Storyhunter Guide to Commercial Drone Regulations Around the World
As drones have rapidly risen into popularity, countries are quickly trying to adjust to the safety and security threats they can impose. From banning drones altogether to requiring a pilot’s license, new laws and regulations are constantly going into effect or changing. Here is our guide to the current regulations on drones around the world.*
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS), Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), or Remotely Piloted Vehicles (RPVs) all basically mean the same thing: drones. However, drones can also be model aircraft or military weapons. In this guide, we define drones as remote-controlled quadcopters with a video camera attached.
Commercial or Hobby
Drones with cameras that are used for aerial work like photography and filming are generally considered to be ‘commercial’ drones. This means that the operator intends to profit from the work while a hobbyist flies for private use or recreation. Most countries with drone laws have different regulations based on whether the drone is being flown for a hobby or for profit.
Hobby drones usually have much lighter restrictions on their use while commercial drone regulations can get complex and depend on drone weight and flight altitude. Countries with drone regulations often require commercial drone operators to have a pilot’s license or written permission from the local government.
The regulations in this guide are for commercial drone operators — journalists, filmmakers, videographers, photographers, and others who intend to profit from their work, or take images and video that is not purely for personal use.
No matter whether you are in a regulated or unregulated country, when it comes to flying your drones, there are certain safety tips and common regulations that you should follow.
- Keep your drone’s take-off weight under 25kg (55lbs). (There are often added restrictions to drones over 25kg.)
- Maintain visual line-of-sight.
- Keep your drone away from crowds.
- Fly your drone in the daytime.
- Yield right of way to other aircraft.
- Don’t rely on your drone camera’s first-person view.
- Don’t fly your drone higher than 100m (~330ft).
- Keep your drone at least 8km (5 miles) away from airports.
- Conduct a preflight inspection of your drone to make sure it’s safe to fly.
- Don’t fly around government buildings, prisons, power plants, or other sensitive locations.
- Make a precise flight plan.
- Contact the local aviation authority of where you plan to fly if their rules are not clear.
FAA Drone Laws in the United States
Under new FAA regulations, drones flown for commercial purposes must be registered and the operator must have a remote pilot’s certificate. Here is what you need to know before flying and filming:
- Take-off weight must be under 55 lbs (25kg).
- Drones must be registered here.
How To Get A Remote Pilot License:
- Be at least 16 years old and able to read, write, and speak English.
- Be in mental and physical condition to safely fly a drone.
- Schedule, take, and pass the initial aeronautical knowledge test at a Knowledge Testing Center.
- Complete the FAA Integrated Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application.
- Undergo a TSA security background check.
- Receive your remote pilot certificate in the mail after the FAA processing is complete.
- Keep your license up-to-date by passing a recurrent knowledge test every two years.
- Already have a pilot’s license? Follow these instructions.
- Your drone must stay in Class G airspace, less than 1,200ft (365m) above the ground.
- Keep your drone in visual line-of-sight.
- Don’t fly above 400ft (~120m).
- Don’t fly at night.
- Don’t fly over 100mph.
- Yield to manned aircraft.
- Don’t fly over people.
- Don’t fly from a moving vehicle.
- Apply for waivers if you need to operate beyond these rules.
Countries without specific drone laws:
Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Armenia, Aruba, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Dominica, East Timor, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Greece, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Honduras, Kazakhstan, Kiribati, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Mozambique, Micronesia, Nauru, Niger, Pakistan, Palau, Palestinian Territories, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Portugal, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Sint Maarten, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Suriname, Syria, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Yemen, Zambia
Countries that ban commercial drones:
Argentina, Brazil, Brunei, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Morocco, Nicaragua, Nigeria, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan
Countries that require drone operators to have a pilot license, certificate, or permit:
Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Bermuda, Botswana, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Canada, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Fiji, France, Ghana, Hong Kong, Hungary, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Namibia, Netherlands, Oman, Panama, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Rwanda, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Zimbabwe
Countries with exceptions and permission requirements:
Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry recently restricted the media from flying drone cameras in sensitive areas like government and military facilities. Other restrictions are unknown.
