15 Countries Where Drone Flying Is BANNED In 2020!

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Drone flying is banned in lots of places!

Some of them might actually surprise you, so it’s important to know the laws and regulations.

Going on a vacation is an excellent way of relaxing, and is benefiting in many ways. If you’ve already picked a destination, packed your stuff, sorted your paperwork, there’s no doubt you’ll want to bring your drone with you.

How else would you capture a fantastic sunset, orbit-footage around the monument, different markets, and bazaar? Drones are one of the best ways to get a remotely controlled camera around, especially with their new, ever-evolving technology that makes drone travel-friendly.

Should you bring a drone on your trip?

Unfortunately, some countries just aren’t drone-friendly.

Most states in America have UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) laws and legislation, which, when followed correctly, regulate drone usage. This, in turn, allows people to use drones, as long as those rules of the law stay respected.

Some countries have stringent rules when it comes to drones. In most cases, drones can be used, granted special permission. Most of these countries require special approval for importing and operating a remotely piloted aircraft.

Importing a UAV without a permit (smuggling) can get your device confiscated!

You might even end up interrogated, or temporarily arrested. Illegal flying can also get you arrested, and incur a fine.

And lastly, there are countries with definitive UAV BAN which we’ll get onto in a minute..

There are various reasons for a complete ban: safety issues, political standpoints, privacy infringement. Do not, under any circumstances, try getting into a country with a UAV device. In most cases, you’ll have your equipment confiscated, and returned to you upon departure. Unfortunately, in some cases, it may result in a jail sentence or capital punishment.

Which countries have banned drone flying?

Always familiarize yourself with UAV laws of your targeted destination, to avoid misunderstandings or legal issues. To offer a heads-up, here’s a list of countries where drone flying is banned:

1. Egypt

Egypt’s ban on UAVs came as a result of the misuse of drone technologies by radical groups. In all cases, according to Egyptian Rules of the Air and Air Traffic, using an unmanned aircraft is strictly prohibited.

According to their Civil Aviation Authority, no unmanned aircraft are allowed to fly or work in the territory of the State, unless upon permission of Civil Aviation Authority.

Owning, smuggling, and using a drone in Egypt can cause serious legal issues, which can, in turn, create a severe penalty. Penalties range from a year in prison, plus fines, all the way to capital punishment.

However, there is a possible way of using drones in Egypt. Egypt does have a licensed company and a licensed UAV crew available for hire.

2. Barbados

Barbados has seen several drones for commercial and recreational use entering the country over the years. That contributed to the increased unregulated usage of unregistered commercial drones. Since their uncontrolled use can pose a risk to safety, security, and privacy, the authorities raised a concern towards the use of unmanned aircraft systems.

The prohibition of UAVs took place on April 1, 2016, to allow the authorities to complete a legal framework to govern the use of these devices. This temporary suspension on importation and licensing of drones has been extended several times so far, and it’s still in effect. On April 1, 2019, the ban was extended for another 12 months.

If you’re found to be importing a drone, customs will confiscate it and require you to post it back to its source. In some cases, they will hold onto it until you leave the country to re-export it with your departure.

As a visitor, you can try applying for a temporary exemption to this ban. Each application is considered on a case by case basis, and if approved, a license would be granted.

3. Cuba

Flying a drone without permission is currently banned in Cuba. Operating a commercial or recreational drone in Cuba requires a permit, so before flying one legally, you’ll need to undergo an approval process.

The process itself is very long and requires at least five different authorizations. The paperwork depends on various institutions, as well as the local government in every place you’re flying or filming. Responses, positive or negative, can take over six weeks to arrive.

Any attempt to bring a drone into the country without permission will result in having your device confiscated. You can even get arrested.

If you have received a permit, there are several laws you’ll need to follow to avoid legal issues:

  • Do not fly over people, large crowds, or private property
  • Do not fly your drone over airports
  • Drones can only be operated during daylight and in right weather conditions
  • Use of drones or camera drones in sensitive areas is strictly prohibited. These include government and military facilities

However, you can rent a drone in Cuba, since there are companies in Havana offering this service.

