Drone and model aircraft owners will have to pay an annual charge of £16.50 under plans to introduce a new registration scheme in the UK.

Operators of models weighing between 250g and 20kg will be legally required to register with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) from November.

The CAA is consulting on a registration fee to help cover its costs ahead of the launch of an entirely new online registration system in October.

Failure to comply with the new rules could lead to a £1,000 fine.

Only those aged 18 and above will be able to join the scheme, with the registration applying to operators rather than drones. There will be no charge for “remote pilots” – those who fly the drones but are not registered owners.


A device installed at Gatwick as part of efforts to tackle the use of drones in the area
A device installed at Gatwick as part of efforts to tackle the use of drones in the area

After registering, operators will receive a unique code that must be applied to all drones they are responsible for.

They will also be legally required to complete a free online safety test from November, whether or not they are the drone owner.

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Around 170,000 operators will join the new register within the first 18 months, the aviation regulator estimates.

The government has provided funding for the scheme until October, after which the CAA will need to recoup the running costs.

The proposed annual £16.50 charge per operator is based on similar schemes in the US and Ireland and drone usage research.

From next year, new EU rules will see each member state holding a national register of drone users.

The new registration scheme comes after Gatwick airport had to close for 33 hours in the week before Christmas after a number of drone sightings there.

People who purchases drones are informed of the relevant code

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Around 140,000 passengers’ journeys were disrupted and the army had to be called in with anti-drone equipment, which remained at the airport until last month.

Heathrow also closed briefly in January following a drone sighting.

Both airports have said they are investing millions in technology to combat the threat of drones.