Scotland Drone Laws

Drone Laws Scotland

Updated 10/1/20

Ok, so you just got your new drone. It’s unwrapped and out it’s box. You have probably skimmed through the manual and checked if it’s charged. Great, the batteries are pre-charged and you are ready to rush out and fly. I mean, how hard can it be? Does Scotland have any laws specific to drones??? Read on to learn more about Drone laws Scotland.

STOP!!Drone Scotland

Drone’s are not simple toys. Yes, they are fun but they need to be operated safely and legally.

Step back and read your manual. Get online and read the Drone Code. Take these few steps and you can fly your drone SAFELY and LEGALLY. Remember these two words because they are the first things you should consider before flying. Sure, the drone has a plastic shell but at over a kg in weight and at a height of just 30 metres, it will hit the ground in 2 seconds at a speed in excess of 50mph – enough to cause some serious damage to people/animals or property.

So often to I hear stories of individuals flying drones in densely populated areas or in tight spaces. You Tube is full of fails – just check out this link. Making a drone fly isn’t too hard. The trick is getting it to fly and ensuring it comes back in one piece. You did, after all, pay for your drone and I’m guessing, you want to have some fun with it. Crashing it isn’t much fun :(.

So what are the Scottish Drone laws for hobbyists? Firstly, let me point out that our website isn’t going to attempt to provide legal advice. The laws and regulations are subject to change and the CAA are the best point of call to help you understand your responsibilities as a pilot. We will however, offer 15 few tips to help get you started.

New legislation November 2019

The CAA and UK government have now introduced a new drone registration and pilot competency scheme – live as of the 30th November 2019. Enforced by Police Scotland, it is now a legal requirement for all drones to be registered and pilot’s competent when flying a drone weighing between 250g and 20kg outside (note it is not permitted to fly drones over 20kg under this process). In other words, this will account for most outdoor drones. Interestingly enough, DJI recently launched a 249g outdoor drone which sits out with the new registration policies.

So, what does this mean? Every drone owner, be it a person or company, (250g to 20kg) will be required to register their drone for an annual fee of £9. This will make it easier for the authorities to identify drones and track their owners. In addition to this, every remote pilot will need to pass an online competency test. It’s basically 20 questions to identify whether or not you understand enough about the laws to operate a drone safely and legally as a hobbyist. Please don’t confuse this with a PfCO which is a professional approval to operate drones in return for reward such as payment. The 20 question test will therefore support the education of hobbyists whilst also help make it easier for the Police to charge rogue pilots.

Failure to comply with the new registration process comes with a £1,000 fine. All drones 250g or over must have the Operator ID (from the drone registration) clearly labelled on their drone which is:

  • visible without needing a special tool to remove or open part of your aircraft
  • clear and in block capitals taller than 3mm
  • secure and safe from damage
  • on the main body of the aircraft
  • easy to read when the aircraft is on the ground

The drone must only be flown by a person who holds a valid flyer ID which you obtain by passing the online competency test.

Learn more at

Our 15 Tips

  1. Don’t fly in high winds or rain.
  2. Ensure you are flying a registered drone with a valid Operator ID and Pilot ID if the drone weighs 250g or more and you are flying outdoors.
  3. Make sure there is plenty of light.
  4. Keep a safe distance from people, animals, vehicles and property. – Hit one and you are liable for the damage and could even face criminal prosecution.
  5. Keep the drone in your line of sight.
  6. Don’t rely on the on board camera. You need to know which direction your drone is facing and what is in the airspace.
  7. Pre-plan what you might do if something goes wrong.
  8. Be prepared to ditch the drone, away from people, vehicles, buildings and animals in the worst case scenario.
  9. Make sure you have enough battery to fly and land (we stop flying when the battery hits 25% to 30% depending on the drone’s battery life. Normally 6 minutes remaining).
  10. Stay below 400ft and within 500m horizontally.
  11. Don’t fly near airports (to keep it simple maintain a minimum distance of 5km), power lines or other aircraft.
  12. Read your manual and understand your controls.
  13. play it safe, if in doubt abort.
  14. Make sure your failsafe return to home function has been set up and your drone calibrated before takeoff
  15. Inspect all of your equipment before flying including the drone, props, battery, control and any cables.

P.s. Drone Laws in Scotland are the same as the rest of the UK. They are set by the CAA and enforced by the Police. To find out more about the CAA and Drones click here

Always remember that for a commercial operation, you need to either use or be a company with a Permission for Commercial Operation (PfCO). Drone Scotland is such a company. To find out more about Drone Scotland, read our About section.

Drone Training

Click here to find out how Drone Scotland can hep you become a safer and more competent drone operator.

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Thank you for reading this article on Drone Laws Scotland.

Bjorn Aaen

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