River Thames Drone Filming


The use of drones and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in filming is becoming ever more popular, particularly on the River Thames, where it can often solve many logistical issues to get the perfect shot.

As the premier provider of River Thames filming services over the past 35 years, Livett’s have been at the forefront of the increasing use of drones and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for filming projects in the heart of London.

With more and more clients interested in deploying drones to capture spectacular footage of the capital, we have put together everything you need to know about using drones on the River Thames – including rules, permissions, services, appropriate vessels and much more.

Please note: Livett’s do not supply the drones themselves and we are unable to provide licences for drone filming. Recommended drone suppliers, information about how to successfully receive permissions from the Port of London Authority (PLA), and details about how our wraparound marine logistics services support drone operators with filming are detailed extensively below.

Who grants permission to use drones on the River Thames?

The tidal River Thames is the busiest inland waterway in the UK, used by a wide variety of boats and ships of all sizes 24/7, as well as the countless pedestrians and vehicles which use bridges, river crossings, densely populated embankments and riverside attractions. As such, the safe operation of any drone is absolutely paramount.

The Port of London Authority (PLA) is responsible for the safe operation and running of the River Thames. This includes approving the use of any drone or UAV which is deployed on, nearby, or crosses over the Thames – as per their drone/UAV guidelines.

How do I request permission to fly a drone on the River Thames?

Requests for permission to fly a drone on the River Thames must be submitted to the PLA’s Drone Online Notification Portal.

The PLA should be notified at the earliest possible opportunity (and no later than three working days before the planned drone flight) if you intend to use a drone for any reason on the river, including filming. This allows them to assess its impact on the river – including any exclusion zones and potential river closures – and ensure it is safe to carry out the flight.

Once the PLA is satisfied the drone will not cause a hazard to the public or navigation on the river, they will provide the necessary approval. However, some flights may require an additional filming licence or further controls to protect those using the river. If needed, this will be communicated to you during the application process.

Those looking to fly a drone over the River Thames must also ensure they comply with relevant legislation, codes of practice, and obtain permissions from other relevant authorities, including but not limited to:

  • Civil Aviation Authority
  • National Air Traffic Services
  • Relevant riparian (riverside) local authority and landowner consent where the drone flight and exclusion area will impact on adjacent land
  • Any necessary consents for flying in exclusion area(s) and/or near high-profile locations or structures
  • Metropolitan Police filming unit (in the central London area)

Livett’s River Thames drone filming services

Planning drone filming on the River Thames and seeking the necessary permissions may sound a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be.

Livett’s are experts in the application and coordination process for drone filming on the River Thames, having looked after dozens of high-profile drone projects from initial conception through to the filming itself.

We offer a turnkey River Thames drone filming service to make the entire process as simple and stress-free as possible. Key services include:

Advice on Permissions

Having worked on the biggest drone projects the River Thames has ever seen, we have extensive experience in gaining the necessary permissions to allow drones to be operated on the river.

Location Advice

Our knowledge of the River Thames and its surrounding areas is second to none, meaning we are perfectly placed to advise on ideal filming locations for whatever shot you’re looking to get.

Marine Coordination

We have over 35 years of experience in expert marine coordination on the River Thames and have coordinated some of the most technically complex stunt sequences ever on the river.

Boat Hire

We own and operate one of the largest fleets on the Thames, ranging from action and camera boats to luxury passenger vessels, tugs and pontoons – many of which are ideal drone platforms.

What vessels are suitable for drone filming on the River Thames?

Livett’s boast an extensive, versatile fleet of boats suitable for all requirements when filming on the river. This includes camera boats, safety boats, workboats and specialist craft.

Many of these vessels are perfectly suited to act as a platform to launch/land drones for filming on the Thames, and have been deployed as such for numerous projects in recent years.

Suitable vessels include:

Livett’s extensive River Thames drone filming experience

We have worked on dozens of drone filming projects, ranging from amateur photography requests through to major Hollywood blockbusters – and everything in between!

We are hugely proud to have been involved with some of the most prestigious drone filming jobs on the River Thames over the past 10 years. Recent work includes:

James Bond: Spectre

We have coordinated marine-based scenes on the Thames for several James Bond films, the most recent of which was Spectre. This included day and night drone filming for its dramatic Westminster Bridge scenes.

London New Year’s Eve Fireworks

We have arranged the safe and effective use of drones for filming the capital’s showpiece fireworks display on multiple occasions, ensuring audiences watching at home are able to enjoy a truly spectacular view.


EastEnders marked its 35th anniversary with a dramatic sequence on the River Thames featuring a sinking boat. We coordinated all relevant marine scenes, including the deployment of drones for top-down filming.

Now You See Me 2

Our marine filming coordination team oversaw the production of several stunning drone scenes in a variety of locations for this blockbuster movie – including Tower Bridge, the London Eye and Tilbury Docks.

Recommended drone operators on the River Thames

Livett’s work with several trusted partners for drone filming on the River Thames, each of whom specialises in certain aspects to ensure every shoot goes off perfectly to plan and without incident. These include:

Flying Pictures

Flying Pictures is the world leader in the provision of helicopter and drone filming services for feature films, television, commercials and live broadcast events.

The Helicopter Girls

Established 2011, The Helicopter Girls specialise in the use of cutting-edge UAV and stabilisation technologies to craft close aerials for major film and television productions.

Maritime Filming

With a background in producing top quality marine aerial footage, Maritime Filming own and operate state-of-the-art drones designed for filming at sea.

Solent Sky Services

Solent Sky Services are CAA-certified drone pilots and filmmakers with permissions for professional commercial operations in the UK and overseas.

Helicopter Film Services

Helicopter Film Services take your filming to a new level of creativity, innovation and professionalism with world-class aerial crews and equipment.

Steve Peters Films

Steve is a drone pilot and operator who boasts a 20-year background in broadcast television, working on commercials, features, promos and live sports.

Enquire about Livett’s River Thames drone filming services

Whether you’re looking for more information about drone filming on the River Thames, or would like to find out how we can bring your project to life, we would be delighted to help.

You can contact our expert marine coordination team via phone (020 7378 1211), email (info@livetts.co.uk) or by using the contact form.

We look forward to hearing from you!