Whitstable harbour drone shot of harbour with boats in, town can be seen in background.

Drone filming in Whitstable © CNN/Wojciech Treszczynski

Filming with drones (also known as Small Unmanned Aircraft (SUA) or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV)) is becoming popular as they provide high-production value shots and flexibility with minimum disruption on the ground.

However, you need to be aware of the application process and permissions required for filming with drones.

There are 3 basic permissions needed to film with a drone:

  1. Operators license from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
  2. Permission from the land owner, manager or authority for the land where the drone will be taking off and landing.
  3. Permission from the land owner, manager or authority for any property in whose boundary the drone will be operated closer than 50 meters to any people, vehicles, buildings or structures.

CAA Approval
The Air Navigation Order 2016 is the legislation governing aircraft, including drones in the UK. Important points to note are that you must not use drones:
• Within 50 metres of people, vehicles, buildings or structures.
• Over congested areas or large gatherings such as concerts and sports events.

In all cases the drone should not be flown over people, vessels or vehicles that are not under the control of the drone operator or the production.

If the drone is being flown in a busy area, you may also require Traffic Management or a Road Closure, Stewarding Plan and further consultations. Please visit our Highways Filming Page for more information.

Useful Links
Visit the Civil Aviation website to make an application for Exemption or Permission for Operation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) In UK Airspace.
For guidance visit the Civil Aviation website.
UK NO DRONES: please see map of areas where drones are not permitted to fly.
The Dronecode – Simple steps to ensure you fly safely and legally.
The Dronecode have developed a new app to see drone exclusion zones, these can be found on The Drone Safe website.

Land Owner/Authorities Permission
To take off and land a drone, you need permissions from the landowner.

If this is a public space such as a beach or park, you will need permission via the Kent Film Office, for which you will need to complete and submit the following:
• Filming Application Form.

• A valid CAA licence for drone operator.

• Risk Assessment and Method Statement covering the drone operation applied for.

• Public Liability Insurance covering the drone operator for a minimum £5 million.

Please allow at least 5 working days’ notice for any filming involving drones.

Privacy and Copyright

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has issued guidelines relating to the Data Protection Act regarding the use of SUVs for filming purposes – highlighting the privacy risk their use pose.

For more information please visit the Information Commissioner’s Office website.

A permit to fly drones from Kent Film Office does not automatically include a blanket copyright or void any of the privacy and/or copyright guidance above.