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Are you planning to travel? You might want to know the limits regarding flying drones in the destination country. It can be frustrating and shocking to learn that drones are illegal soon after landing. So, where are drones illegal and legal?
Countries such as Antarctica, Cuba, Iran, Morocco, and Uzbekistan, totally restrict drone use. Therefore, you could be fined heavily or jailed if caught flying, selling, buying, or importing a drone. Based on the laws of the country, you could be jailed for up to three years.
However, flying your drone in Tunisia, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Senegal, Kenya, the United Arab Emirates, Ethiopia, and Japan is legal. Even so, in some countries, you must have an operator ID, a permit, and insurance to fly the drone.
In this article, you’ll know which countries restrict drone use and which allow them.
Table of contents
Where Are Drones Illegal?
Countries such as Antarctica, Cuba, Iran, Morocco, and Uzbekistan allow drone use.
Let me discuss further.
You may be fined or sentenced to a 3-year jail term for flying drones in Uzbekistan. Moreover, if caught buying or selling drones in Uzbekistan, you could get into trouble with the authorities.
Importing drones is also prohibited. These laws are set by the USCAA and the Civil Aviation Administration, and you must strictly follow them.
One of the major things why most people go to Antarctica is because of the wildlife. Unfortunately, drones can be a major threat to wildlife if they crash.
On the other hand, most tourists love photographing or taking videos of these awesome creatures. To safeguard wildlife against injury or death caused by drones, Antarctica restricts their use.
Morocco banned drones to tighten security in the country and within its boundaries. So, drones were prohibited in Morocco in 2015.
Therefore, you can be prosecuted for importing drones to Morocco. However, companies can use drones with permits, but must strictly obey the given laws.
Since drones can be used to spy on a country, Cuba fears that they could be used in the same way and become a major threat to the Cubans.
Hence, you will not be allowed to enter the country with a drone. The Civil Aviation Institute of Cuba, abbreviated IACC, will confiscate it.
If lucky, the authorities may give you the drone before leaving the country after heavily penalizing you.
Iran has captivating features that every drone owner would be willing to pay to be allowed to take photos or record videos.
However, the Civil Aviation Organization of Iran (CAOI) prohibited the use of privately owned drones due to privacy threats.
You might even land in serious trouble if you attempt to photograph the government buildings.
Where Are Drones Legal?
Some countries allow flying drones if you follow the set drone laws. Below are some of the countries where drones are legal.
United States of America (USA):
Recreational drones are allowed in the USA. However, each drone controller must fully follow the local and FAA regulations. Recreational drone controllers must pass the FAA TRUST test before flying drones.
According to Part 107 of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Laws, you can also fly commercial drones in the U.S.
Drone use in Tunisia is legal as long as you have the necessary documentation; for example, you must obtain a permit from the Tunisian Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA).
Further, you must register your drone with the Tunisian Government to get a permit.
Nevertheless, there are various areas you must keep off, including the airport, crowded areas, Government and military zones, and private property.
In addition, you must ensure the weather is favorable before flying the drone. Still, you should never fly your drone at night.
While it is legal to fly your drone in Senegal, you (and your drone) must be registered with the Civil Aviation Authority of Senegal (CAA). In addition, you must have a license.
To qualify for the license and be registered with the CAA, you must have passed the given exam and have the required flying experience.
Like Tunisia, you must avoid crowded areas when operating your drone in Senegal. When flying the drone, keep away from airports, crowded zones, government offices, private property, military areas, and highways.
Egypt allows drones, but every recreational drone pilot needs a permit from Egypt’s Civil Aviation Authority (ECAA). Even so, obtaining a permit is not as easy as it sounds. So, get ready or leave your drone at home if you plan to visit Egypt.
Besides having a permit, there are several FAA laws you must never overlook while flying your drone in Egypt.
- Keep the drone at 120 meters (or below).
- Avoid flying near the airports, as you will be held accountable for any drone-related accidents.
- Restrict the temptations to fly above any private property
- Strictly don’t fly at night as it’s difficult to see the drone clearly
- Never fly in highly congested places
- Avoid military zones and government facilities areas
- Ensure that the weather is clear before flying the drone
If you avoid crowded areas, keep the drone above 400 ft (0.12 km) above ground level, stay away from military premises and government zones, and fly your drone during the day and under favorable weather conditions, you can fly your drone in Sri Lanka.
Below are other regulations the FAA and the state set to keep humanity safe from drone dangers.
- Only adults (18 years and above) should fly drones.
- Avoid highways, religious and archeological sites, railways, communication towers, national parks, and electrical lines.
- Register your drone.
- Drones weighing 2.2 lb (ca. 1 kg) or more must have a permit.
- Have drone insurance.
- Never fly within 50 meters of private property, people, or vehicles not part of your drone operations.
- Regardless of your drone needs, keep the drone within Visual Line of Sight (VLOS)
United Arab Emirates (UAE):
You can fly a commercial or recreational drone in the UAE. Besides keeping your drone within the VLOS, flying it under favorable weather conditions, flying it during the day, and avoiding private premises, below are additional drone flying laws:
Recreational Drone laws
- If you don’t have an Emirates ID registered with the GCAA, never record videos or take photographs with your drone (those registered may take drone photographs and shoot videos, but must fly the drone within the permitted height and locations).
