One of the most common questions asked by people entering the exciting world of unmanned aircraft is do I need a drone licence? The regulations are under review, but currently you do not need a licence to own a drone. If you use it in business or for profit you do need approval to operate from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), but this isn’t a drone licence in the strict sense.

Approval to use a drone commercially comes in the form of a PFCO – Permission to Fly Commercial Operations. Do I need a drone licence isn’t the real questions then, it’s do I need a PFCO. Examples of people who need approval from the CAA include the following –

  • A wedding photographer who charges customer for aerial photography or video as part of wedding coverage packages
  • An insurance Loss Adjuster who uses a drone to check the damage to roofs and other hard to access places
  • An estate agent who takes aerial shots of properties and land for use in sales and marketing

It’s important to note that it’s not simply the sale of images or aerial footage from a drone that counts as commercial use. If you have any doubt, it’s best to contact the CAA to check. Operating a drone for commercial purposes without CAA approval is breaking the law and can land you in serious trouble. You can also put your customers at financial risk if they are paying you for drone work and you don’t have a PFCO.

If you run a business and are considering do I need a drone licence, it may be better to hire an approved operator to carry out work on your behalf. Obtaining a PFCO costs time and money, and the investment in equipment can be substantial.

Drone Safe Register’s member list is free to use and is a quick and easy way to find a CAA approved drone pilot in your area. You can access it HERE