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Drone Regulations in European Countries: France

Though the European Commission strives for a harmonization of regulations for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), the individual EU member states currently apply diverse laws.

In this series, we take a closer look at the regulations and laws on the usage of UAVs in the different European countries.

Part 1: France

The French Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy published guidelines on the use of drones in France.

The ten main rules for private use are:

  1. Do not fly over people.
  2. The maximum flight altitude is 150 meters.
  3. Fly only during daytime and never lose sight of the UAV.
  4. Do not fly in urban or congested areas.
  5. Do not fly in restricted areas such as airports.
  6. Do not fly over protected sites.
  7. Always respect people’s privacy.
  8. Always ask for consent of the people concerned prior to broadcasting footage or photos.
  9. Check terms of your insurance before flying UAV’s.
  10. In doubt, ask for information.


For commercial purposes operators need to be French residents, owning a pilot license (PPL) for planes, helicopters or gliders.

There are seven different categories for drones, mainly depending on their mass, and four types of flight scenarios areas that are defined as follows:

Flight Scenario 1 Flight Scenario 2 Flight Scenario 3 Flight Scenario 4
not in urban areas not in urban areas in urban areas not in urban areas
only in sight of UAV only in sight of UAV only in sight of UAV out-of-sight flight
max. altitude 150m max. altitude 150m
< 2kg,

max. altitude 50m
> 2kg

max. altitude 150m max. altitude 150m
max. distance of 200m max. distance 1000m max. distance 100m unlimited distance
parachute required if weight is > 2kg max. weight 2kg
prior approval by prefectural governor no night flights
pilot needs flight experience of at least 100 hours


Recently, the French Parliament passed a law that drones weighing more than 800g have to be registered and equipped with a device of sound and bright description.


No-Fly Zones in France (Source: AIP Drones)

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