Drones and SIA Licensing

If you're using a drone (unmanned aerial vehicle) to watch or record video for security purposes, then you may need a Security Industry Authority (SIA) licence.

This page explains which licence you'll need if you use drones to perform activities that are licensable under the Private Security Industry Act 2001.

This information is intended as general guidance. It's not possible for us to cover all situations in which drones may be used. You should seek independent legal advice if you're in any doubt as to whether your specific circumstances require you to hold an SIA licence.

When you need a front line licence

A drone will usually produce a video feed that is viewed live by someone in another location, or is recorded and then viewed later.

You need a Public Space Surveillance (CCTV) licence if all of the following statements are true:

  1. You use CCTV to watch members of the public or to identify particular individuals.
  2. You use CCTV to guard against disorder or to protect individuals from assault*.
  3. Your services are supplied under contract to a client.

You need an SIA licence if all of the following statements are true. This could be for public space surveillance (CCTV), close protection, door supervision or security guarding.

  1. You use CCTV to watch members of the public or to identify particular individuals.
  2. You use CCTV to identify a trespasser or protect property*.
  3. Your services are supplied under contract to a client.

*This includes the use of CCTV to deter these things from happening, or to provide information about them if they do happen.

You still need an SIA licence even if the CCTV footage you are viewing is from a camera mounted on a drone.

When you need a non-front line licence

You need a non-front line licence if:

  • You won't personally be doing the activity described above, but will be managing or supervising people who will.
  • You're a partner or director in a company using drones for such purposes.

When you don't need a licence

You don't need an SIA licence if you are using a drone and:

  • You don't watch the footage from the drone.
  • You only watch footage from the drone in order to pilot it.

Further information

For more information and guidance on regulations and the use of drones visit the Civil Aviation Authority website- this link opens in a new window.