4. India

The prime reason for the drone ban in India is due to the potential misuse by radical organizations in acts of terrorism, espionage, and aircraft interference. Purchasing a drone somewhere abroad and bringing it to India as the import of drones is strictly prohibited.

However, some are available at shopping sites, markets, and bazaars in India, though flying is restricted. Obtaining a permit for flying these drones depends on whether or not you meet the mandatory specific requirements.

India has a rigorous “No Permit – No Takeoff” policy. All registered drones must have an RF ID and SIM, and pilots must ask for permission via a mobile app before every single flight. If the pilot doesn’t receive consent, he or she wouldn’t be able to take off. Also, only citizens of India can have this license granted, so there’s no point in even applying if you’re a visitor.

5. Morocco

Due to several incidents caused by amateur and professional UAV pilots, the Moroccan government placed a ban on the import of drones. Anyone who orders a drone by postal services will have them confiscated.

Foreigners who arrive by means of air or road will also have their civilian drone confiscated and withheld until their departure in their respective countries. The Moroccan government does approve the uses of drones in Special Cases and State Interventions.

If you’re by any chance planning to film in Morocco using UAV technology, you’ll have to use a local Moroccan production company.

6. Iran

Since Iranian authorities are quick to assume you would use drone technology for espionage, several drone pilots have endured extensive interrogations.

Unmanned aerial devices caused several security scares approaching sensitive areas, and at least two such devices have been shot down. After these incidents, Iran banned privately-owned drones from flying over Teheran, with licenses only being granted to relevant bodies and not individuals.

Trying to enter the country with a drone will result in your device being confiscated.

7. North Korea

North Korea has a totalitarian regime that controls all journalistic activities in the country. It is unclear whether North Korea allows recreational UAVs or not. Some sources say North Korea does not differentiate between commercial and recreational drone use, and that both are strictly forbidden. The use of drones can result in a jail sentence or capital punishment.

According to other sources, however, drone use is allowed in North Korea with the government’s approval. If you want to take the footage, you’ll be accompanied by government’s watchers who make sure that you only travel on a given route, and film what’s approved.

8. Nicaragua

Officially, according to the Nicaraguan Institute of Civil Aeronautics (NICA), drones are banned in the country. Since they control Nicaraguan airspace, they alerted the population not to use unmanned equipment to avoid accidents.

Any attempt to enter the country with a drone will result in the device being confiscated. Both commercial and recreational use is strictly prohibited – according to Nicaraguan Resolution No. 34-2014.

9. Saudi Arabia

Unlike UAE, where recreational drones are allowed, but heavily regulated, Saudi Arabia placed a general ban on recreational drone flights.

Drones are not allowed on airports, military airspace, palaces, royal residences, and other facilities belonging to the members of the ruling family. To maintain air safety within the kingdom’s airspace, and prevent the breach of privacy, recreational drones can’t be flown without a government-issued permit.

Anyone wishing to import and pilot a drone must register the serial number in order to obtain customs clearance. If the device is registered, the Saudi Customs will allow it into the country. Please be aware that Saudi authorities do not speak English in general.

10. Zambia

Zambia does allow the use of drones; however, this country is a prime example of over-regulation and the use of special legislation.

Drones are allowed to fly a maximum height 400ft, but not higher than the highest object in the 1000ft radius. All UAV flights are permitted only during daylight and in the line of sight. The maximum horizontal distance must not exceed 1600ft. Also, any drone weighing more than 3.5lbs can’t be used as a private device.

Zambia has no-flight zones, like nuclear power plants, police stations, prisons, major national facilities, etc. You should also pay attention to your surroundings since according to Zambia’s rules on safety distances; you must maintain a 150ft distance from people, buildings, and public roads.

All drones in Zambia must be equipped with a fireproof license plate indicating their nationality, and registration number. Also, it’s mandatory that you have a first aid kit and a fire extinguisher in the immediate vicinity of your flight route.

And last but not least, if you want to pilot a UAV in Zambia, you’ll need Letter of Approval, Certificate of Registration, and a Remote Pilot’s License. While all the documents can be obtained from Zambia Civil Aviation Authority, to get a Remote Pilot’s License, you must pass multiple exams.

