iRed, a supplier of drones based in Emsworth, is warning people that the new laws mean they might not be able to legally fly their Christmas presents.
The rules mean pilots will need to complete a certificate of competency to allow them to fly a drone weighing more than 250g in most locations.
With drones a big seller this Christmas because they can be used while other hobbies are banned due to Covid restrictions, there are likely to be many who will fall foul of the law.
iRed said most people were unaware of the new laws, and breaching them could land them with a criminal record and a £1,000 fine.
Ray Faulkner, managing director and a former airline pilot, said: ‘With everything that’s gone on in 2020 it’s no surprise that these new rules are not well known about.
‘Many people will be getting drones and model aircraft as Christmas presents, which from January 1 will all have to be registered if they weigh more than 250g.
‘It will also be illegal for drone pilots to fly them within 150 metres of other people or in commercial, industrial or recreational areas unless they pass the qualification.
‘This means parks and beaches and other common areas to fly drones won’t be available to them.’
Achieving the certificate means pilots can take their drones within 50 metres of other people and buildings.
From January 1 the Civil Aviation Authority is adopting the new EASA regulations, which requires drone pilots to have the A2 Certificate of Competency.
It is a qualification that takes seven hours of e-learning and teaches the correct way to fly.
Ray added: ‘Unless someone has access to a large area of private land, they will need to have the certificate.
‘With drones becoming more advanced and more common the regulations will become tighter, and it’s far better to get on the right side of the law now.’
He said the rules also apply to children. He added that iRed is offering a £99 deal in January. Go to ired.co.uk