aviation Authority, oversees the drone operator registration process for Operator IDs and the exams required to obtain a Certificate of Competency.
Registering as a drone operator in Europe
You will get an identification number when you register as an operator in any of the state members under EASA jurisdiction. We call it an operator ID.
As an operator, you are responsible for any drone in your fleet.
You must also label your drones and display your operator ID accordingly.
Register yourself as a drone operator to legally fly a drone in any EASA country.
Once you do, you should get a unique identification number recognizing you as a drone operator across EASA states.
You can do it in any of the state members controlled by EASA.
Just be aware that some states will not have a registration process in English. They may require a national address and do not support international registration addresses.
Where to register as a European UAV (Drone) Operator for non-EU members
The easiest way to register as a drone operator in an English-speaking country under the EASA umbrella, such as Ireland, is to follow these steps:
- Access this link and click the Sign Up Now option. The same link can be used to log into the portal.
- Once you have registered and confirmed your email address, log in.
- Once you have logged in, confirm the marketing selection which popped up. Now, the main page appears.
- Within the main/home page of your account, you can see grayed-out options such as Unmanned Aircraft System – Operator Registration, which is what you need to register as a UAS operator, and a few other options such as A1/A3, and A2 exams.
- You will have to verify your identity, which will take three to 10 days, and you must fill out the form with all your details.
Note: This process is in English; you can register even with an international address. It’s one of the easiest ways to get an Operator identification code within EASA/EU.
Certificate of Competency A1/A3
The second part of the process applies to drones above 250 grams or those used commercially.
Obtaining a certificate of competency is a bit harder than registering as an operator.
You must take a 40-question written exam with a passing score of 75 percent within the NAA country you want to register as a drone operator.
In most countries, the CoC will cost $10 to 15, depending on where you want to take it. Most CoC exams are in the country’s native language, not English.
» MORE: Can You Fly a Drone in Spain?
Where to register as an operator or take the Certificate of Competency as a non-EU member
Important Note: EASA does NOT directly issue Certificates of Competency or allows direct drone operator registration. This always has to be done with one of the state members.
Another approach to what we discussed above would be undertaking these certificates (A1/A3 + A2 if required) and registering as a drone operator via accredited companies offering these services in some specific countries, with material to learn for the exam and a comprehensive guide in English.
This will cost you, but it could be a more accessible approach for travelers beyond EU borders.
We recommend the following approach for a non-EU resident traveling to Europe.
Take the Certificate of Competency
The first approach is registering for an A1/A3 exam in Ireland using the same portal as for the Operator ID. This will cost you around 30 euros.
Wait for the ID confirmation to activate your account to access their services.
Another approach, and one of the cheapest, is to use the Learningzone Eurocontrol.
The EUROCONTROL is an Aviation Learning Center that supports European aviation with high-quality courses, tools, and services.
The A1/A3 course and examination is free of charge and will be accredited by EASA. The institution is based in Luxembourg and is recommended by the government as a way to obtain the drone certificate.
You must take the A2 exam in person.
As a traveler, you only need an A1/A3 for drones above 250 grams.
- To get started, register on the portal with your personal information and confirm your account from your email.
- The next step would be to log in with your username and password.
- After you log in, press the Home button, scroll down to courses, and click.
- Search by keyword A1/A3 and choose the first course. You can also go to this link.
- On the right side, go to Course Registration Request and follow the steps to enroll. Once you complete the two-hour free A1/A3 course, you can take the exam for the Certificate of Competency, which will be registered in Luxembourg but valid across all EASA state members.
Note: You can take the course as many times as you like over a three-month period.
While you will receive your Certificate of Competency, you cannot fly your drone without registering as a drone Operator, so follow the above steps.
We don’t recommend Luxembourg for that; you can only register if you’re a national or have a business there.
Is my NAA drone registration valid across Europe?
To cover this in detail, your Operator Registration ID and Certificates of Competency are available across all EASA state members, no matter in which of those countries you have taken the certificate or registered as an operator.
In some ways, you can transfer your certificates from one country to another, but that could be a lengthy process, and frankly, it isn’t worth it, as you have no benefits.
At the time of writing this article, towards the end of September 2023, the following states are under EASA drone laws.
|Countries & Territories under EASA
|European Union member states
|Non-EU member states
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Do I have to register my drone in Europe if I only connect flights?
There are two ways this could be done when connecting flights via a European airport:
- Without getting out of the terminal area
- Going out of the terminal area and getting through the security check-in again.
When visiting a few European countries, including the UK, which is not on the EASA list, I had no issues bringing a drone on a plane, as long as I followed the protocols.
The same goes for connecting flights, even if you have to go through the security area again.
However, if asked, you can mention you’re connecting flights, and of course, if you are unsure, you should contact the airline or your connecting flight airport for definitive confirmation.
Europe is not yet very strict on traveling with drones, especially if you’re just connecting.
Can I bring my drone to Europe from the USA?
Generally, you are allowed to bring a drone to Europe from the USA, but you will have to consider a few factors.
- The airline you’re flying may have some rules regarding traveling with a drone. A very few may even forbid it. It’s better to check with your airline before traveling.
- Remove the battery from your drone and place it in a LiPo bag in your backpack above your seat in the cabin. NEVER place the drone batteries in the luggage area due to extreme temperature and pressure fluctuations.
- There should be a maximum total wattage of how many batteries you can carry. Always check with your airline for the LiPo rules.
