Mandatory Drone Licencing from July 2019

It is finally happening.  The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), who cover all things Aviation and Safety, are introducing the mandatory requirement for obtaining a Flyers licence and registering your drone, from July 2019.

If you fly a drone weighing more than 250g, you will need to complete an online education course, and register your drone to fly it.

For personal drones, the licence fee is likely to be about $20.00 a year.

If you use the drone for commercial purposes, that will increase to about $100.00 per year per drone.

This announcement coincides with the first drone delivery services to be trialed in Canberra later this year.  One can only assume that it is a proactive response to the fact that more of these devices will be using our airspace, and there is an increasing issue with people not using their drones correctly.

Personally, I think it is a shame that it has come to this, but like with many things, a few irresponsible people ruin it for the masses.

In the meantime, you can download the ‘Can I Fly there app’? when you intend to fly your drone, which will tell you where you may and may not fly a drone, and what to look out for, in the interests of being responsible.

What do you think about this?  Brilliant idea because operators will be increasingly accountable?  Or punishing the masses because of the few?




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Comments 73

  1. Just typical. The governments of all persuasions are rubbing their collective hands together cheering on the minority of idiots who are doing the wrong thing with drones thus taring all with the same brush justifying the licensing.

    1. Totally agree John, such a shame that there is always a few fools that ruin it for all. We pay the tax because that’s now legislation, but i can assure you the idiots won’t comply….grrrr

      1. It is not about few fools, it is all about money. How many idiots are on the road, and they have a licence. Licence is only piece of paper or plastic, which will not change some poeple behaviour.
        Idiots will always be idiots, with or without the licence.
        Same as fishing licence. Before there was no licence, then only for rivers and lakes, cause they feed a fish. Now we need it for a ocean. Why? Cause the money.
        All about the money.
        Andrew 4X4 and drone flyer.

    2. Totally agree ! The minority idiots are the perfect excuse / reason in this circumstance for the government to rub their hands together. They always have a good reason to implement revenue raising , what ever the case maybe.
      Making them the ideal opportunist.

  2. Personally I think it’s a good idea so long as the license is only given once you pass the test. Hopefully we will see the irresponsible element of drone users gone that way.

    1. No, it will not “see the irresponsible element of drone users gone”….
      Look at car licensing….you will always have that element….nail them, and leave the majority, who does the right thing, alone!!

    2. Yeh, right, that will never happen. Myself and many others are firearm licence holders and daily i can see all the criminals lining up to get their licence so their firearms are licenced when they rob a service station.

  3. just another way of revenue raising for the government
    the “licence” price will gradually increase in time for sure
    what will be next a “licence” to ride a push bike

    1. What a shame!!!!! As was said before…the minority ruin it for the majority (the tail wagging the dog). Why not get the minority and penalise them…..No, it is easier to make a blanket rule and penalise the majority.
      Yes, I think there should be licensing for push bike riders. Compare the number of accidents and injuries where push bikes were involved, to the number of drone incidents………go figure!
      My two cents worth!

    2. There should be a licence to ride a pushbike on the roads how is any different for anything else that uses the roads!
      Yes there a bit special I know

      1. Fully agree! Same roads, same road rules! How many times have we seen cyclists flouting the road rules…no stopping at stop signs, no stopping at traffic lights, no signals given….NO helmets…and law enforcement just drives by…

      2. Totally agree Nigel, what about the damage they cause and the inconvenience to motorists but alas, too many pollies are cyclists so licencing and insurance will never happen.

  4. As a Pilot I say …Finally…..
    The scariest thing to hear when arriving at an airport is a report of a drone in the area which in happening at least one a month now where I fly. hitting one no matter how small is going to do some serious damage particularly to a small aircraft and has potential to cause an engine failure.

    As you stated it is the few that ruin it for the many but hopefully now CASA will be able to stop the few and reduce the risk

    1. Hi Paul,
      Whilst I appreciate where you’re coming from, and with myself having no more knowledge of drones or anything aviation related for that matter other than how to fly my drone within the legal guidelines, and take half decent footage and pictures with it, my question is how will CASA enforcing mandatory licences and registration do anything more than just create revenue? I mean I get the whole accountability side of things, but I guess my question is, is forcing people to acquire licences and register their drones the only way to be able to nut out the rogue few that do ruin for the others? Or do airports and authorities have the ability to trace flight paths of the drones that are being flown in controlled and restricted airspace? (The last question is genuinely me asking you as someone who is a pilot as I don’t know the answer myself).
      Keen to hear your thoughts or even learn something new.
      Please know this isn’t me having a dig at you in any way, I’m just genuinely curious if there are other ways available to police it other than just make everyone register their drone and do an online course? Hope my question makes sense. 🙂

