HawkLady Drone Solutions for Storytellers | 10 things you have to do if you want to fly a drone commercially in the Netherlands.
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10 things you have to do if you want to fly a drone commercially in the Netherlands.

Hawk Lady Drone Piloot

10 things you have to do if you want to fly a drone commercially in the Netherlands.

At this point, I realize there is a lot more to it than I thought. Partially due to the fact that I am navigating in a whole new world of play, and so, many things I come across I see for the first time, but also because a lot of things are still unclear, I feel.

Nevertheless, authorities are working hard to catch-up. Especially now the min-drone regulations are in effect.

So, here, in order of priority, 10 steps you have to take if you want to operate a drone (business) commercially in the Netherlands, class 1 – ROC (not mini-drone ROC Light)

  1. Successful flight medical Certificate LAPL
  2. If you want to receive your RPA-L (Remotely Piloted Aircraft – License) – and of course you do, then a flight medical exam is in order. There are variations, but for drone operators it’s the LAPL.

    In the Netherlands, not many doctors are certified to issue this certificate and you’ll find that the cost to get this done, greatly varies per doctor’s office. So, call around and see which suits you the best.

    Why is this one at the top of the list? Because you want to be sure you get this one. If not, you will not be eligible to receive your drone operator certificate and you will have paid for your training for nothing! If you have extended medical insurance, the cost of this medical exam will be reimbursed.

  3. Theoretical Training for RPA-L
  4. At the moment, there are two recognized institutions in the Netherlands that are certified to provide theoretical and practical trainings and exams. You’ll recognize them by their label “Registered Training Facility, RTF” and they are recognized by ILenT  (Inspectie Leefomgeving en Transport), the authority where all registrations and requests are submitted.

  5. Practical training flying a drone
  6. This part generally consists of flying with and without gps, working together with your observer, doing risk analysis and recognizing weather- and cloud patterns (at least during my training at Syntra Limburg).

    Here the same counts as for the theoretical training: the practical training will be recognized as valid as long as (and only if) it’s done by one of the RTF instututions.

  7. Getting your own RPAS
  8. Having/getting your drone (if you haven’t already done so) is, of course, desired. All drones used commercially, have to be registered at the Luchtvaart Register (Aviation Registry) via ILenT. You’ll then receive a licence plate number, just like for a car.

    Should you wish to purely operate as a pilot (Pilot in Command) and not use your own drone(s), then registering is not applicable, obviously. Getting-in your flight hours with a drone and simulator, however, you still have to make happen!

  9. Registration at Aviation Registry
  10. All aircraft with a commercial purpose are registered at the Aviation Registry. You’ll receive a licence plate number for your drone. Once you have that, you can take the following steps:

  11. RPAS insurance (liability and hull)
  12. Without insurance you shouldn’t be flying. You may have noticed already that it’s not easy to find an insurance company that also covers drones for commercial use in the Netherlands.

    As an operator/company, you are required to get liability insurance for the use of your drone. Hull is optional. There are a few companies in the Netherlands that offer the appropriate insurance. See ‘handy links’ for the insurance company I use.

  13. Technical inspection RPAS
  14. Just like a car, an aircraft has to undergo a technical inspection before participating in traffic. Currently, a drone doesn’t have an Airworthiness Certificate, so you have to get one for your drone. This is a fairly costly proposition. However, if you wish to operate under the banner of your business, this is a prerequisite. The technical inspection contains the following elements:

    • Documentation check
    • Ground inspection
    • Flight inspection


    Both RTF institutions offer assistance with the technical inspection process. Close communication with the manufacturer of your drone is an important element of this.

  15. Acquisition Certificate of Airworthiness (BvL)
  16. Your drone has now undergone the technical inspection, which has been successful, so now you are eligible to submit for and acquire the Proof of Airworthiness from ILenT.

  17. Approved Operations Manual
  18. You’re almost there! As a business, so says ILenT, you also have to show how you operate the drone segment of your business. For this, an Operations Manual is put together. Your RTF will help you with this. It’s not a small task and everyone taking part in your business will have to be informed and trained in the processes that fit their responsibilities. You may be tested on this, out of the blue, of course, all in the name of “safety assurance”.

  19. Acquisition RPAS Operator Certificate (ROC)

This is the final step. With all previous steps completed, you can now submit for and acquire the RPAS Operator Certificate (ROC) from ILenT. When you have received this, you may fly drones commercially :-D

Count on 6 months to a year to go through all the processes, from your training to approved documentation. Price tag: around €12,000.  

So, to clarify, if all went according to plan, you should have:

  1. Flight Medical Certificate LAPL
  2. Theoretical Training
  3. Practical Training
  4. RPA-L Pilot Licence (upon completion of your theory and practical training)
  5. Drone
  6. Registration at Aviation Registry
  7. RPAS insurance (liability and hull)
  8. Technical inspection RPAS
  9. Certificate of Airworthiness (BvL)
  10. Approved Operations Manual
  11. Acquisition RPAS Operator Certificate (ROC)


Handy links


Hawk Lady

Aerial footage for promotions, commercials and documentaries:

Think about nature conservation areas, industrial heritage sites, castles, outdoor recreation areas, travel destinations, vegetable and fruit cultivation areas. Everything that is away from congested areas, really, can in combination with ground perspectives be highlighted beautifully.


Hawk Lady pilot Hedwig Schipperheijn is Holland’s first certified female drone pilot who offers solutions as a filmmaker to companies wanting to share their story in a remarkable way.

Want to know more? Read: 3 reason why a pilot licence is required.

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