- Ensure that your drone operating frequencies are allowed across Europe. In the USA, there’s FCC protocol; in Europe, we have CE. Some FPV drones operating in the USA may not be allowed to perform in Europe, but it’s unlikely you will be questioned.
- A few European countries may require drone insurance to fly, even as a hobby. If you plan to fly in one of those countries, insure your drone per their regulation before departure.
- Register as an operator and get the certificate of competency before traveling to Europe. If you’re questioned about your drone’s intention, you can prove you have the knowledge and required certifications to fly the drone.
- Never turn on your drone in the airport area, not even the remote controller, as you may trigger the airport security protocols.
If you’re a non-EU resident visiting Europe and plan to fly your drone in the Open category, you must at least register as a drone operator.
Do European countries have their own drone laws?
You will be surprised by the following answer: NO.
European countries under the EASA umbrella cannot create, change, or adapt drone laws to their conditions (source).
All drone laws of those 28 European countries plus four more are controlled entirely by EASA.
The only thing a national aviation authority under EASA changes is the method of how you obtain the certificates and registration process, the minimum age requirement if you must have insurance, fines, and restricted airspace.
Everything else is controlled at the European level.
Therefore, the drone laws are the same if you fly in Spain, France, Germany, or Greece.
You must adapt to their insurance requirements and restricted airspace, but other than that, if you are registered as an operator and have the Certificate of Competency taken in any European state under EASA, you should be just fine.
Moreover, a drone does not have to be registered unless you fly high-risk, and the drones are considered to be certified (it has a certificate or a restricted certificate of airworthiness issued by the NAA), according to EASA.
Be aware that some countries may use this as a loophole and classify most of their flight as high-risk just for you to register your drone.
That’s why it’s best to check with the European destination country where you want to fly your drone for requirements and regulations.
» MORE: Can You Bring a Drone to Paris?
What are the common drone laws across Europe?
- Always register as a drone operator if you’re not flying a toy drone and acquire a Certificate of Competency if you fly above 250 grams.
- Always label your drones with your Operator ID.
- Do not fly over or close to people. This will differ under what category you fly your drone in Europe (see below).
- Never fly above an assembly of people.
- Maintain a maximum altitude of 120 meters (400 feet).
- Respect restricted airspace and do not fly there without authorization.
- Keep your drone in your visual line of sight at all times.
- Check the surrounding airspace for any possible aircraft.
- Keep a fair distance from airports and military bases (minimum 5 to 8 kilometers or 3 to 5 miles).
- Do not fly a drone above private property unless you have permission.
- In some European countries, drones cannot be flown at night.
- Some countries may require you to have drone insurance or register your drone. Always check the drone laws.
» MORE: Drone Laws in the United States
Is there any country in Europe where flying drones is forbidden?
At the time of writing this article, we are unaware of any countries across Europe where flying a drone is forbidden.
However, there are countries that EASA does not cover, and the drone registration process may be different.
A few European countries not under EASA would be as follows:
- United Kingdom (including Northern Ireland, Isle of Man, England and Scotland)
- North Macedonia
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
What are the drone categories in Europe?
If you want to fly your drone under a category in any European state under EASA, consider the following information:
Open Category: Applicable until December 31st, 2023
Drones under 250 grams
- A1, but the drone can also fly under the A3 subcategory.
- The drone operator registration is not required if it’s a toy. If the drone has a camera or sensor, registration is necessary.
- No training is needed (certificates).
- No minimum age if it’s a toy.
- There should be no flights above uninvolved people or assembly of people.
- The flight duration should be minimized if flights above uninvolved people happen with a drone under 250 grams.
Drones under 500 grams
- A1 subcategory, but the drone can fly under the A3 subcategory.
- The drone operator registration is required.
- You must follow the drone user manual.
- You must have an A1/A3 certificate of competency.
- The minimum age to fly is 16.
- No flights above uninvolved people.
- No flying over assemblies of people.
Drones under 2 kg
- A2 subcategory, but the drone can fly under the A3 subcategory as well.
- No flying over uninvolved people.
- Keep a minimum distance of 50 meters from uninvolved people.
- Drone operator registration is mandatory.
- If flying under the A2 subcategory, you must acquire a Certificate of Competency A2. If flying under A1/A3, you need the A1/A3 Certificate of Competency.
- The remote pilot minimum age is 16.
Drones under 20 kg
- A3 subcategory.
- Do not fly near or over people.
- Keep a minimum distance of 150 meters from residential, commercial, or industrial areas.
- Remote pilots must be at least 16 years old.
- Read the drone user manual carefully.
- Complete the training and pass the A1/A3 Certificate of Competency exam.
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UAS existing drones with C-Class markings
- C0 – DJI Mini 2 SE, DJI Mini 3, DJI Mini 3 Pro
- C1 – DJI Mavic 3 v2.0, Cine v2.0 and DJI Mavic 3 Classic
- C2 – DJI MAVIC 3E EU, 3T EU, 3M EU, M30 EU, M3OT EU
- C2 – SENSEFLY eBee fixed-wing
- C3 – DJI Matrice 350 RTK and Trinity F90+ fixed-wing
- C6 – Delair UX 11 Camera AG, IR, RGB; Longue Elongation Camera AG, IR, RGB – all fixed wings
According to EASA, in September 2023, only the above-mentioned drones have a C-Class marking classification that will be recognized across EASA member states.
You may want to check this link from EASA for more information about Open category restrictions and C-Class markings.
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