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Drone Laws in Germany: What You Need to Know

The drone laws in Germany are pretty much the same as the European law on drones. Here, the Federal Aviation Office (also known as FAO) governs the German skies. As long as you follow the general rules and regulations as either a commercial or recreational, you shouldn’t worry about the government pinpointing you. 

Drone Registration is not Mandatory (but Insurance and License are)  

The best part when it comes to the German law on drones is that you do not ever need to register at the FAO at all if you own a drone. But, you will need a permit if you plan on flying drones at night and a license to fly any type of drone. 

While you may not register for your drone, you do need to sign up for drone insurance since this is mandatory in the country. You are required to write the intended use, coverage, number of drone users, number of copters, flight areas, the scope of drone insurance (how far do you want the drone to travel with you) and the price. 

Non-registration is applicable to both recreational and commercial drone users; meaning you can buy a drone right now and start flying later if you feel like it. Just remember the general rules, which I will explain in the next segment.

What are the General Rules for Flying a Drone in Germany?  

Their website is a bit difficult to navigate, but I managed to break down the most important rules to follow. Arguably, the rules and regulations on droning in Germany significantly lighter than in the USA. You can fly nearer to airports, events and people, as long as you maintain the proper distance level. Nevertheless, here are the important rules to follow:

  • You can only fly up to 100 meters or 328 feet under uncontrolled airspace (contrary to UK, US and Canada wherein you can fly up to 122 meters or 400 feet).
  • You cannot fly a drone that is over 5 kg (11 lbs) at night without having a permit
  • You don’t need to register your drone if it weighs 5 kg or below but you will need a license as long as it weighs more than 2 kg
  • Register for drone insurance first before flying. Failure to do so will lead to a fine. 
  • You cannot fly more than 1.5 km or 0.93 miles within an airport
  • If your drone weighs more than 250 g or 0.55 lbs, you are required to label it with a fireproof badge including your name and address.
  • Sensitive areas such as large crowds, police business, industrial regions, traffic routes and prisons prohibit any presence of drones. Check this map to see the regions that ban drones.
  • You cannot fly more than 100 m vertically over federal highways, waterways and railways.
  • You are not allowed to fly over nature conservation zones as long as they are protected by the Federal Nature Conservation Act
  • Drones that use radio, optical and acoustic signals are not allowed over residential areas unless you have their consent. 
  • You cannot fly over aerodrome-controlled zones
  • Your operation will be halted if you are flying a drone beyond your line of sight.

Flying too Close to High-Profile People will Immediately Put You in Jail  

In 2013, someone was taking photos of Chancellor Angela Merkel while she was in a press conference. Police immediately identified the suspect as one of the activists of the Pirate Party. Immediately, he was sent to jail. But after explaining to the cops that he was only doing it for fun and nothing else because he had no ill motifs, he was released. 

Even if you do not plan on flying near celebrities, politicians, or corporate heads and you are merely taking pictures of random people, you are still eligible for jail as this is a form of obstruction of privacy. 

Following the European Drone Laws  

Basically, Germany follows the exact rules of drone laws in Europe. Recently, there have been changes to the rules including stricter registrations and shortening altitudes for safety. This may also affect Germany’s laws on drones. According to Airport-Technology, 

“At first glance, the new common rules will make operating drones commercially and recreationally across European borders easier and safer. As the EU Aviation Safety Authority (EASA) points out, the requirement that drones be registered and individually identifiable will both reduce the likelihood of another major incident like the one at Gatwick in 2018, and make it much easier to trace the owner.”

Abide by the Rules, and You Won’t Find Any Trouble  

Generally, Germany has enough zones where you can legally fly your drone at any time. If you want, you can always join drone festivals or hotspots to experience droning without the hassle of strict rules. 

FAQs

What is the difference in exempted drone weight between Germany and USA?

Germany lets you fly without a permit if the drone weighs less than 5kg. USA lets you fly without registration if your drone weighs less than 250g.

Can you fly more than 400 feet?

You can only fly up to 100 meters or 328 feet under uncontrolled airspace

Can I fly a drone just as I purchase it?

In German law, you may proceed to fly without a license but you are required to register for a drone insurance?

Are German drone laws the same for other EU countries?

Yes. The Federal Aviation Office of Germany follows the exact protocols of other EU drone laws.

Can I fly at night without a permit?

The exemption from registration only applies if you will only fly during the day. Night flights strictly require a license.

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