      1. Bernie

        Working in Aviation I can tell you they could only track via radar and I highly doubt at the size of a smalleDJI drone thats possible. As has been seen whilst the idiots do fly near airports they dont tend to catch many otherwise the would publicize it as a prevention measure. Many commercial guys will be reqd to and the good ones do fit a transponder device that emits a traceable signal whilst in flight the same as A/C which is traceable via code and radar. Unless you fit the device about the only way you will get caught flying a drone “illegally ” at this time is someone filming you your vehicle number plate and handing it over to authorities. CASA as with all Government agencies is revenew driven make no mistake.

  5. How on earth can CASA condone drone deliveries when one of their major drone regulations is that you cannot fly a drone beyond your line of sight? Drone registration is a great idea but when will CASA take action against the thousands of drone pilots who put illegal photos on Social media? By illegal I mean over Sydney Harbour, over Jervis Bay, above 30 metres along Sydney’s eastern beaches, above 120 metres elsewhere, in NSW National Parks (without contacting a Ranger first) etc. etc. etc. I love Pat’s 4×4 shows but it appears he breaks a few rules with his drone footage. (?) I have been a responsible drone pilot since DJI’s first release several years ago and I obey the “can I fly there” app.

    1. Thank you Bill-you rightly highlight the current reality and some potential issues which are clearly more complex than simply licensing all drone users.

  6. Way back in the 1950 / 60 you needed a licence for a push bike.
    Australia is getting too much of a licence or as they say nanny states. They should give hefty fines for the ones who endanger planes and so on and the ones who invade privacy by flying too close to peoples houses.

  7. Just a money grab.. thats all it is. How are CASA going to police it with the few staff that they have. Good luck CASA

  8. I suspect that this is like the Vic boat licence, where you can buy a licence without ever having driven a boat. At least the cost isn’t prohibitive -yet.
    We saw from recent events at Gatwick and Heathrow airports that enforcing the regulations will be near impossible unless all the drones currently out there become registered too. I would think that that is unlikely.

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  9. Walter, so a driving licence for cars got rid of the idiots on the roads?

    Unfortunately the idiots know the resources aren’t there to police this, so they can continue to do as they like until the day they get caught. Then they’ll accept the slap on the wrist and mild ticking off, before they go and do it again because it’s fun…

  10. Unfortunately the majority of drone incidents caused by irresponsible, stupid people and kids none of who will bother to register, its impossible to police so really just another grab for cash, a bit like fishing licences in NSW you pay your money and get…..oh thats right nothing

  11. I would like to know how they are going to police this.
    Will we get some form of verification of registration? eg- a sticker to place on the drone or controller

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  12. Having witnessed many irresponsible drone users flying them in places where signs clearly indicate that drone use is prohibited including caravan parks and beaches I think that drone licensing is a great idea.

  13. Now that would be a good idea a license to ride a push bike and of course the compulsory third party insurance to cover the damage they do to pedestrians and cars ?
    As to the drone license does any body remember licensing for CB radios, televisions they all went with the dodos as it was all too hard to police and administer, unlike of course push bike licenses

    1. Damage push bikes do to cars? Really? Are you serious?

      I’ve been driving 4WD’s for forty years as well as riding motorcycles & pushbikes (for commuting), and horses (in the bush) and I know who comes off second best in an accident – and generally (but not always) the motorist is to blame……………

  14. I think it is a great idea as I am a pilot and know the restrictions of being in the air . You will still get idiots that’s life unfortunately look at texting while driving . Good to get it regulated

  15. After listening to an interview by casa yesterday on ABC radio.. The purpose of licencing is to have records of who owns specific types of equipment in certain areas.. Thus allowing them to know where to go if there is an incident. So in affect making it easier to have a witch hunt like at Gatwick. except for the fact that if someone is doing something illegal what are the chances of them being registered?? secondarily when we are talking about the vast majority of people who are likely to report a drone incident what are the chances of them being able to identify the type of drone, lets face it anything that the pilots see that they are unsure of what it is they report as a drone.. Some of the drone reports have been utterly ridiculous like planes spotting a Dji Phantom at night at 300ft while traveling at 200+mph really?? Have a look at Xjet on youtube for a commentary of drone related news from someone who has been in the model aviation hobby for 20+ years who has a very strong focus on safety..

