Do I need to register a drone to use it?

16.03.2021 Ekaterina Nedilko, lawyer

From January 5, 2021, unmanned aircraft system operators and remote pilots must register in the new unmanned aircraft or drone e-service portal of the Latvian Civil Aviation Agency

An operator is any natural or legal person possessing an unmanned aircraft (drone) with which a flight is conducted.

A person can be both an operator and a remote pilot (if the person is actually in control of a drone flight).

Similarly, a person can only be a remote pilot if, for example, he/she operates flights on behalf of the company (in this case the company would be the operator).

If you have purchased a drone and plan to fly for your needs, you are both an operator and a remote pilot.

Basic conditions for registration on the portal

  • remote registration fee – 5 euro;
  • age of remote pilot – starting from 16 years;
  • take a course and pass an exam – remotely.

The exam is 40 minutes long and consists of 40 multiple-choice questions.
There is one correct answer for every question. The exam is considered passed if at least 75% of the questions were answered correctly.

In case of successful passing of the exam, information about it is published on the portal, and confirmation of successful passing of the exam of the remote pilot of subcategory A1/A3 will be available in the section “My licenses”, where you can see and download the received certificate.

If you get an unsatisfactory mark, you can pass the exam again. No additional fees will be charged.

Registration must be done once, no matter how many drones you have.

Drone users piloting a drone weighing more than 250 grams are required to register. This also applies to users whose drone weight is less than 250 grams, but with a video or photo function.

This procedure applies to all unmanned aircraft users, regardless of the purpose of the flights performed or the weight and size of the unmanned aircraft (including toys – intended for use by children under 14 years of age).

Operators of unmanned aircraft systems (users on whose behalf the flight is conducted) must mark the drone with a registration number, which will be received on the portal after successful registration and authorization.

The label must be readable without the use of additional equipment or tools. If the size or other characteristics of the unmanned aircraft do not allow the display the marking on its body, this may be done in the battery compartment, provided that no additional tools are required to access and read the marking.

It should be noted that different numbers are assigned during the registration process. The drone must bear the drone operator number and not the remote identification number or remote pilot number.

The new regulation is determined based on the amendments to the law “On Aviation”, which entered into force on January 1, 2021, which provide for the legal provisions necessary for the application of European Union legislation on unmanned aircraft (e.g., Regulation (EU) 2019/947 of 24 May 2019 on the rules and procedures for the operation of unmanned aircraft), as well as legal provisions on administrative liability for drone pilotage infringements.

Pursuant to Section 124.1, Paragraph 1 of the law “On Aviation”, a warning or a fine shall be imposed on a flight with an unmanned aircraft that is not marked or identifiable: for a natural person – from 10 to 30 fine units (50 – 150 euros), but for a legal person – from 30 to 100 fine units (150 – 500 euros).

In its turn, Section 124.1, Paragraph 5 of the law “On Aviation” provides that a warning or a fine shall be imposed for performing a flight with an unmanned aircraft, if the operator of unmanned aircraft systems, unmanned aircraft, remote pilot is not registered in the relevant register of the Civil Aviation Agency: for a natural person – from 10 to 140 fine units (50 – 700 euros), but for a legal person – from 30 to 400 fine units (150 – 2000 euros).

One fine unit is 5 euros (as of 16.03.21.).

It should be also noted that so far the drone piloting requirements have been determined by the Cabinet Regulation No. 368 “Procedures for Unmanned Aircraft and Other Types of Aircraft Flights” of August 13, 2019. However, on July 1, 2021, they will expire. This means that further on, legal norms that prescribe drone piloting rules at the national level will be determined only in the law “On Aviation”.

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