Drone LawsScotland Drone Laws 2022 Guide

Wild Scotland has always been a place of great beauty. From the rugged Scottish Highlands to the lush Lowlands, there is something for everyone in this beautiful country.

Aerial photography gives a different perspective. Additionally, it can be used for commercial purposes such as filming or tourism.

However, with this influx of drones has come an increase in the number of incidents involving them.

In response to this, the Scottish government has drone laws and guidelines in place for drone users. This article covers everything you need to know about drone laws in Scotland.


Can I fly a drone in Scotland?

Yes, flying a drone is legal in Scotland. You need to follow the guidance and drone laws that the Scottish government and civil aviation authority enforce.

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Drone Laws Scotland:

  • Drones must fly below an altitude of 400ft
  • Drones must not fly within 1 km of any airport’s boundaries
  • Drones weighing over 250g will need to be formally registered with the CAA
  • Drone operators must be able to present their registration documents if requested to do so by the police.
  • A valid operator ID
  • A flyer ID
  • Drone pilots will be required to take an online drone safety test before they’re allowed flying time

Recreational drone users are advised to:

  • Always keep the drone within sight
  • Keep 500 ft away from crowds and/or built-up areas, if your drone is equipped with a camera
  • Avoid flying over or 150 ft near to open areas with more than 1,000 people present
  • Adhere to the local council’s rules about drone flights in the area
  • Drone users should use apps to plan their flights, to make sure that they are not entering unsafe or no-fly zones


Where can’t you fly a drone in Scotland?

Scotland is covered in restricted flight zones, most notably commercial airspace such as airports and military bases.

Scottish Drone laws no fly zone

However, you can use the website drone no-fly zone to find out where you can’t fly a drone in Scotland. It allows you to see no-fly areas to avoid.

Do you need a license to fly a drone in Scotland?

You do not need a license to fly a drone in Scotland. If your drones are over 250g in weight, you do need to have completed the CAA Drone Registration. This involves an online safety test and register your drone. This provides you with an operator ID and flyer ID. You require both of these ID’s to legally fly a drone in Scotland.


Commercial Drone License

For commercial flights, you need EC785/2004 compliant insurance. This is part of Scottish drone laws. You no longer need to hold a PfCO (Permission for Commercial Operation) since December 31st 2020.

However, if you wish to fly a drone closer than 150 meters in built-up areas in Scotland, you will need the new CAA GVC or CAA A2 C of C qualifications. Previous holders of a PfCO license are grandfathered into the new qualification and do not need to re-apply.


What size of a drone can you fly in Scotland?

You can legally fly a drone of any size in Scotland, however, you must register your drone if it is over 250g in weight. Registering your drone provides you with an operator ID and flyer ID. You require both of these ID’s to legally fly any drone over 250g in Scotland.

Use Class Marks To Find Out If You Need To Register

civil aviation authority class marks


Not sure if your drone needs to be registered?

Check if your drone has a class mark. The classmark will be marked on the drone and in any instructions. People looking to take drone photography will need a flyer ID and operator ID.

Scottish drone legislation


My Drone Does Not Have Class Marks?

If it doesn’t have a class mark, follow the flying weight requirements table:

drone weight class law

Small Drones

You do not need to register if you will only fly or use the following types of drone:

  • below 250g or in C0 class
  • C0 class with no camera
  • below 250g with no camera and no classmark


Do You Need To Register A Drone In Scotland?

You need to register your drone in Scotland if it is over 250g in weight. You will then be given two IDs:

  • A Flyer ID: Anyone who will fly your drone must pass a theory test and hold a flyer ID
  • An Operator ID: The person or organisation that owns or is responsible for the drone must register for an operator ID

Most people get both a flyer ID and operator ID at the same time.

The flyer ID shows you’ve passed a basic flying test and know how to fly safely and legally.

The operator ID is your registration number and must be labelled on your drone.

It is against the law to fly a drone over 250g without having the required IDs. This is not required for drones under 250g in weight.


Does my drone need a flyer ID?

According to Scottish drone laws, all drone pilots flying drones over 250g require a flyer ID from the Civil Aviation Authority. You do not need a flyer ID for drones under 250g.

How do I get my drone flyer ID for my drone?

To get a flyer ID you must pass the CAA’s official online theory test. The test is free to take and you can take the test as many times as you like. Children and adults can take the test.

The test is open book and you can reference the Drone Aircraft Code during it. The test lasts for around 30 minutes, with a time limit of up to 90 minutes. The test involves 40 multiple choice questions with a pass mark of 30.

How much does it cost for a drone flyer ID?

It is free to take CAA’s official online theory test to receive your drone flyer ID. Your flyer ID is valid for 5 years.


Does my drone need an operator ID?

The operator is the person responsible for managing a drone. The operator is usually the person or organisation that owns the drone or model aircraft. All owners of drones over 250g require an operator ID from the Civil Aviation Authority. A person who is flying the drone but does not own the drone do not require an operator ID. You must renew your operator ID every year.

How do I get my operator ID for my drone?