  16. Being a licensed CASA drone operator I unfortunately agree more so with registering them so the operator who is doing the wrong thing can be identified … how often do we hear of arseholes invading people’s privacy with their drones… suspected pedophiles flying around our schools .. you may recently recall Heathrow Airport in lockdown because of a drone being flown in close proximity to landing and taking off aircraft .. all we need is a aircraft tragedy killing possibly a large number of people because of some idiot .. I’m afraid people unfortunately we are penalised because of the actions of a few bottom feeders .. I have recently seen on QLD Parks and Wildlife you are not permitted to fly a drone at Canarvon Gorge .. another idiot doing something wrong .. who knows?

    1. You, know that there is no evidence of the drone flying at heathrow, Or Gatwick for that matter.. And for the following days police were called to investigate a drone, that turned out to be lights on top of a crane 6km away from the airport outside of the restricted area???

  17. Bloody typical, this country is going to shit…..I’ve invested a lot of money in my drone and I follow all the CASA rules this sucks..and wait there will be more I’m sure

    viva the revolution


  18. I agree this is just going to be another money grad, the people doing the wrong thing will just not register and still do the wrong thing .

    It will just penalize the people already doing the right thing.

  19. I don’t mind paying for a licence but why is it going to be annual fee.
    Once registered that should be it until you change / update your drone.

  20. Interesting!! you need a licence and registration for a drone, and an educational course completed. I assume this is for the safety and privacy of us all. How does that compare with riding a bike on the road, sorry I forgot that’s compleatly safe

  21. A license is not going to change the behavior of the idiots that fly in restricted airspace. Just look at fishing licenses. Plenty of self centered pricks break the law with bag and size limits even though they are licensed.

  22. Licence them and get some sort of control. Yes there will be idiots, but if we can identify and punish them it may make it safer for the rest. I noted with interest the reply by Paul. The aircrew at one of our RAAF Bases cheered when news came that a notorious local pilot had died. When questioned as to why? the universal reply was that we no longer have to worry about the bastard roaming into our airspace when we are practicing high speed manouvers.

  23. Discusting but possibly necessary to ensure users get some education and are seriously careful. However, the is no need for more licence fees. The cost should be borne by the CAA.

    Just imagine the uproar if the government trys to slip in cycle licences in the same way.

  24. Absolutely necessary as I was nearly involved in a mid-air collision with a drone that was in the wrong place. A 250g drone will cause serious damage if it fouls the prop or helicopter rotors, most likely cause a crash. As for bikes, that’s a state matter. I agree that it is dangerous for small children on trainer wheels can legally ride on the road.

    1. Good Comment. My concern is the online test. How do they know who is doing the actual test? Anyone can sit in that chair once a person is signed in, or would you have to go to a designated office / area to do the test so it is delivered to the person wanting the licence ? Fail the licence then can’t buy a drone ( legally) Just like the vehicle and motorbike tests, show up and drive/ride and do your test to pass. Maybe legislate where you can buy a drone over the weight restrictions from? Doesn’t stop you buying one just makes it more difficult for the wrong doers to get one. My 2c worth and I don’t own a drone or want to own one. I would stack it for sure.

    2. I can build drones large, small, race, spy, carrier… from untraceable Chinese parts. If anyone on this forum knew a little about drones they would know that illegal activity will be done with custom UAV’s. All CASA have done is create a black market and the means to punish the well intentioned and licensed pilot for their accidents or ignorance. Apart from pro’s there is no incentive to licence a drone— none.

  25. I support drones being used for emergencies, say to deliver urgent medicine, but as soon as a drone injures a person for sake of delivering some fast food, i think it will be shown that the priorities were wrong. There will also be heaps of justifiable complaints about noise and visual pollution.

  26. The government gave up on tv licenses and they also gave up on CB radio licenses because it was all too hard and costly to manage in comparison to the revenue it raised. As well, it was hard to police offences which were often thrown out of court due to lack of evidence or even laws governing the offence.
    It is BIG BROTHER governance with a BIG stick trying to herd and scare the masses.
    The law is unable to control fools who decide to fly illegally and endanger lives, and lucky if they catch them.
    Most users are law-abiding and probably rarely fly at all after the initial buzz has worn off unless they do so for commercial purposes. There’ll be a big hullabaloo about this initially but like most fads, the rhetoric will die off after a while. In the meantime – fly responsibly!

  27. Another revenue raising exercise under the pretence of improving management and the behaviour of a small number of inconsiderate operators. Cannot see how licensing will change any current issues or improve policing of idiotic human behaviour.

    I suggest CASA licence and police the act of pregnancy and solve all our social problems!!

