Not all countries are created equal, and certainly, at the moment (June 2023) not all drone laws are the same in every country. Some countries have restrictions, or permits are required and insurance and operator ids. Other countries have banned drones completely and will confiscate them at the entry point. The last thing you want to do when you go on holiday is to have your drone confiscated before you even get it out of its case!
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Why are drones banned in some countries?
There are several reasons why drones are banned in some countries.
- Many countries have not yet developed clear drone/UAV guidelines, so ban them completely until they work out the best way forward.
- There are some countries which are not stable and drones are seen as a threat.
- Certain countries do not allow drones for security reasons.
- Other countries are protective of their wildlife.
How do you know which countries you can take your drone to?
The internet is awash with posts containing information about which countries you can take your drone to, including, I suppose, this post. But as this is still a new industry, drone laws around the world are constantly evolving and information goes out of date all the time before you even get to fly it.
As you can see from the above example taken on 1 February 2020, the top result for flying your drone in Japan is nearly 3 years out of date. So if you follow their advice, you might get yourself into trouble.
Do your Research
When I am checking if I can take my drone to a country, the first site I go to is www.uavcoach.com. They keep the site pretty up-to-date and I use it more to get an overview of the regulations.
I then drill down further and check the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) website for the country, just in case regulations have changed.
Make an educated decision
From there I make my decision whether to apply for a temporary permit if I have been commissioned to provide drone footage. I would advise applying as far in advance as you can and taking copies of all your documents. But for most of the countries below, I just leave my drone behind.
Be prepared to face the consequences
If however, you decide to take to one of the countries that have banned drones, you have to accept that you might lose your drone forever. It is also possible that you will not be covered by your insurance if you take your drone to a country that has banned them.
27 Countries that have banned drones, or made it difficult to fly – June 2023
Algeria has a complete UAV ban. All UAVs will be confiscated at the point of entry.
Antarctica has a complete UAV ban for the entire region. Antarctica is the largest nature reserve in the world and drones are banned to protect wildlife.
Up until 2 May 2020, there was a temporary ban on drones in Barbados. This was extended to October 2020. now been lifted and you can apply for a temporary import licence 6 weeks in advance of your arrival using the form downloaded from their website.
For more information see the BUAVA website.
Don’t try to enter Bhutan with a drone. It will be confiscated at customs.
Drones are banned in Brunei and if you arrive with a drone, it will be confiscated at customs.
Cuba has banned drones. Your drone will be confiscated by customs.
While it is technically legal to fly a drone in Egypt, you have to get permission from the Egyptian Civil Aviation Authority and this might prove almost impossible for a foreigner to get.
At the time of writing (February 2020), Ethiopia does not have any published drone or UAV laws, but that doesn’t mean that you are safe to bring your drone into the country. If you are travelling to Ethiopia and want to take your drone, it would be wise to contact the Ethiopia Civil Aviation Authority to check well in advance.
As a foreigner, don’t even think of taking your drone to India. If you do, you will have to go through the Red Channel and declare it. They will confiscate it and you may not get it back.
For commercial operations, you need to lease the drone to an Indian national who will obtain a Unique Identification Number (UIN) and UAOP. For more information see the DGCA website.
Iran has banned drones, and they will be confiscated on arrival into the country.
There was a well-documented case where two travel bloggers were detained in Iran for illegally flying their drones. They were later released, but it was a sobering incident for all drone flyers.
If you try to take your drone into Iraq, it will be taken off you at your point of entry as Iraq has banned drones.
Drones are banned in Cote d’Ivoire and if you arrive with a drone, it will be confiscated at customs.
Now Kenya is a tricky one. In 2019 the KCAA produced Draft Regulations for UAVs and said they were lifting the drone ban, but at the time of writing, this has not become actual law. So do your due diligence and keep checking if you want to fly in Kenya.
For more information see the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority website.
Kuwait is another of the Gulf states that have banned drones and will confiscate them at the airport or border.
Leave your drone behind when you are travelling to Kyrgyzstan. Yup, they are banned and you are likely to have your drone confiscated if you turn up with one.
Madagascar banned drones for personal use in March 2015 and they will confiscate them on arrival.
Sadly those epic desert landscapes cannot be filmed with your drone as Morocco has banned drones and customs will confiscate them if you try to bring one into the country.
Drones are banned in Nicaragua and will be confiscated on arrival.
With no published guidelines on whether to take your drone into North Korea, I think the general attitude towards foreigners would put me off even considering taking my drone there.
Drones are allowed in Oman but only for commercial flights. Any commercial flights have to have a permit which you need to apply for and get before entering Oman. For more information see Oman’s CAA site.
Saudia Arabia does not allow drones into the country.
Interestingly on the Saudi Arabia General Authority for Aviation website, there is now a button for registering UAVs, though I suspect it is just for Saudi nationals. This might mean that they will look to open up to foreign registrations at some point in the future.
Drones are illegal in Senegal and you risk having it confiscated on arrival at the airport or border.
Sri Lanka – yes you can fly now!
After the bombings in 2019, Sri Lanka banned drones. Now in 2023, after checking the Sri Lanka Civil Aviation Authority website, you can apply for permission to fly.
There are a lot of hoops to jump through and a fee to pay, but worth looking at if you want to fly your drone in Sri Lanka.
You first have to register your drone with the Sri Lankan CAA before your arrival. Once you have approval, you can then apply to fly in various areas. This application has to be made at least 5 days in advance. You will also have to get “No Objections” if the area you want to fly in is historical or a restricted area.
Drones are banned in Syria and will be confiscated on arrival.
Although there are no drone regulations in place for Tunisia, this doesn’t mean that you have carte blanche to fly your drone or even bring it into the country.
Although drones are allowed in the UAE, there are strict rules that you have to adhere to. For more information see the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority website.
Uzbekistan has banned drones and importing or operating one could land you with a jail sentence.
Final thoughts about taking a drone abroad
With ever-changing regulations, it is worth checking in advance about the relevant drone rules wherever you are travelling in the world. You may also have issues with carrying a drone in your hand luggage through certain countries – check the post on carrying a drone on a plane.
I hope this post helps you decide where you can take your drone. I will keep it updated whenever I hear of new regulations. If you have any questions or want to share any updates, please comment below!