Drone Laws in Germany
In 2017 a new Drone Regulation came into force in Germany. In this post, we introduce you to all the relevant rules you need to know when you plan to fly drones in Germany.
Please be aware: You can fly drones up to a weight of five kilograms without a permit as long as you comply with the other safety rules. If you want to operate a drone which weighs more than two kilograms, you need a German drone license (“Drohnen-Kenntnisnachweis“). With the new drone regulation, the previous separation between leisure and commercial pilots is mostly gone.
Overview: Drone rules in Germany
Drone labels can be ordered here
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Safety distances and flight bans
Multicopters can only fly up to a height of 100 meters above ground. You are only allowed to operate higher if you are on an approved model airfield or have obtained a permit from the responsible civil aviation authority. If you are in controlled airspace, there is a maximum ascent height of 50 meters.
The latest drone regulation defines some places where you have to keep a distance of 100 meters. These include:
- Crowds (Group of more than 12 persons).
- Disasters, disaster areas, locations where authorities and organizations with security responsibilities are operating.
- Federal highways (Autobahn and Bundesstraße), federal waterways, and railways.
- Industrial plants.
- Prisons and facilities of the penal system.
- Bundeswehr facilities and troops as well as other military facilities and organizations.
- Power generation and distribution plants (power plants, wind turbines, substations, etc.).
- Facilities in which activities requiring protection level 4 by the Biological Agents Ordinance (institutes in Hamburg, Berlin, Marburg and on the island of Riems) are carried out.
- Lands of constitutional organs of the Federation and the federal states as well as upper and highest federal and state authorities.
- Diplomatic and consular representations (embassies).
- International organizations in the sense of international law (UN, EU, NATO, etc.).
- Police property and other security agencies.
Flying over nature reserves is prohibited. The laws for nature conservation apply.
Drone flights at night require a permit.
Overflight of residential property is also prohibited if the copter weighs more than 250 grams or is capable of collecting, storing, or transmitting optical data, acoustic data or radio signals. For flights with the usual camera drones, the consent of the person whose rights might be affected must be obtained. Thus, the owners and possibly tenants must be asked if they agree with the overflight. Please also note our section on privacy laws.
A safety distance of 1.5 kilometers must be observed to the outer borders of airports.
This already limits many maneuvers. Even in rural areas, there can be significant limitations. You can find a good map here, which takes into account the many new flight bans.
The Civil Aviation Authority can grant permits to fly in these areas. Unfortunately, every federal state has its own CAA and each one handles the permits differently. It depends on your flight location if you can get permission to fly in the areas mentioned above.
Maximum horizontal distance and FPV
We speak of out-of-sight flights when, as a controller, you no longer observe the copter with the naked eye, but rely on a monitor or video glasses to control it.
In principle, FPV flights are allowed as long as you do not let your drone rise higher than 30 meters above ground. If your copter weighs more than 250 grams, you will also need another person who can observe the copter with the naked eyes and alert you to possible dangers during the flight. Under these conditions, the law does not rate your maneuver as a “flight out of sight.”
If you cannot follow these restrictions, you can request a permit for out-of-sight flights with the National Aviation Authority. However, this approval is only granted to unmanned aerial vehicles with a take-off mass of more than 5 kilograms.
You are obligated to buy drone insurance in Germany. This company offers insurance for drones in English. But according to German laws, companies can only sell you insurance if you live in Germany.
Multicopter should be labeled with the data of the controller so that in case of damage, the person responsible can be determined. A badge is mandatory from a take-off mass of 250 grams.
The drone badge should have your name and address. I think it makes sense to attach the phone number also.
The legislator has made demands on the material of the identification mark. So the badge must be fireproof. The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) itself says that an aluminum sticker with address engraving is suitable for labeling.
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!