Countries that have Banned Drones in 2020

Not all countries are created equal, and certainly, at the moment (February 2020) 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!

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 over 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 But as this is still a new industry, drone laws around the world are constantly evolving and information goes out of date all the time before you even get to fly it.

Google search for can you fly a drone in Japan showing information from March 2017 which is out of date
Information about flying a drone in Japan….. but it is nearly 3 years out of date.

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see from the above example taken on 1 February 2020, the top result for flying your drone in Japan is nearly 3 years out of date.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.

Drill Down

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 take 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 – February 2020

Algeria

Algeria has a complete UAV ban.  All UAVs will be confiscated at the point of entry.

Flag of Algeria - left hand dark green, right hand white with red crescent and star in the middle

Antarctica

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.

Barbados

Up until 19 November 2019, there was a temporary ban on drones in Barbados. This has 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.

Bhutan

Don’t try to enter Bhutan with a drone. It will be confiscated at customs.

Brunei

Drones are banned in Brunei and if you arrive with a drone, it will be confiscated at customs.

Cuba

Cuba has banned drones. Your drone will be confiscated by customs.

Egypt

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.

Ethiopia

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.

India

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

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.

Iraq

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.

Ivory Coast

Drones are banned in Cote d’Ivoire and if you arrive with a drone, it will be confiscated at customs.

Kenya

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

Kuwait is another of the Gulf states that have banned drones and will confiscate them at the airport or border.

Kyrgyzstan

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

Madagascar banned drones for personal use in March 2015 and they will confiscate them on arrival.

If you are bringing it to the country for commercial use, you can apply for permission to fly in Madagascar.

Morocco

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.

Nicaragua

Drones are banned in Nicaragua and will be confiscated on arrival.

North Korea

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.

Oman

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 PACA site.

Saudi Arabia

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.

Saudi Arabia flag - dark green rectangle with Arabic writing on it - Saudi Arabia ban drones

Senegal

Drones are illegal in Senegal and you risk having it confiscated on arrival at the airport or border.

Sri Lanka

After the bombings in 2019, Sri Lanka banned drones. Now in 2020, after checking the Sri Lanka Civil Aviation Authority website, it looks as if 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.

Syria

Drones are banned in Syria and will be confiscated on arrival.

Tunisia

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.

UAE

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

Uzbekistan has banned drones and importing or operating one could land you with a jail sentence.

I hope this post helps you decide where you can take your drone. I will keep it updated every month. If you have any questions or want to share any updates, please comment below!

Don’t forget to pin this article so you can come back to it later!

4 thoughts on “Countries that have Banned Drones in 2020

  1. Drones are allowed in Iceland. We were just there and there were a lot of signs at each site saying that drone flying was not allowed. They made them very visible. Places like the glacier lagoon, etc. So I guess the key is to also look for signs before you fly.

    1. Yes, a lot of countries let you bring them into the country, but there are restrictions on where you can fly.

  2. Slightly different for India now. Drones less than 250 gm nano drones are considered toys and can be used in authorised zones. I bought one a couple of weeks back and using it with the app with Authorization etc. Otherwise, you need to obtain permission. A number of places in India remain off limits from flying zone though, like the Taj or Ladakh or airport areas or naval bases, so be cognizant of that. DGCA website is helpful to determine what kind of drone you can use in India. 🙂

    1. Thank you Madhurima. Sadly it is different for foreigners coming into India, there are slightly different rules, but I have updated the section on India.

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