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Small Unmanned Aircraft (SUA)

SUA with or without Surveillance Equipment

The growth of the SUA industry has increased rapidly in the past few years and such aircraft, otherwise known as "Quadcopter" or "Octocopter", are widely available for sale to the general public. The rapid technological development of these devices has made them increasingly popular and has encouraged their use in a large number of commercial and private activities throughout the world.

Although largely advertised as "toys", SUA, like radio controlled model aircraft before them, are considered to be aircraft under the Law and as such there are Civil Aviation Regulations that apply to their use in order to ensure the safety of the general public and property that are not involved in the activity. As such, SUA are prohibited from flying close to Airports, in congested areas, flying close to people or property, flying for commercial gain or flying beyond visual line of sight unless specific permission has been given by the Director of Civil Aviation. Essentially, the person controlling an SUA is fully responsible for the safe operation of any flight.

As all of Gibraltar is considered a highly congested area, SUA, including those under 250 gms, cannot be flown without the permission of the Director of Civil Aviation. The aim is to ensure that the general public is not endangered by persons operating them without proper training or awareness of the dangers posed by the activity.

As of 1st March 2024 all new applications for SUA permits will require the pilot to have a minimum A1/A3 licence obtainable through the UK CAA or a EU Competent Authority. 

Pilots in the open category may only obtain permission to fly in the four coastal flight zones where flights are only permitted over the sea, except for take-off and landing, and in seaborne areas where the SUA is launched from a boat and the flight takes place enirely over the sea. Applicants will be required to have adequate insurance to cover the activity they are undertaking, a United Kingdom CAA Flyer ID (see below), provide proof of identity,  and have considered, and mitigated, all risks associated with the flight. 

This link provides a sample of the four coastal areas and seaborne areas available, please see the application below on how to apply:

Coastal Areas

Seaborne Areas

In order to obtain a United Kingdom CAA Flyer ID follow the link below to register and take the test at no cost, this will establish a basic understanding of the safety principles involved in operating an SUA:

Prepare for the theory test | UK Civil Aviation Authority ( 

All other areas of Gibraltar require a pilot to comply with all of the above conditions and hold a pilot licence in the Specific category or demonstrate equivalent experience. Further conditions may apply and can be obtained by contacting the DCA at the email address below.

Operators visiting Gibraltar, who wish to fly their SUA, must obtain a permit from the Director of Civil Aviation.  They will be required to provide the Director of Civil Aviation with proof of identity, proof of insurance and proof of competence, as in a licence issued by their country's Competent Authority. Permits will in general only be issued for the coastal areas although requests for other areas may be considered but such consideration will be subject to the requirements of the specific category. 

The Director of Civil Aviation commented "While buying such equipment is easy, it must be remembered that an SUA being flown at several hundred feet above the ground is a potential killer if it is poorly operated and falls to earth! Equally, given the proximity of aircraft operating from the Airfield, any activity by Small Unmanned Aircraft must be carefully coordinated to avoid conflict with or delays to aircraft operating from the Airport. Therefore it is extremely important that anyone considering buying such equipment for use in Gibraltar reads the policies below".

All Gibraltar operators need to be registered and SUA's will be issued with a registration mark which will have to be displayed on the SUA for all flights.  The following documents detail the processes to be followed to register as a drone operator and the charges this will incur:

Policy 11         Small Unmanned Aircraft

Procedure 11  Small Unmanned Aircraft

Aerial Work Permit Application Form

This form should be downloaded and when completed emailed to the above address.

If an operator has further questions they should contact the Civil Aviation Office at to receive advice on the limitations to its use in Gibraltar.A Frequently Asked Questions Document on the subject can be downloaded here:

Drones Frequently Asked Questions

The UK CAA have set out a very useful short video on You-Tube, which while not catering for all the circumstances of Gibraltar, does highlight the important do's and don'ts of drone flying.

The video can be found at -

A poster showing the main requirements of Drone Flying can be found at the following pdf link:

Drone Aware Information