Do I need a PfCO to use a drone for my work?

Hi am a local surveyor and need to catch people doing unauthorised works- would i need a commercial licence to use the drone in public places for M mini 2 etc

Your bigger issue would be overfyling people and property - commercial or not

Are you working for a local planning authority or a private interest?

Either way you will require CAA authorisation both to operate commercially and for your intended flights.

Working off a hunch probably wouldn’t qualify.

Hi people who do loft works or outbuilding works without consent from LA.

hi yes local authority

I’d start off by reading this and then decide if you want to take it further.

If you try to side step the regulations, especially while in a authoritative capacity, you will leave yourself and the department open to a whole world of hurt.


Thank you Nidge

From January you can fly your Mini 2 without commercial qualifications, pretty much anywhere you want so long as you don’t endanger anyone or trespass. Flying at height from the public highway should be ok in many circumstances. If it’s part of your employment you should still get training (A2 CofC or GVC) not because it’s legally necessary, but to ensure professionalism. And check that the council’s insurance covers you properly so you are not personally liable when things go wrong.


really i didn’t know this Thank you so much- i will buy one then as i need a small drone.

1 Like

If i remember correctly the CAA charge £1k + for a general exemption as well.
I may be wrong as it’s a while since I read about it.

1 Like

And if you’re doing it on behalf of a local authority I’d be asking them to fund any training and insurance you might need, they can only say ‘no’.


I would be concerned if a Local authority started to use drones for surveillance of private properties. Data protection and lots of other regulations are involved. Also if it is LA use why do you need to buy one, let the LA purchase it.

1 Like

I’m not sure it’s any different to them purchasing commercial aerial photography or looking on Google maps, but yes, there’s definitely scope for it to be intrusive and their privacy/data protection manager will need to clear it.


Hi may I ask where you got this information from, as am I âme to locate it. Thanks

Take a look at the EASA thread

1 Like

It appears the short answer is “yes”. But you can always just pick up the phone and ask an LA that’s already doing it…

I have never heard of a surveyor spying, they usually just physically go on site :thinking:
Personally I think you are on very dodgy grounds. Other than the threat of collisions with drones, spying/surveillance is considered a threat by the public.
This link might help regarding your question.


To me it smacks of over reaching, or are the number of curtain twitching informants on the decline.

I will admit I don’t have very much time for Local Authority Planning representatives.


I had a telescopic antenna mast at the rear of my property, it had been in situ for some 15 years. When retracted, as it was most of the time, it was no higher than the side of the garage to which it was fixed and could not be seen from any other property. One day I get a knock on the door and it’s a planning officer. She starts off by saying they have received complaints about the antenna and if I don’t remove it immediately I will be prosecuted. So I ask what kind of complaints. She replies that I’m causing interference to TV’s. I then inform her that EMC concerns are not the remit of the planning authority and if she’s genuine about the allegation she should refer it to OFCOM. This really knocks the wind out of her sails and so she now claims it’s a health hazard. I ask how? She replies it causes cancer. :scream::scream::scream::scream::scream::scream:

I then inform her that I applied for planning permission 15yrs ago, she would have been 8 or 9 years old then, and I received written confirmation that due to the retractable capability of the mast permission was not required. I then politely asked her to leave.

Five minutes later I receive a phone call from her supervisor. He tells me he has photographs of my mast. I ask him how he acquired these photos. He tells me he took them himself with his phone. Obviously in order to take these photos he would have to have known that nobody was home, entered onto my property, scaled a locked gate to get to the rear of my property, as the mast was not visible from anywhere else.

My point is that as hobbyists and commercial users of drones we have a hard enough time of receiving negative opinions from the general public at large. But to have this technology deployed in such a way based on a tip-off from a disgruntled nimby in my mind is a step too far.

Oh, and I found out why the planning authority were so interested in my mast. The complainant was someone I knew. I repaired some electronic kit for him but he didn’t want to pay for the cost of the parts I had bought to fix it, so I took the parts out and gave him back his radio. In retaliation he made a complaint to the LA. It didn’t matter that he lived 15 miles away.


The law is currently changing, and after 1/1/21 the PFCO is replaced with a GVC qualification
I have just applied and been approved by the CAA under PFCO, and the GVC is more onerous, but easily achievable
I would suggest you contact 3iC to undergo their training / practical flight test, after which you can apply to CAA for final approval
Based on the training / insurance and CAA application the whole thing will cost you around £1000

1 Like

Currently a race to the bottom on the training front , I’ve seen GVC course for as little as £379

1 Like