11. Ethiopia

Unfortunately, the current drone laws in Ethiopia are quite unclear. So, the best bet is to contact Ethiopian Civil Aviation and ask for a permit. Note that several people have reported that they had their drones confiscated at the customs, for the lack of permission.

If you by any chance get permission from Ethiopian Civil Aviation, familiarize yourself with Ethiopia’s flight sensitive areas to avoid legal issues.

12. Belgium

Belgium has lifted the ban on drones, but it has stringent regulations. Any device used for private purposes must have a takeoff weight less than 2.2lbs. Also, drones in this category must not fly higher than 30ft above the ground.

If you’re a commercial UAV pilot, you’ll have to register your drone, have proper insurance, and have an RPL. To obtain an RPL, you’ll have to complete a theory course and pass a practical flight test.

13. Cambodia

Drone flights ARE allowed in Cambodia; however, there are some areas with significant restrictions.

Ascending a drone in the capital, Phnom Penh, requires special permission. Flying over Angkor Wat or Siem Reap landmarks also requires individual permissions. Those can be obtained from Cinema and Cultural Diffusion Department, Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, Authority of Protection and Management of Angkor Wat and Siem Reap, and Air Traffic Control.

14. Tunisia

In Tunisia, you’ll require a permit to pilot a drone. It wouldn’t sound so bad if it weren’t for the fact that permissions are almost impossible to obtain.

Your application passes through the Ministry of National Defense, Home Office, Ministry of Equipment and Housing and Department of Transportation. All of this is incredibly time-consuming, and only a few permissions were issued so far.

If you travel to Tunisia with a drone without permission, you can expect your aircraft to be confiscated. Several people underwent interrogation, and some were even temporarily arrested.

15. Madagascar

Since March 2015 you have to apply for a permit if you want to pilot a drone in Madagascar. These rules apply only for commercial pilots since permissions aren’t granted to private drone users at all.

As a commercial drone pilot, you must obtain a permit for each flight, by sending a four-page application to the Aviation Civile De Madagascar. As a private user, you can only fly your drone indoors, as no permit is required.

If you’re planning a vacation in Madagascar, and don’t want to go through any bureaucratic hassle, you might want to leave your copter at home.

Will drone flying become illegal?

Well, I hope not!

I think it depends on how the drone flying community behaves to be honest. I think it has the POTENTIAL to become illegal, just because of the danger and risks involved. It’s FAR more dangerous to fly a drone than it is to say, race a remote control car on a field. 

Because the drones fly at such speeds and heights, if something went wrong it could cause lots more damage. That being said I think if technology keeps advancing how it is now, there will be more and more advanced failsafes and safety measures built into drones.

This should make accidents much less likely. Of course, they’ll still happen though! Cars cause LOTS of deaths and accidents every single day but they’re not banned.. They’re just regulated and insured. I think drone flying will go the same way.

Is it illegal to have a drone?

Currently it’s not illegal to OWN a drone in most countries (but make sure you check YOUR country to make sure!). The legal problems really only start to become evident if you do things like flying over lots of people, causing damage or using footage you’ve not got permission to use.

EXCEPTIONS to these laws and rules?

To be honest in a lot of cases, you CAN get exceptions and permission to fly in places which are otherwise off limits. In order to do that, you usually will need to get a license, permission, insurance and jump through all sorts of other hoops to get it done but it can be done in some cases.

I’m sure you’ve seen videos of people flying in places and countries which are on this list, and known to have a drone ban. Some of them do so illegally, but some actually managed to get permissions or they’ve contacted the relevant authorities and got permission. 

What is the future of drone flying?

It’s hard to say but I think drones will continue to be a big part of our culture because they’re so fun and exciting! They’re certainly going to play a big part in our future. It could be that police and military will start using them more, or they could become more of a consumer hobby as well.

Whatever happens, we need to remember to observe our local laws, be safe, and be sensible. But above all, just have fun and try not to do anything stupid! 

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Categories: Drone News/Info