EU-wide drone regulations: The Open category explained

With the new European rules for drone pilots, the Open category was introduced, which is particularly interesting for hobby pilots. In this article, I explain what the Open category is about, what the different subcategories mean and which flight maneuvers will be possible in the future. You will also find information about the recognition of existing categories for EU residents and non-residents.

This article gives an outlook on the upcoming rules, but not all details for the practical implementation of the EU regulation have been clarified yet. The national authorities have time until the regulations come into force to clarify the open questions. Until then, the article does not claim to be complete. For a better understanding, you should definitely read the overview article on the European drone laws first.

The Open category includes flight maneuvers that represent only a low risk for other people. For such operations, you do not need to obtain permission from an authority.

In order for your operation to fall into the Open category, the following requirements must be met:

  • The drone falls into a defined drone class or was privately manufactured or was placed on the market before 01.01.2023.
  • The drone weighs less than 25 kilograms.
  • The drone flight takes place at a safe distance from persons and not above crowds.
  • The flight takes place within visual line of sight or with an observer beside you for FPV flights.
  • No dangerous goods are transported.
  • No objects are dropped from the aircraft.
  • The maximum flight altitude is 120 meters.
  • If an artificial obstacle (e.g. tower, wind turbines etc.) is higher than 120 meters, the responsible authority can increase the maximum allowed flight altitude by up to 15 meters.
  • The minimum age is normally 16 years, although the states can reduce it to 12 years.

UAV operators must register in the Open category in most cases. Click here for information about the registration of drones and copter pilots.

The Open category is again divided into three subcategories, to which additional rules apply. If your project cannot be covered by any of the following categories, your flight will fall into the Specific category or into the Certified category.

Subcategory A1

Permitted flight maneuvers:

  • No flying over crowds
  • For drones with C1 markings: Avoid overflight over uninvolved persons, if unexpectedly persons do show up, then make overflight as short as possible.
  • In Follow-Me mode, distance is not further than 50 meters.

Permitted aircraft:

  • Self-built drones with less than 250 grams total mass and maximum speed of 19 m/s
  • Industrially manufactured drones with less than 250 grams take-off mass, if they were first sold before 01.01.2023
  • Class C0 drones
  • Class C1 drones

Required qualification:

  • Pilot has studied the user manual extensively
  • For class C1 drones: Participation in an online course, which must be successfully completed with a theory test.

Subcategory A2

Permitted flight maneuvers:

  • A horizontal distance of at least 30 meters must be maintained to uninvolved persons. Rule of thumb: The horizontal distance to uninvolved persons should be equal to the flight altitude. This distance can be reduced to 5 meters if necessary if the drone is operated in a “slow flight mode” which allows a maximum flight speed of 3 m/s (10.8 km/h).
  • No overflight of uninvolved persons is allowed.

Permitted aircraft:

  • Class C2 drones

Required qualifications:

  • Pilot has studied the user manual extensively
  • Remote pilot certificate (online theory training, self-study on conditions for A3 and submission of an appropriate declaration and further theory examination)

Subcategory A3

Permitted flight maneuvers:

  • Endangerment of uninvolved persons must be excluded after reasonable discretion. (e.g. no flights in city centers).
  • Horizontal distance of 150 meters to residential, commercial, industrial and recreational areas

Permitted aircraft:

  • Privately manufactured drones with a maximum weight of 25 kg
  • Industrially manufactured drones with less than 25 kilograms take-off mass, if they were first sold before July 1, 2023
  • Class C0 drones
  • Class C1 drones
  • Class C2 drones
  • Class C3 drones
  • Class C4 drones

Required qualifications:

  • Pilot has studied the user manual extensively
  • Participation in an online course, which must be successfully completed with a theory test.

What do the terms “uninvolved persons” and “crowds” mean?

According to the European Aviation Safety Agency, the term “crowd” is not defined by a number of people. Instead, the criterion is whether individuals can move around within the group freely enough to escape a drone out of control. As an example, it cites sports, cultural, political and religious events, beaches and parks on a sunny day, shopping streets during store opening hours and ski resorts, tracks and lanes.