To obtain an operator ID you need to register your drone on the CAA website here. You will need:

  • an email address that you’ll be able to check during your application
  • a debit or credit card
  • details of any insurance required

How much does it cost for a drone operator ID?

Registration for a drone operator ID costs £9 and is valid for 1 year.

How do I check someone’s operator ID?

You can check someone’s operator ID on the official CAA website. To check someone’s operator ID you’ll need:

  • the flyer ID or operator ID you want to check
  • the name of the person you want to check

You must label your drone with your operator IDdrone flyer id Scottish

According to Scottish drone laws, you must label your operator ID on every drone you’re responsible for. Use the same operator ID for all your drones. Always label with your operator ID, not your flyer ID.

Your operator ID must be:

  • visible from the outside, or within a compartment that can easily be accessed without using a tool
  • clear and in block capitals taller than 3mm
  • secure and safe from damage
  • on the main body of the drone

Do you need insurance to fly a drone in Scotland?

Drones below 20kg

If you fly a drone in Scotland below 20kg for recreation, sport, or as a hobby, you can choose whether or not to have insurance.

If you fly it for any other reason such as commercially you must have third party insurance.

Drones 20kg and above

If your drone is 20kg or more, you must always have third party insurance, no matter what you use it for.

Where can I fly a drone in Scotland?

You can fly anywhere in Scotland that is not restricted airspace. As long as you follow the rules and laws in place.

Fly below 400ft

drone law scotland line of sight

Your drone must never be more than 400ft from the closest point of the earth’s surface.

According to Scottish drone laws, If you fly over hills, mountains, or cliffs, you may need to change your flight route so that your drone is never more than 400 feet from the ground.

You’ll need authorisation from the Civil Aviation Authority to fly at different heights or distances to the ones in law.

Do not fly closer to people than 50m

Drone Survey Service Drone

This includes people in buildings and transport, including cars, lorries, trains, and boats.

A minimum horizontal distance of 50 metres must be maintained between your drone and people. This establishes a no-fly zone all the way up to the legal height restriction of 400ft from the ground. This no-fly zone can be visualised as a cylinder around people.

You are prohibited from flying over people in this no-fly zone. The only exception if it is people involved in your operation.

Never fly over people who are crowded together

Never fly over people who are crowded together, no matter what size of drone you have. A crowd is any group of people who cannot move away quickly because of the number of other people around them. You’ll need authorisation from the Civil Aviation Authority to fly over crowds or groups of people.


Can you fly a drone in a residential area in Scotland?

Your drone must keep at least 150m away from residential, recreational, commercial and industrial areas. You’ll need authorisation from the Civil Aviation Authority if you want to fly closer to residential, recreational, commercial or industrial areas.

Residential areas include:

  • cities and towns
  • villages
  • housing estates
  • schools

Recreational areas include:

  • tourist attractions
  • sports facilities
  • beaches and parks
  • theme parks

Commercial areas include:

  • shopping centres
  • warehouses
  • business parks

docks drone laws scotland

Industrial areas include:

  • factories
  • docks
  • rail and transport hubs

Are drones allowed over private property in Scotland?


Drone are allowed to fly over properties within reason. If your drone has a camera or listening device, you must always respect the privacy of others when using it.

You’re likely to be infringing data protection regulations if you use these devices for drone photography in places where people expect privacy, such as their house or garden.

The General Data Protection Regulation may apply to any drone photography images or recordings you make (GDPR).

What to do when someone is flying a drone over houses in Scotland?

Get in touch with the pilot. Go over and say hello to the pilot if you happen to be around. Before contact with the pilot, make sure the drone has landed. Interacting with a pilot while they are flying is potentially dangerous.

Most operators provide a professional service and will be pleased to tell you anything you need to know about the situation once you notice the craft has landed.

If you honestly believe the drone is causing injury or is being flown illegally, call the police on non-emergency number 101.

Drone Service real estate photography edinburgh

Can I report a drone over my property in Scotland?

Contact your local authorities on 101 if you have any concerns about unmanned aircraft being used in your vicinity, either from a safety or privacy standpoint. The CAA does not always have the same resources, reaction speeds, or investigative capabilities as the police. However, we recommend getting in touch with the pilot first.

There is a lot of confusion about drone laws in Scotland, but the government has released this set of legislation to help clarify some points. There are key things that you need to know:

  • Drones must not fly within 1 km of any airport’s boundaries
  • Drones must not fly above 400ft
  • Drones weighing over 250g will need to be formally registered with the CAA
  • A valid operator ID
  • A flyer ID

Skykam is Scotland’s leading drone service however we are not the civil aviation authority. This post is not legal advice for full accurate drone laws, we advise you to check the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. The CAA contains all legislation and regulations pertaining to drone use in Scotland. We also advise getting in touch with the pilot if you have any concerns about their behaviour.


Skykam is the most experienced drone inspection and aerial photography company in Edinburgh. We provide high-quality services to commercial and private clients including roof inspections, marketing videos, Real estate photography, construction sites, farms, oil rigs and quarries. Get In Touch. 

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