Italy: Italy To Issue Fresh Regulations On Commercial Drones

Last Updated: 4 April 2014
Article by Yan Pecoraro


The unmanned aircraft systems industry is growing rapidly; drones have a wide range of potential civilian and scientific uses, including law-enforcement and traffic monitoring, but so far they have been overwhelmingly used for military purposes such as reconnaissance and combat operations.

Technological developments as well as decreased operating costs will likely boost the use of unmanned aircraft systems for commercial purposes such as industrial/agricultural monitoring, video surveillance, commercial deliveries (Jeff Bezos, chief executive officer of Inc. recently declared that the world's largest e-commerce company "is testing drones to deliver goods [...] to improve efficiency and speed in getting products to consumers;" DHL has also posted some pictures of its test of delivery-drones), while many further uses will be identified based on how and to what extent drone technology improves.

The opportunities presented by the drone industry have also attracted significant investment. According to data provided to Bloomberg News by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association in November 2013, US venture investors poured USD40.9 million into drone-related startups in the first nine months of 2013, more than double the amount for all of 2012, and several EU countries are seen as potentially interested in backing an "European military drone program" which could be regarded as the first step in subsequent investments in R&D for commercial drones. The increased use of drones inevitably raises several issues from a legal perspective: privacy law, torts law, insurance law, civil aviation regulations and many other areas of law could be relevant to the operation of drones. The technology for drones is (almost) here, but government regulations around the world are not always up to speed.

To date few authorities around the world have thoroughly regulated the commercial use of drones, but the increasing interest in the industry has led some civil aviation authorities to issue guidelines, roadmaps and regulations. In the US the Federal Aviation Administration has recently published a roadmap for the integration of civil unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system and has selected six test sites where different groups will test how to integrate drones into US airspace. In Europe some civil aviation authorities, including the Italian Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC) have issued regulations applicable to commercial drones.


ENAC has recently published a regulation (the "Regulation") setting forth the general conditions under which unmanned aircraft systems falling under its jurisdiction can be operated for commercial purposes in Italy; the Regulation was expected to become effective on February 17, 2014 but, given the large amount of requests for clarifications received, as well as applications for licenses filed with the authority, ENAC decided to postpone the effective date until April 30, 2014.

The Regulation is still under the scrutiny of ENAC, which has anticipated that it will review the Regulation taking into account comments received from operators and manufacturers. That being said, an analysis of the Regulation provides a general understanding of the Italian legal framework on commercial drones.


So, what is a drone according to ENAC? Drones falling under the jurisdiction of ENAC are unmanned aircraft systems (known in Italian as "Sistemi di Aeromobili a Pilotaggio Remoto - in short SAPR") with a takeoff weight lower than 150kg and flown outdoors by a remotely based "pilot."

By and large ENAC has set two standards of regulations: a first and more flexible set of rules applicable to drones with a takeoff weight lower than 25kg ("Light Drones") and stricter rules applicable to drones with a takeoff weight higher than 25kg ("Heavy Drones").

The Regulation provides for two different levels of authorizations to operate Light and Heavy Drones; the required authorization varies based on the weight as well as the actual use of the drone.

Under certain conditions, Light Drones could be operated based on self-certification (attesting that the drone complies with the Regulation) filed with ENAC along with some technical documents; certain uses of Light Drones with a high level of risk, as well as any use of Heavy Drones, require formal certification issued by ENAC following a technical review of the drone. Furthermore, Heavy Drones must be registered with ENAC and are subject to the applicable flying rules issued by ENAC.

Every drone must be identified by two identical labels applied to the drone and the operating system respectively.

Different rules may also apply depending on where a drone flies; flying a drone in "V70" air space (as defined by the Regulation) does not require authorization to use the air space, while flying a drone in "V150" air space (as defined by the Regulation), or within a radius of 8km of an airport, requires authorization from ENAC to use the air space.

Under article 17 of the Regulation pilots of drones must be at least 18 years old, have knowledge of the applicable air rules, have specific knowledge of how to operate an unmanned aircraft system (the manufacturer or other authorized entities could issue a certificate for this purpose) and be certified by an M.D. as being in good health. While this requirement could be self-declared by pilots of Light Drones used in non-critical conditions, pilots of Heavy Drones must obtain a specific authorization issued by ENAC after appropriate medical tests.


The operating system must be equipped with radio systems enabling the pilot to communicate with air traffic controllers, as well as a transponder to fly a drone in uncontrolled air space.

To avoid out of control flights and damage on the ground, the Regulation grants ENAC the right to require the installation of specific features onto the drone, such as navigation lights and systems allowing the pilot to remotely cancel the flight safely. In addition, the data link between the drone and the controlling station must not interfere with other frequencies and it is the operator's responsibility to apply for a license (if any) to use the radio frequency.


Under article 21 of the Regulation, anyone flying a drone must hold insurance providing a maximum guaranteed coverage at least equal to that indicated in Article 7 of EU regulation no. 785/2004.

In this respect, the Regulation has overtaken insurance providers as to date one of the issues faced by an operator desiring to fly a drone in Italy has been the lack of adequate insurance products.


Finally, it is worth noting an area of law which could be particularly relevant when flying a drone: privacy. Drones are frequently equipped with cameras, recording devices and on-board memory storage which potentially allow them to collect and process a substantial amount of personal data. In this respect the Regulation does not introduce new rules in Italy, but only requires the operator to comply with the applicable data-protection laws and regulations issued by the data protection authority. To date the Italian data protection authority has not issued any regulation, nor carried out any investigation, on drones. However, with the future increase in drone flights in Italy, there is a high chance that the data protection issues connected with the operation of drones will be investigated by the Italian data protection authority.

It somewhat difficult at this stage to predict the outcome of such an investigation; the outcomes of the Italian data protection authority's investigation of Google Street View in Italy back in 2010 (please see press release) could be seen as the most relevant precedent applicable to privacy issues connected with drones.


As we have stated, the technology is here, but the laws are not up to speed and will require some fine-tuning in view of the future increase in the number of commercial drones in Italy; in addition to the regulations specifically dedicated to drones, operators will need to deal with several other areas of law which might apply to drones flying in Italy.


1 The operation of drones for military purposes is generally subject to the jurisdiction of military authorities.

2 A translation for convenience is available at

3 Back in 2012 ENAC regulated the operation of drones for experimental purposes; this first set of rules had a very limited scope of application.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Mondaq Advice Centre (MACs)
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.