- You and your drone must be registered (before any flight) with the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA)
- Don’t fly the drone within 3.1 miles of airports or controlled zones.
- You must alert the GCAA before selling their drones.
- You cannot fly a drone weighing more than 55 pounds unless you’re 21 years and above.
- Your drone should not feature a drop or release device.
- During the flight, there must always be a direct radio control link between you (controller) and the drone.
- If you lose your drone or a drone accident occurs, you must notify the GCAA immediately.
- You must avoid drone collisions with other unmanned or manned aircraft, people, or objects.
- Never endanger people’s lives or their property or harass them using your drone.
- Drone pilots or organizations with a GCAA drone registration certificate must also have operational approval before any flight.
- Every pilot must pass the GCAA exam.
- Special drone pilots using drones in petroleum industries, fire fighting departments, aerial work, media, weather forecasting, drone shows, surveillance, and inspection must hold a GCAA drone Registration Certificate
Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) allows drones for commercial or recreational purposes as long as you follow the FAA regulations.
The FAA rules include keeping the drone within the permitted heights and locations and reducing risks associated with drones to humans, property, and animals.
Recreational drone requirements:
- The drone controller should possess a valid drone pilot certificate issued under Part 61 of the General Authority of Civil Aviation.
- The drone is registered by the GACA, correctly marked, and has an Airworthiness Certificate.
- Your drone must always be flown within the approved areas by the GACA Air Traffic Control provider.
- Never fly drones above people or in crowded zones
- Your drone operations should never endanger people’s lives
- You can never operate a commercial drone unless you possess a Remote Pilot Certificate that is valid and issued by GACA
- Your drone must never be used to transport hazardous material
- The drone must stay within the approved flight altitude (400 ft above ground level).
- The drones should never exceed 100 mph
According to the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA), flying a drone in Kenya is lawful if the drone is registered.
Pilots, however, like in other countries that allow drones, must obey the FAA drone laws lest they be fined or jailed in case of any drone-related injuries or accidents.
As long as pilots stay away from airports, they can fly drones in Kuwait without getting into trouble with the authorities.
Even so, you must fly drones during the day and under clear weather, stay within the approved VLOS to protect everyone and property against drone dangers, and avoid flying above people’s property.
Pilots must be 18 years and older to fly drones in Ethiopia, have attained practical training, and have gained satisfactory drone operation experience.
In addition, the drone controller should have a Category 4 Medical Certificate. Pilots must have excellent drone operation skills; for example, they should perform emergency or routine maneuvers excellently.
Don’t be afraid to carry your drone when traveling to Sweden.
Suppose your drone falls under Class 4, 3, 2, 1, or 0, and you strictly follow the FAA regulations, such as not carrying any life-threatening material. In that case, you’re allowed to fly your drone in Sweden.
Other laws that you must abide by while flying drones in Sweden include:
- Not dropping any materials
- Maintaining a VLOS
- Keeping the drone below 400 ft (0.12 km) Above Ground Level (AGL)
Furthermore, the drone should have a maximal take-off mass of not more than 55 lbs.
Other Sweden drone-related laws include:
- Recreational drones must be flown below the maximal flight altitude (400 ft AGL).
- Never fly the drone around airports in Sweden, as that could cause a drone accident or injury.
- Suppose you’re a tourist intending to fly a drone. In that case, you can only use your drone if approved after sending an application (written in Japanese) to the Ministry of Roads and Transport, Ministry of Tourism, and Ministry of Land, requesting permission to fly your drone in Japan. The application must always be sent 10 days before using the drone.
Though Japan permits drone use, there are strict laws that you must adhere to, contrary to which you could be jailed or fined. For example, though you don’t need a permit to operate a recreational drone, a commercial drone pilot needs one.
Pilots with the required Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) license are allowed to fly drones in London. However, you must always strictly abide by the local and FAA drone rules.
Some of the local flight rules include not flying drones around R159 (Isle of Dogs), airports, R158 (City of London), and R157 (Hyde Park) unless with the authority of NATS.
Drones are promoted in France, but like any other country where they’re legal, there are FAA or state laws to follow, including:
- Enhancing the safety of property, people, and animals within the area of flight.
- Not flying the drone below the recommended altitude
- Not carrying any dangerous material or dropping any material
- Avoiding crowded zones or flying the drone above people
It’s risky to carry your drone to a foreign country without first doing extensive research to know where they are legal or illegal. Before you know it, your drone could either be confiscated and never get it again, or you could have it back after being heavily fined or jailed.
This article has informed you that drones are illegal in Antarctica, Cuba, Iran, Morocco, and Uzbekistan. Based on the country’s laws, you could be jailed for up to three years when found with a drone where it’s illegal.
On the other hand, drones are legal in Tunisia, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Senegal, Kenya, the United Arab Emirates, Ethiopia, Japan, France, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Sweden, and London.
Always do due diligence to know where drones are legal. Avoid carrying yours if drones are prohibited in the destination country.