In Europe, the term “uninvolved” is understood to mean a person who is not involved in a drone maneuver or who is unaware of the operator’s instructions and safety precautions. Persons in buses or cars also belong to this group, as they can potentially be endangered by the drone.

As an example, typical “uninvolved persons” are considered: Spectators at sporting events, concerts, and other major events and people on the beach, in parks, or pedestrians on the street.

Examples for typical “uninvolved persons” are spectators at sporting events, concerts, and other major events and people on the beach, in the park, or pedestrians on streets.

“Involved persons” are therefore people who decide to participate in the maneuver, understand the risk, check the position of the drone, and can get to safety in an emergency. This includes a declaration of consent and a briefing by the operator.

Recognition of certificates

If you already have a certificate of competency from a member state, it will remain valid for one year. Be aware that this old certificate may not be recognized in other EU countries, unlike the new EU certificate. From 1 January 2022, you will need a certificate according to the EU regulation. Your old one may be converted into an EU-recognized certificate but this depends on your country.

Information for non-EU residents

Currently, your certificate obtained in a country which does not follow the EU regulation, will not be accepted. The reason is that there is no mutual recognition agreement between the European Aviation Safety Agency and other countries. This means you will have to undergo training according to the subcategory you want to fly in.

Are there any questions left unanswered? Then write to us in the comments and we will try to help you as much as possible.

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  • Pankaj sinha | 01.01.2021

    I have dji Mavic air 2 ( approx 950 gms) I live in Germany . And I wnat to fly my drone as hobby and in vacation . Please guide me what certification I require and how can I do it n which test I hv to give

    • Drone Traveller Team | 08.01.2021

      Hello Pankaj,
      As you’ve probably read, Germany has just introduced the new EU rules and it can be quite complicated to figure out which certification you need. First of all, make sure you register as a drone operator on this platform. Because of high demand, you can wait until 30th April to do so but in the meantime, you have to mark your drone with your name and address. If you already have an old German drone certificate, you can still use it throughout 2021, but only in Germany. If you do not have one, you will need one of two EU certificates to fly an Air 2. This depends on what kind of flights you are planning. Please refer to this article on the Open category to learn more about the subcategories. If you want to use your drone according to subcategory A3, you need to take the online course and test offered by the Luftfahrt-Bundesamt on this website: If you plan maneuvers according to A2 (less safety distance to people and buildings), you need a more extensive certificate, which is offered by various test centers, for example this one, which is affiliated with us. The good news is that these EU certificates will be recognized in the other participating countries and are valid for 5 years.
      Now, if you plan flights not covered in the Open category (e.g. beyond visual line of sight), there are further requirements with even more extensive examinations, but there is no information yet where to take them in Germany. We hope this helps!

  • Kailash | 02.07.2021

    I’m a US citizen who would like to fly my drone in EU under the “Open” category. I was able to register as a drone operator in Cyprus and I also have the A1/A3 Remote Pilot Competency Certificate issued by Luxembourg CAA.

    I’m assuming that my operator ID and Remote Pilot competency certificate is valid in all EASA member states? I’m assuming that I do not need to register again in another EU member state.

    So, if I were to visit Greece or Germany, I’m assuming that I’m good to go. Please advise.

    • Drone Traveller Team | 01.08.2021

      Hi Kailash,
      You are correct, your registration and certificate are valid in the other EU countries. You only have to check if there are additional requirements like mandatory insurance that may differ from country to country.

  • Mark | 15.09.2021

    Hello, I am planning to visit Malta in 2 weeks and would love to be able to fly my mini2 drone. I have the CAA approved A2 CofC exam.
    Can I fly my drone, would it be legal, and do I need to complete any other documentation

    • Drone Traveller Team | 15.10.2021

      Hi Mark,
      Currently, UK certificates are not recognized in the EU, as a recognition process has not been started yet. See the EASA FAQs, section “Aircraft Operations”, for details:

  • Vince | 20.10.2021


    I’m in the US and having a hard time understanding where/how to actually register so that I can fly my drone with me in a few weeks to Denmark legally. Can you please help me out so I can get all squared away?

