- Video report by ITV News Consumer Editor Chris Choi
Drone users face fines of up to £1,000 if the fly their device without passing an online test or registering as an operator.
Both children and adults who want to fly the gadgets from November 30 will have to show they can do so "safely and legally" by passing a test of 20 questions.
The registration scheme opens today but what do you need to do and what does the process involve?
Here's what you need to know.
What do you have to do if you own a drone?
The registration scheme opens on Tuesday and applies to anyone responsible for a drone or unmanned aircraft such as a model plane weighing at least 250g.
From November 30 it will become mandatory for people to register as a drone operator and for them to pass a theory test.
Drone users must visit register-drones.caa.co.uk to access the new system.
Those who fail or do not register as a drone operator by that date will face a fine of up £1,000 under new regulations from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
What happens after you pass?
Registrants will be given a unique ID which must be displayed on their devices.
Use the same operator ID for all your drones or model aircraft.
If you’ve registered, you can check your operator ID in your confirmation email or online.
Your operator ID must be:
- visible without needing a special tool to remove or open part of your aircraft.
- clear and in block capitals taller than 3mm.
- secure and safe from damage.
- on the main body of the aircraft.
- easy to read when the aircraft is on the ground.
The process will cost £9 and must be renewed each year.
The CAA’s new platform will also be used to help return lost drones to their owners.
Anyone losing a drone is advised to post their details on the Drones Reunited platform, while anyone who finds one is encouraged to check if it has a registration number and enter the details online.
What does the test involve?
The test will have 20 multiple choice questions, with applicants needing 16 correct answers to pass. It can be taken as many times as required.
The CAA has prepared material to help you study for the test here.
Do children need to take the test?
Yes, children and adults must pass the test.
A parent or guardian must register children under 13, but the child must take the test if they will fly the drone.
Why is this needed?
Department store John Lewis stopped selling drones in May because of the chaos they are causing at airports.
Drone sightings at Gatwick in December last year caused around 1,000 flights to be cancelled or diverted over 36 hours, affecting more than 140,000 passengers in the run-up to Christmas.
A number of other airports have been forced to suspend flights for several hours due to drone activity this year, including Heathrow.
UK Airprox Board figures show there were 125 near-misses between drones and aircraft reported in 2018, up by more than a third from 93 the previous year.
In March, the drone no-fly zone around airports was extended from 1km (0.6 miles) to 5km (3.1 miles).
Dr Rob Hunter, head of flight safety at airline pilots’ union Balpa, said encouraging responsible drone use is “desperately needed to ensure a collision between an aircraft and a drone is avoided”.
He said: “We have been calling for drone registration for some time now as we believe that in the same way that other vehicles – be it those in the air or on the ground – are registered, so should drones.”
CAA assistant director of communications Jonathan Nicholson said: “The service is about giving something back to the community, helping responsible drone owners and operators to be reunited with lost drones and continue flying.
“Our aim is for the Drones Reunited platform to become an essential service for the drone community – the first port of call for anyone who has lost or found a drone.”