European drone rules. Here’s what you need to know.

It's time! Today, New Year's Eve 2020, the new European drone rules come into effect. This has a number of consequences for almost all drone pilots in . For example, you must register as a drone operator and there is a good chance that you will have to obtain an EU drone certificate. This step-by-step plan shows you exactly what to do, assuming you are going to fly in the Open Category.

European drone rules. Here's what you need to know

Register yourself as a drone pilot

Are you flying a drone that weighs more than 250 grams? Does your drone have a camera? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes”, then you must register as a drone operator. This can be done as a person or as a company. You must register in the country where you live or where your company is located.

In the , you can register via the RDW. The costs are 23 euros. In , registration is done through the DGLV. After the registration process, you will receive an operator number, a unique code that is linked to your registration.

Put the operator number on all your drones

Visibly affix your operator number (also called Operator ID) to all your drones. This is possible with the help of a label, sticker, or decal. The drones themselves do not need to be registered under the new European drone rules.

Get the right training

Does your drone weigh more than 250 grams? Then you will have to obtain a European drone certificate. This is available in two variants: the basic A1 / A3 certificate and the more extensive A2 drone certificate. Which proof you need depends, among other things, on the weight of your drone(s). After completing the training, you can request a flight certificate from the RDW. In Belgium, basic training is provided by the BCAA. You can also take the A2 theory exam at the BCAA.

Check your insurance

Find out if your personal liability insurance also covers damage caused by drones. Do you want to use your drone for business? Then you may need special insurance under the new European drone rules.

General rules for the Open category

  • The maximum flight height is 120 meters from the ground;
  • Always keep the drone in sight and only fly in daylight;
  • Do not fly over or right next to 80 km roads, expressways, and highways;
  • Keep your distance from small airports/heliports and do not fly in CTR areas;
  • Check (or in Belgium: to see in which other zones there is a flying ban for drones;
  • FPV flying is allowed as long as an observer is standing next to you;
  • Take into account the privacy of people who may be recognizable in the picture;
  • Do not fly above places where there are many people;
  • Make sure you have your EU drone certificate (on paper or on your smartphone) with you when you fly your drone.

ROC-light, RPA-L or ROC

Do you have a ROC-light exemption, RPA-L license or ROC permit? Then you must register with the RDW as a drone operator anyway. You can visibly apply the Operator ID to all your drones. As long as you use your “old” papers, you leave the PH registration on your drone.

As it looks now, the Dutch ministry is coming up with an online conversion course for people who already have a ROC-light theory certificate or RPA-L license. After completing this, you can apply for an A2 drone certificate at the RDW. We recommend that you wait a little longer. It is not yet clear how the conversion of a ROC permit to an authorization for the Specific category will proceed.

What do you think of the new European drone rules? let us know in the comments below.

European Drone Rules. Here's What You Need To Know. 1

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This article first appeared on dronewatch.nul and is written by Wiebe de Jager who is also a DroneXL contributor.

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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ or @hayekesteloo.

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