    Thank you!

    • Drone Traveller Team | 22.10.2021

      Hi Vince,
      as far as we can tell, there isn’t a registration platform yet. However, this page on the official Aviation Authority website states that if a drone pilot has gotten a Danish competency certificate with a number that starts with DNK-RP, they are already automatically registered. Unfortunately, to obtain a competency certificate, you need to log in using one of those online accounts for government services. We are not sure if you can get one as a foreigner.
      The CAA has another article explaining things for foreigners flying drones in Denmark, but it only mentions EU citizens. So your best bet would be to ask the CAA. Another option could be to register in another EU country. The law says that you should register in the first country you visit, but in this case, they make it very difficult and it’s also unclear if this type of registration will be valid during your next trip to Europe.

  • Shreyas | 28.10.2021

    I am resident of United Arab Emirates. I am traveling to Czech Republic; Austria and Hungary for visit in November Should I get a license for flying my Mavic mini 2.

    • Drone Traveller Team | 05.11.2021

      Hi Shreyas,
      You generally don’t need a license for drones under 250 grams, you only need to register. It might be helpful to read the online course materials so that you have a good understanding of the general rules. The course and even the test are free in Austria, for example ( – it’s in German but you may be able to use a translation program.

  • Stephen Chong | 09.11.2021

    Hi, I am trying to register my drone at the LBA website but its all in German which I dont understand. Is there an English version of the site which I can submit my registration ? Also, how can I purchase a short term drone insurance for the time I will be in Germany ?

    • Drone Traveller Team | 19.11.2021

      Hi Stephen,
      We are not aware of an English version, have you tried using translation software? For insurance, it is best to look at providers in your country. Sometimes, drones are included in liability insurance policies but you should make sure that it covers accidents worldwide. We provide some tips about drone insurance here.

  • Kunal | 16.11.2021


    Can you please confirm if, for dji mini 2 (less than 250 grams), I hope only the following are required
    1- liability insurance
    2- register operator on
    3- sticker on drone (with eid)

    There is no need for –
    1- License
    2- Register the drone

    Thanks in advance !

    • Drone Traveller Team | 19.11.2021

      Hi Kunal,
      In general, this is correct. However, there might be additional rules in the country where you want to fly. So please look at the individual article. Here is an overview.

  • Stephen | 20.04.2022

    Hi there. I have the dji mini 2 and am on vacation in Nerja, Spain.

    I have registered the drone in spain and have passed the Lux open category test online.

    Am I allowed to fly over residential areas to film the small villages or not? The laws are confusing depending which site you view as they specify not flying over densely populated areas which to me would include all houses and urganizations but others specifically reference densely populated being a crowd of people out in the open.

    Nerja ocean also looks restricted for birds which really restricts beachfront flying despite these zones not showing up on DJI site?

    Any advice would be appreciated!


  • Divansh | 29.06.2022

    I have dji mini 2 under 250grm
    With Swedish operating id

    Do i need anything else to take my drone with me to Paris. .

    Do i need to apply any form to fly it with in paris city or disney land ?

  • Harry | 25.03.2023

    I wonder if anyone could break down the information more. For I am dyslexic and can’t follow these complicated instructions.
    I am going to be visiting Spain for two weeks, I am from Scotland which is now outside the EU. I have a DJI mini Pro 3 drone. Can anyone inform me as to how I apply, I am confused with all the different categories.
    Many thanks

  • Tamit Kumar Das Sharma | 28.02.2024


    I am new to Germany and have recently started to pursue the hobby of flying drone for recreational purposes to capture the beauty of the German cities. Currently I am situated in Heidelberg and want to capture its beauty through my drone. I have a DJI Mini 4 Pro drone which is less than 250 KG. I have the following questions.

    First, Do I need a certification of some sort and where can I obtain it from? and second, where can I look up for the places in Germany where I am allowed to fly a drone, especially in Heidelberg.

  • James Samith | 28.02.2024

    I really want to buy a dron, as I have never had it and also would love to use it while travelling!

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