While regulations seem to vary depending on drone weight and pilot experience, drones must generally meet the same safety and operational standards as manned aircraft.
Barbados has banned importing drones until April 1, 2017. However, drone operators already there who want to fly commercially must send an application to the Permanent Secretary, Defense and Security, Prime Minister’s Office and have a telecommunications radio-controlled license.
After the government banned drones in 2015, they’re now allowing drone operators to register their drones and apply for a “Permit to Fly.”
Flying drones is banned without approval in the capital, Penom Penh. However, drone use isn’t prohibited throughout the rest of the country and the sale and purchase of drones is still permitted.
Drone operators flying as a hobby must get a license, permit, and register their drones. At this time, flying for commercial use is banned, except on a case-by-case basis.
Drone operators must submit flight plans at least fifteen days before they plan to fly to the State Geodetic Administration.
No license or permit is required, but drones must weigh less than 25kg.
Drone operators must give advance notice of their flight to the Finnish Transport Safety Agency and the drone must be marked with the operator’s name and contact information.
Follow European Aviation Safety Agency regulations.
Drone operators must apply to local police for permission with the details about their flight.
Drones must be registered with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.
Drone operators must apply to the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority with the details of their flight and receive written permission before flying.
Drones are not permitted in Bessastaðir, the presidential residence, police stations, prisons, and Þingvellir National Park. Drone operators need special permission to fly over densely populated areas.
Drone operators must apply for a unique identification number for their drone, have pilot training, and notify local authorities before and after the flight.
Drone operators must register their drones with the Irish Aviation Authority. They do not need permission to fly commercially as long as they are flying within the IAA’s regulations.
Commercial drone operators may require a license, but it was unclear in the translation of their Civil Aviation Authority’s site. There are many no-fly zones in Israel that could put operators at risk if their drone gets too close.
Drone operators need to register their drones and may require a pilot’s license or certification depending on the weight and use of their drone.
Drones are banned from flying over government facilities, in most cities, and in parks. Police are authorized to destroy drones if they are not following regulations.
Drone operators must apply for permission to fly from the Jordan Aviation Authority.
It appears to be illegal to use drones commercially at the moment, but there may be new proposals underway that would require registration and licenses or permits.
While it is not clear if it is a law yet, Latvia may require drone operators to register their drones.
Drones cannot be operated within 500 meters of any government buildings, public gatherings, or protests.
Drones under 2kg don’t require a permit, but must stay over 5 miles away from airports. Drones between 2 to 25kg require a permit, and drones over 25kg require a permit and a pilot’s license.
If not enacted already, a new law will soon be passed requiring drones to be registered.
Operators must have permission from the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal to fly their drones for aerial work.
Drone operators do not need a license if their drone is under 15kg, but may need one if it is between 15 to 25kg. Drones over 25kg are not permitted.
Drone operators with drones that are over 2.5kg must have a license to operate.
Their regulations are being drafted and are pending.
Drone operators must receive permission from the Civil Aviation Authority before being permitted to fly.
Drones over 250 grams must be registered.
Samoa follows New Zealand’s drone laws.
Zones where drones are allowed to fly are severely limited and commercial drones may need to be registered.
Regulations are pending and it is unclear whether they are being enforced yet. The Sri Lanka Aviation Authority’s drone webpage does not work.
Witches are prohibited from flying over 150m high on their broomsticks, but the actual drone regulations are unclear.
Drone operators with drones that weigh over 30kg need to get approval from the Federal Office of Civil Aviation. However, no permits or licenses are required if the drone is under 30kg.
Drones over 15kg are regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority and drones under 15kg are regulated by local governments.
Drones are banned in all of Tanzania’s national parks.
Drones over 500 grams must be registered and operators whose drones are over 25kg must have a license from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.
Drones must be registered and operators must have security clearance from the General Civil Aviation Authority before flying a drone with a camera.
*This is a constantly evolving list. Please leave us a comment or send us a message if your country has changed their laws, or if we have misunderstood them, so that we may update our guide.
Originally published at storyhunter.com.