Drones could soon be forced to have electronic NUMBER PLATES

Tackling the ‘Wild West’ in the sky: Drones could soon be forced to have electronic NUMBER PLATES so they can be tracked by police as they fly through the skies

  • Drones being used in the UK will need to have remote ID technology soon
  • The rules to help with security are expected to come into place by April 1 2026 
  • It comes as plans were revealed for a network of drone ‘superhighways’

Drones could soon be forced to have electronic number plates so they can be tracked by police and security teams as they fly through the skies.

The plans are part of new regulations being drawn up by the Government that would allow a drone’s speed, location, height, take-off point to be tracked – as well as the operator’s location. 

To collect the information, remote ID technology will be installed in the drones, working in a similar way to the automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) system used on cars, vans and lorries. 

The move comes amid growing concern that the UK’s drone registration scheme is not being enforced properly, as well as fears that drones could be used by terrorists to cause serious harm or economic damage.

Drones could soon be forced to have electronic number plates so they can be tracked by police and security teams as they fly through the skies

According to the Civil Aviation Authority, anyone with a drone weighing more than 250g needs to pass a test and get a flyer ID from the authority.

The test is completely free and available online.

It also has a number of key rules, based on the risk of flight, such as where you fly, the proximity to people and the size and weight of your drone.

The key rules are:  

  • Never fly more than 400ft (120m) above the ground 
  • Always keep your done or model aircraft in sight
  • Never fly in an airport’s flight restriction zone unless you have permission

Source: Civil Aviation Authority  

Before flying most drones or model aircrafts outdoors in the UK, users are expected to register the device.

But there are concerns that a large number of drones do not have the proper technology to enforce the registration.

One source told the Telegraph the situation was like ‘the Wild West’.

A report by PwC last year found that more than 900,000 drones could be in the UK’s skies by 2030, with 650,000 jobs relating to a sector that relies on drones. 

Those within the Government are now hoping the aerial equivalent of an ANPR system will be added onto drones.

This would work in a similar way as ANPR cameras work to identify road users for breaking the law.

The Civil Aviation Authority commissioned a report to Murzilli Consulting in order to ‘develop a strategy for any future remote ID requirement for UK drone and remotely piloted services’.

Its CEO, Lorenzo Murzilli, said the Swiss U-space Implementation Program (SUSI) will work specifically focusing on setting up a partnership with government bodies and industries to find Remote ID solutions.

It is not a new concept – the US recently passed legislation for the system, with plans for the regulation to begin in September.

Government officials are believed to be working towards a deadline of April 1, 2026, to get the ID systems up and running in the UK, with plans to be announced in March.

Government officials are hoping to push through the new plans and have them implemented by April 1 2026

It comes as £8 million is being spent to deploy anti-drone detectors around nuclear plants, transport hubs, oil rigs and other sensitive infrastructure across the UK to protect them from aerial terrorist attacks.

The Home Office, which has been commissioned for the project, will also use the drone detectors at major public events, including the King’s Coronation and Eurovision contest in May.

The new security system will mean police are able to track any small or medium sized drone.

By using scanning technology, they are then able to spot potential threats even when they are not emitting a signal.

As a result, no-fly zones in the sky will be better policed, as well as high security areas such as prisons, military bases and royal palaces.

A Home Office spokesman said: ‘The Home Office works closely with police to ensure they can deter, detect and disrupt the misuse of drones and keep the public safe.

‘We are empowering the police and other operational responders through access to the latest advances in counter-drone capabilities, training, and appropriate legislative powers. 

‘However, it is a long-standing policy that we do not comment on security arrangements.’

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