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Drone Laws in France (Complete 2023 Guide)

Updated in 2023 by Paul Posea
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height flight limit 1

150m max height

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Don’t fly over crowds

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Don't interfere with aircraft

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Only line of sight

France has many places that make for excellent drone shots and footage. Before you decide to document your visit to the Eiffel tower with your drone though you must keep in mind the drone laws set in place by french authorities.

Which brings us to the topic of this article. Drone laws in France and how to navigate them as a drone pilot. Stick around because this’ll be an in-depth article.

Can I fly my drone in France?

In most cases, yes. You can fly your drone in France as long as it’s within the rules and regulations set by European and French authorities.

Since France is in the E.U drone use here is regulated by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) as well as by some local French laws (French Civil Aviation Authority).

If you’d like to contact the French Civil Aviation Authority directly before you travel with any questions you might have, message them on Twitter: @DGAC

Where can I fly my drone in France?

Good question because not all places in France are okay for you to fly over. France operates a detailed drone flight map (GEOPortail) aimed for recreational drone users. The map has a multi-colored scheme with each color representing different regulations. Colors are pink, yellow, orange and red. 

The scope of the flight map does not cover National Parks in which case you must seek clarification from the authority concerned.

Take care not to fly over private land and buildings unless you have express authorization from the owner. 

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General rules for flying a drone in France

Since France is part of the European Union, drone use here is regulated by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), with some additional drone laws specific to France.

There are three operational categories that determine that type of regulations regarding drone use. Since most drones fall in the “open” category that’s what we’ll cover here. (if you’d like to learn more about this, check my in-depth article about drone laws in the European union).

What makes a drone in the “Open” category?

Good question, a drone can be considered in the “Open” category if it fills the following conditions:

  • Your drone has one the class identification labels from 0 to 4 (I go more into this in my E.U drone laws article).
  • Your drone was purchased before January 2023.
  • Your drone’s maximum lift-off weight is 25kg or less.
  • You as a pilot always keep your drone away from people (your type of operations don't need proximity to people).
  • You’ll always maintain a visual line of sight.
  • You won’t fly your drone over 120m in the air (or you can’t, since some drones restrict flight by altitude).
  • Lastly, your drone won’t carry any dangerous or explosive material.

So based on all of the above and IF your drone is considered in the “Open” category, here are the regulations you must keep in mind:

  • Any drone that weighs 800g or above should be registered on AlphaTango, the public portal for drone pilots in France. And just like in the U.S, the registration number that you get must be physically put on the drone and be easily seen by the naked eye up close.
  • Drone pilots must maintain a line of sight with their drone at all times. If you’re using a FPV drone, make sure you have someone else maintain the VLOS.
  • Drones may not be flown at night (unless with special authorization).
  • Don’t fly your drone over people, over airports, military bases, emergency situations, public events and private property. 
  • You must also not fly your drone over ongoing fires, accident zones, or around emergency services.

The two types of drone flight in France

Just like in the U.S, drone flight in France (and the European Union in general) is separated into two types; Recreational and commercial.

Put simply, recreational flight is any type of flying that you do as a hobby and you’re not compensated for. While commercial flying, as the name suggests, is any type of flying that you’re compensated for (a survey for example).

Rules for flying your drone recreationally in France

If you’re only flying recreationally, you don’t need extra rules besides the general ones we spoke about. However, if your drone weighs over 800g, you’ll have to undergo training.

This training can be: (1) the Fox AlphaTango training offered by the DGAC or (2) training provided by the FFAM or UFOLEP recognized as equivalent by the DGAC.

Rules for flying your drone commercially in France

As for flying your drone commercially in France, there are some extra rules and regulations to keep in mind. 

Any pilot willing to fly for work must pass a theoretical exam first which can be taken online or in specified DSAC facilities. You can read more about that here. Just keep in mind that once you pass the exam you’ll receive a certificate that you must keep with you, physically, at ALL TIMES when you’re flying.

Failure to provide that certificate to authorities on-site can lead to sanctions and penalties.

You’ll also have to undergo basic practical training which many centers in France provide. After you complete your training you’ll receive a certificate that you must also keep around with you  when you're flying your drone. Keep in mind that you can’t do your own practical training and consider it done.

faq what should you look for in a drone

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some specific questions and their answers regarding drone use in France, in case you don’t have the time to read all of the above.

Is my foreign drone piloting certificate recognized in France?

We’ve talked about how commercial drone pilots need to have a practical training license to fly, what if you already have one. Fortunately yes, your foreign license is recognized in France, provided you present a translated version of the document.

How do I get a French drone license?

The France drone pilot license includes a technical and practical test. You can check out some of the accredited institutions which offer the best technical courses. Here are some of the practice questions for the test, in French.

The practical part of the test can be administered in the following accredited institutions. The course will cost 2000 euros and a week to complete. 

Can I fly a drone at night?

In most cases, no. In some cases, night flights are permissible provided your drone adheres to all aerial visual and aerial lighting requirements. A special 30-day permit is required in this case then you’ll be good to go.

Conclusion

France is home to many beautiful historical sites that make for some of the best shots and films out there. I think any drone enthusiast visiting France should take their time and take as much footage as they can, but only after familiarizing themselves with the legal landscape regarding drone use.

Otherwise you might find yourself with your drone confiscated, a 4 digit euro penalty or worse, even jail time in some rare cases. But that’s enough warnings, check out this cool drone footage of France by DroneMaster.

author-paul-posea-picture
Hi, I'm Paul.
A big drone enthusiast, reviewing, comparing and writing about drones since 2015. I'm all about helping people enjoy and even monetize their hobby.
paul posea
Paul Posea
Hi, I'm a long-time drone reviewer and I hope my articles and comparisons on this site as well as Dronesgator's youtube channel are of as much help as possible.

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