Drone Laws in Germany
Last update on 02.05.2021 | 13 Kommentare
If you want to use a drone in Germany, you should familiarize yourself precisely with the legal requirements. In this article we would like to show you which rules apply to copter pilots in Germany.
The EU Drone Regulation has been in force in Germany since December 31, 2020. This has largely harmonized the rules for remote pilots. You only have to register as an operator in one European country and your EU drone license is also recognized across countries. This is some relief for travelers. However, the participating countries can make some regulations independently, which is why it is always worthwhile to find out about the applicable law in the respective country. In Germany, too, there are some special things to consider in the implementation of the new drone laws.
If you want to register in Germany, you can do so via this link.
Overview of the European rules that apply in Germany
In Germany, the regulations of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) apply. The following is a summary of the key facts. For a complete overview, read our article on the new EU drone regulation.
National peculiarities in Germany
Each country can define certain aspects of its drone regulations. For Germany, the following requirements apply in addition to the European regulations.
Futher rules for drone pilots in Germany
The compulsory insurance is regulated in Germany in the Aviation Act and has not yet changed with the EU regulation. That means you have to insure your drone flights with liability insurance. The sum insured for accidents with aircraft under 500 kilograms, which include drones, is set at 750,000 special drawing rights, which corresponds to around 900,000 euros (as of the end of February 2021). Since the exchange rate can change, you are on the safe side with 1 million euros or more. We have put together suitable drone insurance policies in this separate article.
Note that you have to have your insurance certificate with you when you use your drone!
Almost everyone who wants to fly a drone now needs a license. In the Open Category, there is the EU competence certificate A1 / A3 and the EU remote pilot certificate A2. In Germany, the Luftfahrt-Bundesamt offers online training and the exam for A1 / A3 certification. You can find the German exam platform here. So far, the training and the test for this “small” driver’s license have cost nothing. However, it can be assumed that a fee will be charged in the future. This is already the case in other countries.
The Luftfahrt-Bundesamt has named test centers for the A2 certificate. You can find a list here.
If you already have an old certificate of knowledge according to §21d of the air traffic regulations, you can partially continue to use it in Germany until 2022. General decrees of the federal states also remain valid during this period.
Safety distances and flight bans
In 2021 we are in an exciting transition period, in which individual countries can adapt their laws to the EU regulation. It is the same in Germany: So far, the Luftverkehrs-Ordnung (air traffic regulations) has regulated drone flights here. This law now has to be revised, as it contradicts the European rules in some points and therefore two different provisions apply to one flight scenario. We illustrate this with an example:
Example: flights over residential areas
With the EU drone regulation, you can only use certain copters to fly over residential areas without a permit, because this is only allowed in subcategories A1 and A2.
The German air traffic regulations do not differentiate between residential properties according to weight if the property owner has agreed to the flight. This allows you to fly over residential properties with drones that are otherwise only permitted in sub-category A3.
However, this would undermine the distinction between the sub-categories and the European rules are always preferred.
Such contradictions are expected to disappear in mid-2021 when the air traffic regulations are updated.
Until the law is updated, some old rules regarding safety distances still apply. Without a permit, flights are not allowed over:
- Disaster locations, disaster areas, locations of use by authorities and organizations with security tasks.
- Federal roads (specifically motorways and federal highways), federal waterways and railway facilities.
- Industrial plants.
- Prisons/jails and penal institutions.
- Bundeswehr facilities and troops as well as other military installations and organizations.
- Energy generation and distribution systems (power plants, wind turbines, substations, etc.).
- Facilities in which activities requiring a permit of protection level 4 in accordance with the Biostoffverordnung (institutes in Hamburg, Berlin, Marburg and on the island of Riems) are carried out
- Land owned by constitutional bodies of the federal and state governments as well as upper and supreme federal and state authorities.
- Diplomatic and consular missions (embassies).
- International organizations within the meaning of international law (UN, EU, NATO etc.).
- Properties owned by the police and other security agencies.
- Nature reserves
This means that many flight maneuvers are restricted. Even in rural areas, there can be significant restrictions. You can find a good map that takes into account the many flight bans here.
As a remote pilot, you are also obliged to avoid manned aircraft and unmanned free balloons. A safety distance of 1.5 kilometers must be kept to the external borders of airports.
You need a permit for various flights that no longer fall into the open category, but into the special category. So far, the state aviation authorities were responsible for such permits. We assume that this will continue to be the case for individual permits.
Germany has strict privacy laws which must also be observed by drone pilots. In addition, the European Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) affects the way you can collect and store people’s data. These laws make it very difficult to fly over and capture images of residential neighborhoods without infringing on the rights of the residents.
You should try to not capture images which contain people’s data, like their name, address, appearance or even license plates. If you want to take photos or videos of people or objects which might identify them, please ask for permission first. You are also not allowed to publish any photos or videos of people without their consent.
Do not fly over places that are normally hidden from view. This could even be in nature at lakes or parks, if people have taken measures so that they are not seen by others.
We have researched the listed drone regulations for Germany to the best of our knowledge. We cannot guarantee the correctness of the information. If you want to be on the safe side, contact the competent aviation authority. Alternatively, you can also ask the embassy in your country for further information about the regulations. Please leave us a comment when you receive news and/or gain experience with your copter in Germany!