Unlicensed drones

Flying unlicensed drones in Spain, is currently possible under current regulations.

Current drone regulations state that, as of the date you are reading this article, the only drones that do NOT require a license are those drones that (must meet these 3 requirements as a minimum):

  1. Do NOT exceed 250 grams, to fly in almost any scenario and circumstance, although up to 25 kg can be flown without a license. Above this weight you will need an airworthiness certificate.
  2. As long as the purpose of your flight is recreational.
  3. Your flight must be in open category

These are the 3 fundamental requirements you have to meet to fly a unlicensed drones. From this point on, you should consider another series of rules depending on the location where you want to carry out your activity.

It is important to know that the registration as a drone operator with AESA and the license or theoretical and practical training are different things.

These types of drones are class 0 drones and, in order to fly them, all that is required of the pilot is that he/she is at least familiar with the user manual provided by the UAS manufacturer.

A very interesting advantage taking into account other possible restrictions to be assessed and complying with certain rules, they can fly within towns and cities without the need for prior notification or flight permit application provided that do not exceed 20m in height.

Although this may change as of 2024 and at least these unlicensed drones will have to at least notify the Ministry (I repeat, notification, so you should not expect a reply), as drones over 250 grams already do. A very important disadvantage, no doubt.

Flying unlicensed drones

The drone has become one of the star gifts during Christmas, for birthdays and for any other time, as they are very attractive and eye-catching.

Thinking of giving a drone as a gift to someone or for yourself? In my article on the best drones of 2023 I have a section where I tell you about the best unlicensed drones under 250 grams to fly.

AESA always reminds us that, even though there are drones that are classified as “toys” by their manufacturer, a drone is an aircraft and must be flown with caution.

If your drone is not classified as a toy I recommend you to read my article where I discuss the minimum requirements to fly a drone in Spain. It is always advisable that all children who might receive a drone as a gift be supervised during the flight by an adult.

If you are wondering “which drone can be flown without a license“, here are the most popular and widely used models:

Even if your intention is to fly using a drone without a license, you should know that you cannot fly everywhere you please, even recreationally. One of the most important considerations to take into account is to know in which areas you can carry out an activity with a UAS, or what is the same: where you can fly a drone.

With this in mind, you will be demonstrating awareness of current safety measures and avoiding situations, problems for people and yourself.

Best-selling drones under 250 grams

Below you can see which are the best-selling unlicensed drones, or drones under 250 grams, on Amazon. You have no excuse not to fly a drone!

Which drones are needed a license to be flown

As mentioned above, the drones which need permits and licenses in Spain are:

  • Those drones weighing more than 25 kg (55 lbs)
  • If you are going to perform an activity or make a professional use of them.
  • Drones belonging to class C1 marking.

What to do with a drone weighing less than 250 grams

Here’s what to do with an unlicensed drone under 250 grams and its main considerations and rules:

  • It is possible to fly the drone over buildings or gatherings of people up to a height of 20 metres.
  • If your drone has a camera, you can record photographs and videos but you must comply with data protection regulations, the right to honor, privacy, self-image and possible restrictions on photographic flight that may exist in the area where you decide to make the flight with the drone.

Even if you have an unlicensed drone of less than 250 grams, you must take into account some considerations before the flight, and you must also know that for some areas and types of operations you will have some restrictions that you must respect:

  • The most important thing is NOT to fly the drone in controlled areas (CTR zone) and always at least 8km away from an airport.
  • Keep the drone ALWAYS in sight.
  • You must fly in daylight and suitable weather conditions. You must not fly in fog, rain or strong wind.
  • You cannot fly in National Parks, wildlife conservation areas, Biosphere Reserves and Protected Natural Areas (PNA) without an approved permit from the competent body. This information is also available on the ENAIRE Drones website, which I have just mentioned.
  • You must carry a fireproof identification plate on both the drone and the radio control, which has been mandatory for all drones since 2021.
  • Third party insurance is not mandatory, but it is advisable.

Fine for flying unlicensed drones

There are two scenarios in which you may be proposed for a fine if you fly an unlicensed drones :

If you fly unlicensed drones and you do so under circumstances that do not endanger yourself or others, such as reckless flying, being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, absolutely nothing would happen.

But if you fly unlicensed drones and you don’t have one, you can get into big trouble and face fines that can be very large, and which vary depending on whether you are an individual or a company.

You are a private individual

If you are a private individual flying unlicensed drones withouth aeronautical knowledge, fines can range from €60 to €225,000, depending on:

  • If you commit a minor offence, fines can range from €60 to €45,000.
  • When you commit a serious offence, the fine ranges from €45,001 to €90,000.
  • But if you commit a very serious offence, fines can range from €90,001 to €225,000.

You are a company

And if you are a company, regardless of whether you have knowledge or not, the infringements are significantly higher:

  • For minor offences, fines range from €4,500 to €70,000.
  • For serious misconduct, the fine will range from €70,001 to €250,000.
  • And if you commit a very serious offence, the fine you can receive will be between 250,001 and 4.5 million euros.

For this reason it is important that you know what you are doing at all times, whether you have a license to fly a drone or not, or you fly a drone over 250gr or not. You need to be aware of the regulations to save yourself a lot of trouble and, most importantly of all, so that third parties do not suffer the consequences of malpractice.

Do you think that unlicensed drones is your best option nowadays, which drone are you planning to buy? Share your experience here, I read you!

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