121 Gibraltar (UK)

Two horizontal bands of white (top, double width) and red with a three-towered red castle in the center of the white band. Hanging from the castle gate is a gold key centered in the red band. The design is that of Gibraltar’s coat of arms granted on 10 July 1502 by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. The castle symbolizes Gibraltar as a fortress, while the key represents Gibraltar’s strategic importance – the key to the Mediterranean.

Flag courtesy of the CIA World Factbook

Map courtesy of the CIA World Factbook

Google Earth

Some of the old defenses on The Rock of Gibraltar.

Photo courtesy of the CIA World Factbook

Last updated on April 18, 2024


According to Britannica, Gibraltar is an overseas territory of the United Kingdom and is self-governing in all matters but defense. Its constitution was established by the Gibraltar Constitution Order in 1969, which provided for a House of Assembly consisting of the speaker (appointed by the governor), 15 members elected to four-year terms, and 2 ex-officio members. (A new Constitution Order was approved by referendum in November 2006 and was implemented in January 2007; it renamed the House of Assembly as the Gibraltar Parliament and increased its number of members to 17.) In 1981 Gibraltarians were granted full British citizenship. Gibraltarians age 18 or older and British civilians resident for more than six months are entitled to vote. The governor, appointed by the British sovereign, is the head of the executive Gibraltar Council and appoints the Council of Ministers, composed of the chief minister and other ministers, from the party or coalition of parties that gains a majority of seats in the Gibraltar Parliament. Instead of a city council, one minister is responsible for municipal affairs.

Civil / National Aviation Authority (CAA/NAA)

The Office of the Director of Civil Aviation was established by the Civil Aviation Act 2009 on 29th January 2009. The purpose of this act is identified as An act to make provision generally for the regulation of civil aviation (save for aviation security) in Gibraltar; to provide for the management and control of the commercial and civil use of the airport and of the air terminal and aircraft using its facilities; and for connected purposes. The Director of Civil Aviation reports to the Minister for Aviation for the discharge of his duties and functions under the act.


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ICAO countries publish an Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP). This document is divided into three parts: General (GEN), En Route (ENR) and Aerodromes (AD). ENR 1.4 details the types of airspace classes they chose to adopt from classes A through G.

Drone Regulations

Drone Laws

Small Unmanned Aircraft with or without Surveillance Equipment

The growth of the Small Unmanned Aircraft 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 “toy”, Small Unmanned Aircraft, 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, Small Unmanned Aircraft 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 a Small Unmanned Aircraft is fully responsible for the safe operation of any flight.

As all of Gibraltar is considered a highly congested area, Small Unmanned Aircraft, including those under 250 gms, cannot be flown in Gibraltar without the permission of the Director of Civil Aviation. While this may seem somewhat draconian, 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.

To gain the DCA’s permission to fly anywhere, other than the four coastal flight zones where flights are only permitted over the sea, applicants will be required to prove that they have successfully attended a recognized piloting course, have adequate insurance to cover the activity they are undertaking and have considered, and mitigated, all risks associated with the flight.  In the four coastal flight zones of Caleta Bay, Sandy Bay, Europa Point and Rosia Bay where flights are only permitted over the sea, the requirement to have attended a recognized piloting course is removed; however all the other requirements mentioned above remain the same.

The Director of Civil Aviation commented “That while buying such equipment is easy, it must be remembered that a small unmanned aircraft 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 Vehicles 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 contacts the Civil Aviation Office at dca@gibraltar.gov.gi to receive advice on the limitations to its use in Gibraltar.

All Gibraltar drone operators need to be registered and drones will be issued with a registration mark.  The following documents detail the processes to be followed to register as a drone operator and the charges this will incur:

Flying Drones – Registration Requirements

Registration Application Form

Drone operators visiting Gibraltar, who wish to fly their drone, 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 if wishing to fly anywhere other than the four coastal flight zones, they will need to prove they have an EU specific category license, or equivalent.

Frequently Asked Questions


What is the correct terminology to use for these aircraft?

In Gibraltar Legislation the following terms are used: Small Unmanned Aircraft (SUA) Small Unmanned Surveillance Aircraft (SUSA) – i.e. an SUA with a camera attached. These terms have superseded the earlier terminology of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). However, these aircraft are more commonly known by the public as “drones” and throughout this document the term “drone” is used to describe a Small Unmanned Aircraft with a camera attached.

What is the definition of a drone?

For legal purposes a drone is defined as a small unmanned aircraft which is equipped to undertake any form of surveillance or data acquisition. Similarly, a small unmanned aircraft is defined as any unmanned aircraft, other than a balloon or kite, having a mass of not more than 25kg without its fuel but including any articles or equipment installed in or attached to the aircraft at the commencement of the flight.

Is it illegal to buy a drone for use in Gibraltar?

No it is not illegal to buy a drone for use in Gibraltar, but because of the vicinity of the Airport and the highly congested nature of the area in which we live, there are very strict limitations on their use.

Are there any limitations for buying a drone to use indoors?

From a legislation perspective there are no limitations on the use of a drone indoors.

Why have limitations been imposed on the use of drones in Gibraltar?

Normally in other parts of the world, these type of aircraft (model aircraft, helicopters and drones) can be flown for pleasure from private land, with the land owner’s permission and in locations well away from congested areas. There are however, safety distances that need to be observed and due to the congested nature of Gibraltar these safety distance cannot be met, therefore limitations have had to be imposed on the use of these aircraft.

What limitations have been imposed?

To ensure the safety of the general public and those flying in aircraft from the Airport, persons wishing to fly a drone for private use need to fulfill the same requirements as those wishing to use similar equipment for commercial purposes.

