Flying drones in Spain (or anywhere in the EU)
Having debated with myself for some time whether to join the twenty first century and acquire a drone I recently took the plunge and learned a lot in the process. Flying drones in Spain is not just a case of opening a box and taking to the air!
I’d strongly suggest you do your research first to ensure you are operating legally. There are several hoops to jump through on top of selecting the best drone for what you want to achieve. Types of drones, weight (class) and how and where you want to fly dictate those hoops – the information here is pretty much based on my experience with a sub 2kg drone.
Perhaps the first page you are likely to stumble on would be on the ENAIRE (Air Traffic Control for Spain) website – Basic Rules For Flying Drones (recreational use). It would seem when you delve a bit deeper that the page appears somewhat out of date. The phrase ‘you do not need to be a pilot’ gives the impression you can just go out and fly – you can not. Also they say ‘You are advised to apply for third-party insurance’. In fact third-party liability insurance is mandatory in Spain.
So, where should you be looking? EASA European Aviation Safety Agency has all the answers in their drone (UAS) pages. We won’t summarize the page as contents may change over time and we wouldn’t want this page to date (there are many pages out there displaying outdated information). You should read this page very carefully!
Some important things to note are;
- Apart from using a ‘toy’ (a drone wighing under 250g without a camera) you are required to register as a drone operator with AESA
- You can then fly recreation drones legally only in the A1 and A3 (descriptions here) open categories AFTER you have completed a free online course (and obtained liability insurance).
The course is free and further information is available here. This course is in Spanish and looks somewhat daunting if you’re not confident about any possible technical content. So after a bit of digging I managed to find the course in English here. Again, the course is free and is provided in conjunction with the Direction de l’Aviation Civile of Luxembourg. I double checked with the provider that with the certificate being issued by EASA (and therefore a European certificate) it is valid in Spain – I was assured it was, as long as any other Spanish specific regulations are complied with.
If you want to fly in the A2 category that you’ll see in the above link, or fly commercially, you’re going to need to do a lot more reading and a lot more training! Something to note is that the definition of commercial in this context is ANYTHING that generates money, anything from commercially commissioned work on property through to monetising videos on YouTube!
I’ll go back to what I said at the beginning, please do your research in order to avoid any hefty fines! When researching, try and keep to official sources like EASA and AESA – view with scepticism anything you read published before 21st December 2020 which is when the regulations were last updated. There’s a mountain of out of date information out there.
The information I’ve provided here should hopefully be enough to set you on the right track – this is not intended as a definitive guide – just a starting point, but it’s up to you to conduct your own due diligence.
Have fun and be safe!
Some other useful links for flying drones in Spain
Coverdrone – Liability and drone insurance which is cheaper than I found for just annual liability insurance here in Spain. Another huge benefit is that it offers worldwide (almost) coverage and can be bought by the day, week, month or annually – great for light hobby users.
An absolute must have is the ENAIRE up to date flight restrictions information available either on the web or as an app. It’s down to you to check current restrictions whenever you want to fly your drone.
Whilst there are plenty of fairly cheap drone options available, as with most things you do get what you pay for. We highly recommend not messing about and going straight for DJI Drones – ideal for most users and excellent quality. (Amazon affiliate links)
All drones are required to carry a label with the operators number/information – I bought mine from here.
Alan, along with Elle, is the owner of Spain Buddy. He was born in the North of England (Lancashire) and travelled extensively before eventually settling in Almería. Alan has 3 sons from the first of his 18 marriages, (Sam, Joe & Ben) who are all now adults. You can read more articles by Alan on his personal blog at AlanGandy.com and see more of his photography on his photography website as well as on Flickr and Instagram.
Also, for less than the price of a cup of coffee each month you can help support Alan’s photography (and get some freebies into the bargain). Click here to visit his Patreon page to find out more.