Flying with drones without registration as operator

Do you fly a drone without registration? Then you'll find a brief overview of the rules you have to follow here. The rules for flying with drones apply throughout the EU. We leave the European requirements for the drone itself out of this overview.

Rules focused on the risks of flight 

The European rules are based on the flight risks with a specific drone. These risks depend, among other things, on the weight of your drone, the proximity of people, your level of knowledge, and the location where you want to fly. The rules apply to all drone flights, except if you are flying indoors, or if you are flying a toy drone.

Mandatory registration

As of December 31st, 2020, you are required to register online as an operator with the RDW, if you want to fly a drone. You do this by applying for an operator number. You can apply as a person or as an organization. Do you fly a drone that weighs less than 250 grams and has no camera? Then registration is not necessary. The operator number that you receive from the RDW must be visibly affixed to all your drones, for example by a sticker or fire plate.

Three categories: Open, Specific, and Certified

Drone operations are divided into three categories: Open, Specific, and Certified. The more risk there is to people and property, the heavier the category.

  • Open category: This category covers low-risk drone flights, for example, flights with a lightweight drone that do not involve flying over crowds of people.
  • Specific category: This category covers higher-risk flights, for example flying a heavier drone over urban areas or near an airport. To fly in the Specific Category, you need a flight permit from the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (ILT). This can also be a flight statement when it concerns a Standard Scenario published by EASA.
  • Certified category: This category is for very high-risk flights. Think of drones that transport people or transport dangerous goods. This category is similar in risk class to that of a regular aircraft.

General rules for flights in the Open category

 If you fly a drone without registration, you probably fall into the Open category. For you as a drone pilot in the Open category, a number of general rules apply. These are:

  • Your drone may not be heavier than 25 kilograms.
  • Never fly your drone higher than 120 meters.
  • Always keep your drone in sight (VLOS).
  • Always give way to other air traffic.
  • Do not fly in no-fly zones. You can check where you can and cannot fly your drone using the GoDrone app.
  • Are emergency services, such as the police or fire department, active in your vicinity? Then fly in a different location.