What are the requirements that need to be met to obtain permission to fly a drone outdoors in Gibraltar?

To fly a drone in Gibraltar you will need to provide the following information to the Director of Civil Aviation:

– Proof of insurance for the UAV, which provides cover for the activity to be undertaken;

– For persons wishing to fly outside of the coastal flight areas where flights are restricted to remaining over the sea, proof of the pilot’s competence to operate the equipment safely, such as a BNUC-S or RPQ pilot accreditation, or similar, will be acceptable:

– A map showing the planned route to be flown, together with a safety case demonstrating that consideration has been given to the safety risks of operating the drone in the areas chosen.

Where can I find out who can deliver acceptable pilot accreditation courses?

There are a number of courses approved by the UK and Spanish authorities to prove pilot competence and these would be acceptable – details can be found on the UK CAA and Spanish AESA websites.

What legislation applies to the flying of Drones?

Any route planned in Gibraltar would have to take into consideration the Gibraltar legislation on the subject, which is covered in the Civil Aviation (Air Navigation) Regulations 2009.

Summaries of the pertinent Articles are provided below;

Regulation 33, states that “Any person operating an aircraft shall not recklessly or negligently cause or permit an aircraft to endanger any person or property” and this applies equally to manned and unmanned aircraft.

Regulations 51 entitled “Small unmanned aircraft” amongst other limitations states the person in charge of the aircraft must:

– Consider all the safety risks involved in the flight.

– Keep the drone within sight at all times.

– Have the permission of ATC at Gibraltar Airport to fly.

– Not fly the drone higher than 400ft above ground level.

Regulation 51A entitled “Small unmanned surveillance aircraft” (i.e. a drone with a camera attached) amongst other limitations states the person in charge of the aircraft must not fly the aircraft without the Director of Civil Aviation’s permission if flying:

– Over or within 150m of a congested area or an open air assembly of more than 1,000 persons;

– Within 50m of any vessel, vehicle or structure not under the control of the person in charge of the aircraft;

– Within 50m of any person, although this can be reduced to 30m when taking-off or landing. This limitation does not apply to the person in charge of the aircraft or any assistants under their control.

Are drones covered by the Data Protection Act 2004?

If a drone has a camera, its use has the potential to be covered by the DPA. In particular, recognizable images captured by a small unmanned surveillance aircraft are personal data and are subject to the provisions of the DPA.

From a Data Protection perspective is it OK to use drones with cameras?

If you are using a drone with a camera, there could be a privacy risk to other people. Follow the tips below to help ensure you respect people’s privacy when using your drone.

What tips should I follow to avoid problems with the Data Protection Act?

Let people know before you start recording. In some scenarios this is going to be quite easy because you will know everyone within close view (for example, if you are taking a group photo at a family barbecue). In other scenarios, for example at the beach or the park, this is going to be much more difficult so you’ll need to apply some common sense before you start.

Consider your surroundings. If you are recording images beyond your home, a drone may intrude on the privacy of others where they expect their privacy to be respected (such as in their back garden). It is unlikely that you would want a drone to be hovering outside your window so be considerate to others and don’t hover outside theirs.

Get to know your camera first. It is a good idea to get to know the capability of your camera in a controlled situation to understand how it works. What is the quality of the image? How powerful is the zoom? Can you control when it starts and stops recording? Drone cameras are capable of taking unusual and creative pictures from original vantage points. Knowing the capabilities of your camera will help you to reduce the risk of privacy intrusion.

Plan your flight. Your drone’s battery life is likely to be short. By understanding its capabilities you will be able to make best use of its flight and it will be easier to plan how to avoid invading the privacy of other people. For example, it may be more privacy-friendly to launch from a different location rather than flying close to other people or their property.

Keep you and your drone in view. If you are clearly visible, say by wearing a high visibility vest, then it will be easier for members of the public to know that you are the person responsible for the drone.

Think before sharing. Once your drone has landed, think carefully about who’s going to be looking at the images, particularly if you’re thinking about posting them on social media. Avoid sharing images that could have unfair or harmful consequences. Apply the same common sense approach that you would with images or video recorded by a smartphone or digital camera.

Keep the images safe. The images you have taken may be saved on an SD card or USB drive attached to the drone or the camera. If they are not necessary, then don’t keep them. If you do want to keep them, then make sure they are kept in a safe place.

Should you need further information on any of the issues raised above then please contact either:

The Director of Civil Aviation – dca@gibraltar.gov.gi

The Office of Fair Trading – oft@gibraltar.gov.gi

The Gibraltar Regulatory Authority – info@gra.gi

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.

drone rules poster

Drone Rules poster


Advanced Air Mobility (AAM)


Short Essay Questions

Question 1

You have been hired by a Drone Startup Company. Your boss has immediately assigned this job to you.

They need you to prepare a one-page memo detailing the legalities of using a drone to film the Rock of Gibraltar, pictured above.

They need you to mention any national laws and local ordinances.

They specifically want to know what airspace you will be operating in and whether or not you need an airspace authorization.

Does it matter whether or not you are a citizen of the country?

Lastly, there is a bonus for you if, as you scroll through this chapter, you find any typos or broken links!

Question 2

Do you need a certificate to fly UAS?

If so, how do you obtain one?

Are there fees associated with this?

If so, how much?

Question 3

May you operate beyond visual line of sight?

If so, what procedures must you follow?

Question 4

Does the country have UAM/AAM laws? If so, describe, citing the exact law.

Question 5

Are you aware of any new laws or policies not mentioned above? If so, describe, citing the exact law or policy.





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Drones Across the World Copyright © 2023 by Sarah Nilsson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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