  28. After reading some of these comments a couple of points stand out. Registration sounds like a good plan, but here’s a couple of problems. 1) you’d have to capture the offending drone or the offending pilot to get their registration. 2) knowing where they live won’t help you find where they fly. 3) Only the law abiding and educated fliers will register. The rest will still fly under the radar. (pun intended). 4) CASA will never be able to police it. 5) The cost of registration is just another tax . Where will the money raised go? To all the pilots commenting, I feel for you. It would be very scary to suddenly come across a rogue drone while flying. But really, who do we think is flying them? The guy who spent 2 -10 thousand on a drone to take video footage, or a kid with a $100 toy and no idea of the rules? Lets face it, there is little or no information given on the restrictions when buying ANY drone. Education first, then lets talk about registration and enforcement..

  29. Unless a drone emits and identifying beacon and can be tracked to touchdown the probability of finding the pilot is zip. The flight path would have to be recorded for prosecution purposes. The drone will be gathered and the perpetrator will have quietly departed the touchdown site. An exercise in government futility and knee-jerk.

    If they can be tracked then hit them with enough RF energy to scramble their comms and knock them out of the sky or have a good trap shooter on standby.

    Governments may try but they cannot legislate against idiots.

  30. Australia has been more thoughtful than many countries with issuing drone laws and guidelines. They have not rushed to introduce mandatory licensing, and it does add value to the industry ensuring some responsibility is placed back on the person choosing to purchase and fly something which can be dangerous otherwise.

  31. Hi Bernie. The equipment casa will have will allow them to locate drones and see the registration details so they can locate the operator if it is not being used correctly. Whether it is near aircraft or being flown recklessly near people

  32. And for those saying licencing won’t do anything it will. It will allow those caught doing the wrong things to he penalized or prosicuted as having a licence same as having a car licence puts the legal responsibility on you to know and follow the rules and not knowing is not a valid defence.

  33. As a registered drone operator who has attended and completed an on site training course I think this is a significant dilemma for all of us. However when you consider the capability of modern drone technology and its ready availability it’s pointless to say “let CASA just catch the bad guys”. How would this be done without some formal regulatory process. There would be no legal mechanism to deal with the “bad guys”. The licence does not apply to micro sizes only to those above 250g. If you can afford to buy and operate one of these you can afford $20 for a licence. Drones are not like cars and bicycles they operate in three dimensions and can travel at over 70 km/hr. And you can have that capability for a relatively small cost.
    Consider if everyone of your urban neighbors had a drone and did whatever they want with it whenever they wanted.
    I think that enforcement should not be too difficult given the way our comms technology works at the moment. Software can be included in the programming of the machine to allow it to be disabled if the operator does not follow the rules. Now this could be a problem for those who have not taken the time to understand the exiting air traffic control regs as they apply to unmanned aircraft (yes that’s what a drone is ) and to consider the way they have to interact with others in the airspace. What would you do if your drone brought down the westpac rescue chopper cause you didn’t see it coming.
    Overall licenceing is a good thing because there are a bunch of drones operators out there who think they are doing the right thing but they just don’t know what they don’t know.

  34. I love the concept of drones especially for photography. Drones have no place where there are people or houses. They are an invasion of privacy and noisy. I have no doubt that their use in deliveries will not be approved for a whole raft of logical reasons.

    licence them no – ban their use in built up areas, over the top of private property other than you own, and allow use in public areas where there are no other people – sort of makes sense.

  35. It will cost more to do the paperwork . How long before we see the price go up and up. Yes there should be some rules and training for them. Just another freedom taken away from the people that do the right thing.
    Just another way the government can make a buck. Its getting to the stage that you are going to need a licence to do a shit soon,

  36. I was thinking of getting a drone to compliment our photography of trips and travel. I will defiantly not be buying one now, I am sick to death of another registration and licence being imposed on us , and you can be sure this will be the thin edge of the fee pricing edge. My two bobs worth on this mandatory licencing and registration is ;;
    people should be given the choice now of either following this law or be entitled to compensation to buy back there weapon, because that is what the officials are really saying, so treat it like the gun buy back scheme. Thousands of people in the past bought and owned guns for whatever reasons, but all of a sudden one day they became illegal and some requiring licences. these citizens outlaid there hard earned cash to purchase a gun when it was legal to have one, what is the difference now with a drone, hard earned cash outlaid to have enjoyment with, now will be illegal, the way I read it unless you bow and kiss the authorities boots. you have a right to be compensated now, if what you bought in the past was ok, but can now make you a criminal. Speak up , get onto your federal Politian be fore its to late.

