Open category

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Switzerland is adopting EU drone regulation on 1 January 2023

The open category governs the operation of drones generally flown without authorisation from the FOCA. The open category is divided into three sub-categories: A1, A2, A3. The vast majority of drones are operated in the open category. This page highlights the key points to bear in mind.

Not new but important points:

  • I am aware of the area restrictions
  • I always keep visual contact with my drone
  • I do not fly over assemblies of people
  • I respect the privacy of other people
  • I have sufficient insurance cover 

1. I have registered

Registration is mandatory for all drone pilots. Exception: The drone weighs less than 250g and is not equipped with a camera, sensor or any other kind of device for recording personal data.

2. I complete the training and take an examination appropriate to my sub-category

If I fly a drone that weighs over 250g I am required to complete training and take an examination via UAS.gate. The scope and format of the training and examination depend on the sub-category (A1, A2, A3) in which I fly my drone. Certificates issued on the official platform UAS.gate before the EU drone regulation entered into force in Switzerland remain valid. Pilots will be able to download an updated version of the certificate with the EU logo in their UAS.gate profile from around February 2023.

Category Class Weight Training Safety distance
A1 C0 <250g Not
required

Flying over people

  • May fly over uninvolved people (should be avoided when possible)
  • Flying over assemblies of people prohibited
A1 C0,
C1
<900g A1/A3

Flying over people

  • Assess the area and reasonably expect that no uninvolved persons will be overflown
  • Flying over assemblies of people prohibited
A2 C2 <4kg A1/A3
+ A2

Flying close to people

  • No flying over uninvolved people
  • Horizontal distance to uninvolved persons at least according to the 1:1 rule, i.e. 40m distance when the drone is flying at 40m height. Minimums:
    1. Without low speed mode: 30m
    2. With activated low speed mode (<3m/s): 5m
A3 C2,
C3,
C4
<25kg A1/A3

Flying far from people

  • Horizontal distance to uninvolved people, greater value of:
    1. According to 1:1 rule with minimum 30m
    2. Distance covered in 2s (reaction time) with max speed
  • Fly outside of urban areas: Minimum horizontal distance of 150m from residential/commercial/industrial and recreational areas 

3. I meet the minimum age requirement

I am at least 12 years old or fly my drone under the supervision of an accompanying person who is at least 16 years of age and has the required skills.

4. I keep the minimum horizontal distance from uninvolved persons

When I fly a drone, I must keep a minimum horizontal distance from persons who are not involved in the flight. The distance depends on the sub-category (A1, A2, A3) in which I fly my drone (see point 2).

5. Maximum flight altitude of 120m above ground level

A maximum flight altitude of 120m above ground level now applies in the open category. Authorisation must be obtained from the FOCA to fly higher.

6. I fly a compliant drone

My drone must bear a class identification label (C0, C1, C2, C3, C4) and a CE marking:

  • If my drone does not bear the class identification label, transitional provisions will apply to me with slightly more restrictive rules.
  • A drone purchased without a CE marking cannot be flown (exception: The drone is self-built).

Further information

Last modification 09.01.2023

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