Rules for the recreational use of drones

Drones are remote-controlled, unmanned aircraft, such as aeroplanes or helicopters. And they are becoming more and more popular. Drones share the airspace with other aircraft. If an aeroplane collides with a drone, it could crash. People on the ground could also be injured in an accident involving a drone. The government wants to prevent accidents involving drones, both on the ground and in the air. Drone operators are therefore required to follow a number of rules. For example, they may not fly a drone higher than 120 metres.

Restrictions on hobby drones

If you are flying a drone for your own personal use, you must comply with the Model Aircraft Order (link in Dutch). These rules aim to prevent accidents involving drones.

Rules on the recreational use of drones

The most important rules for the recreational use of drones are as follows:

  • A private drone must not weigh more than 25kg.
  • You are not permitted to fly over crowds.
  • You are not permitted to fly over buildings or built-up areas.
  • You are not permitted to fly in the vicinity of airports or other no-fly zones.
  • You must always keep the drone in view.
  • You are not permitted to fly higher than 120 metres, either above the ground or over water.
  • You are not permitted to fly in the dark.
  • You must always yield to other aircraft, such as aeroplanes, helicopters and gliders. This means that you must land immediately if you see an aircraft approaching. This also means that you must keep your drone away from the scene of accidents, so trauma and police helicopters can do their work.
  • You can use your drone to take aerial photographs for personal use. This is considered ‘recreational use’. However, you are not allowed to violate other people’s privacy. For example, you are not permitted to secretly film someone. If you want to film or photograph a person, you must first get their permission.

Drone insurance

You are not required to have drone insurance to fly drones recreationally, though it is recommended. Not all types of third-party liability insurance cover damage caused by drones. If your drone causes damage to property or physical harm, the injured party can hold you liable. This is why it is good to check if your policy covers damage caused by drones. Paying damages can be expensive (up to thousands of euros).

Fines for drone operators

If you don’t follow the rules, you can be given a warning or a fine. It is also possible that your drone will be confiscated. The amount of the fine or the type of penalty depends on the nature of the offence. For example, the authorities will consider whether you were using the drone recreationally or in a professional capacity. And whether your actions put any other people at risk.

Professional use of drones

If you use drones to earn money in some way, you must comply with the rules for professional use of drones