  37. I completely agree with UAV registration and about time too. I use a UAV for GIS surveys and used as a tool the UAV is very effective. However, too many times have irresponsible operators invaded peoples personal privacy. Idealy UAV’s should be fitted with a transponder that identifies the unit serial number that can be correlated to the owner via licensing so that these few individuals that need to use a UAV for inappropriate or illegal use can be identified and their license to purchase can be suspended or removed.
    Aside the obvious issues others have pointed out regarding manned aircraft miss use can cause considerable disruption for people using UAV’s for legitimate work tasks.
    Once again we find the few pests ruin it for the rest.

  38. What a load of you know what those that do the wrong things will still do it and won’t get a license or registered because this won’t stop anything me for 1 won’t be and i fly correctly this is just a money grab nothing more

  39. 250 grams is a pretty small drone. I think that the licensing side was inevitable as no-one wants some twit flying a drone that causes a plane or helicopter to crash. The bureaucrats should have gone one step further and required the license to be shown before purchase of a drone greater than the 250gms.

    It will be interesting to see if people who buy remote controlled cars will also require a license if they use them on a public road. I have seen plenty of guys with their petrol engine toys screaming up and down public roads.

    I have witnessed a couple of instances a real car and its passengers almost come to a terrifying end as the car driveway swerved to miss what they initially thought was a child running across the road. I actually cheered when one of the remote toys was crushed under the car wheel.

  40. It is a whole load of rubbish about a money grab. For heaven sake do the maths and have a bit of a think about it.
    If the government wanted to make money (or even recover costs) then a licence fee in the order of $2000 per annum might get somewhere near it .
    So you guys really need to have another think about why this is being considered. Under the CASA std operating procedures for Drone ops flight within 30 metres of people or over property that is not your own are already prohibited. If you had done the training you would know this.
    I suggest you all actually go and find out what you don’t know about this stuff and then put together a well informed comment that can be properly considered in the context of regulation

  41. So how do they police it? do they make you register the drone at point of sale? what if you buy from overseas or better still build your own? if you fly an unregistered drone, do they shoot it down and try and track who you are? ditto, if you’re unlicensed, shoot the drone down and try and track you.
    seems our governments, whether state of federal are far more interested in discovering new methods of extracting revenue than they are of actually solving a problem.
    and for the record, don’t now, nor ever and have no intention of ever owning any type of drone. licensed, registered or otherwise.

  42. It would be more responsible to avoid misinformation and quote directly from CASA, instead of making your title like clickbait:

    “28 March 2019
    CASA is planning to introduce a drone registration and accreditation scheme from July 1 – but it has yet to be finalised.
    It will be phased in and recreational users will not have to register until November.”

    As a registered operator I’m opposed to this stupid idea as it’s far too late, and the stupid people who fly ion the wrong place won’t pay or register. People who are already flying according to the rules will just be penalised by paying more.

    1. Post

      Hi Nick,
      Thanks for the updated information. When we received information about it, nothing confirmed that the registration was not required before November. I can see how it looks like we have sensationalised this, but the truth is that we were under the understanding that it was mandatory from July, not that there is a grace period until November.

  43. As both a drone owner and a commercial pilot I knew it was inevitable that the govt would feel the need to do something to make it look like they were working to control drone misuse.
    Unfortunately apart from probably having to put a registration sticker on your drone to identify it this won’t solve the issue of drones and planes coming together accidentally from use by the idiot minority. Registration and licensing doesn’t stop those people from being a road hazard in their cars so it is not likely to have much impact on them here if they even bother to do it.
    What it will do however is give a little more education to the well behaved drone owners perhaps giving them a better understanding of airspace use and so potentially reduce the accident risks for them so it’s not all bad.
    As to what the govt do with the money from registrations, that is another thing. It would be good to feed it back into the drone industry somehow but it is more likely to be swallowed up by the bureaucracy as $20 is a pretty small amount

  44. Let say I got my drone registered and I got the license to operate for recreational use, wanting now to fly my drone and have to checked the Apps where can I fly ?, Most of the results comes out, you can not fly because you are in the suburban area, restricted area and mostly the spotted area on the Apps are prohibited to fly drones. So you gotta go to the parks with no other people around just you, but still you have to ask the council permission if you can fly your drone and most likely the answers are NOT Allowed. You go to the beach, reserves, open spaces and you still not allowed to fly drone. You follow all the rules and yet you paid for registration and still cannot fly your drone. While those who doesn’t comply the rules can fly their drones anytime without hesitation. So it is unfair to those who follows regulations. Which mean registration doesn’t correct other people from wrong doing, it doesn’t make any sense. We are just a hobbyist wants to do simple fun and happiness for a few minutes once in a while.

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