Planning to travel with a drone? These are the drone regulations around the world

Nov 29, 2020

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Planning to travel with a drone? These are the drone regulations around the world

Nov 29, 2020

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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Ok, so maybe you’re not planning to travel much for a little while just yet, but when the world eventually opens back up, people are going to. And some of you are going to want to take your shiny new drone with you to capture scenes of the places you visit from the air. But every country has its own unique and specific drone regulations that you may not be aware of.

So, the folks at Surfshark have put together a very handy list covering… well, pretty much the entire planet on where you can and can’t fly a drone. As Surfshark is a VPN company, naturally their focus is on the privacy issues surrounding drones around the world, but as privacy is a big factor in some drone regulations around the world, it’s a big deal.

Surfshark compiled drone legislation information from just about every country in the world to discover how each of them treats drones, particularly in regard to privacy. Some nations have an outright ban on drones completely while others are far more tolerant – and at least one country on every continent allows for unrestricted use.

Although many of the laws are more safety-focused rather than based on privacy issues, the safety restrictions do offer a level of privacy protection as a knock-on effect. And some of the laws are extremely strict. In Ghana, for example, if you’re caught flying a drone without a license, you could wind up with a 30 year prison sentence.

But while not all of the laws are quite so harsh, some of them are a little quirky. In Latvia, for example, drone pilots must wear an identifying piece of clothing, such as a hat or shirt, drone flights cannot last for longer than an hour in Peru and in some countries, such as Bhutan, the only people allowed to fly drones at all are the government.

As interesting as the laws themselves were some of the statistics they uncovered about various countries, as well as drone technology. In the USA, they found that 71% of the ~1.8 million drones registered with the FAA are flown by hobbyists, but an impressive 29% are commercial UAVs. I expected that number to be much smaller.

And while the number of drone rules and regulations around the world is ever-growing, so is the number of patents filed for drone technology. Surfshark says that drone-related patents grew by 34% from 7,076 in 2017 to 9c485 in 2018 alone. I shudder to think how many there are now.

With as relatively young a technology as drones are, I expect we’ve only just scratched the surface of what drones will become. It wouldn’t surprise me if we were more than double that 2018 patent figure by now, and now that other big names like Sony are entering the fray to give DJI some stiff competition, I expect we’ll see a massive increase in the speed of drone tech development and drone capability over the next few years.

Head on over to Surfshark’s website to see the complete report. It makes for some interesting reading.

Nov 30 update: Images updated with new information.

[via Surfshark / Images used with permission]

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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8 responses to “Planning to travel with a drone? These are the drone regulations around the world”

  1. Burt Johnson Avatar
    Burt Johnson

    Note that the info on Ecuador is out of date, as of next week. New regulations go into effect on Dec 1 that include no flying within 7 km (5 miles) of any commercial airport. All drones over 500g must now be registered with the government, and all drones must carry insurance covering damage caused by drones in the amounts of $5,000, $7,000 or $10,000 depending on drone weight.

    I live in Cuenca (the third largest city in Ecuador), and there is no part of the city that is more than 5 miles from the airport, which is in town. As such, drones have effectively been prohibited from flying in Cuenca. :(

    1. TheEditor Avatar
      TheEditor

      Beautiful town. Real shame.

  2. Bruce Simpson Avatar
    Bruce Simpson

    New Zealand may have some great scenery but be aware that it is forbidden to fly drones in most of our national parks. Also, it is illegal to fly a drone over *any* land without the expressed permission of the land-owner. So, unless you see a “drones allowed” sign then you should assume that drone flying would be a breach of the regulations. That’s the “official” line — best advice would be to fly safely and not publish your videos to YouTube or Facebook until you return to your own country :-D

  3. Dušan Todorović Avatar
    Dušan Todorović

    The map is ridiculous. Slovenia hasn’t banned drones, get your facts straight.

    1. Colin Gale Avatar
      Colin Gale

      agreed, i’am in zambia and It is against the law to fly a drone without a locally recognized License which is only available for course’s twice a year (once this year) . so yeah, flag as false information as this would get someone arrested.

    2. Don Steitz Avatar
      Don Steitz

      So much hostility in the world. He made a mistake. Did the whole world and might have got some bad information. It’s not “ridiculous”…just mistaken. If made aware he likely will correct it. I doubt he would do that on purpose.

  4. Jolyon Ralph Avatar
    Jolyon Ralph

    There’s more than this though. Although Morocco has an absolutely fanatical obsession with their drone ban (you’re checked coming into the country and carry-on x-rayed to make sure you don’t have a drone) in Madagascar I had no problems using a drone – even with a local police officer standing right next to me (he just wanted to watch how it worked!) Of course, I might not be as lucky next time.

  5. Adeel Anwar Avatar
    Adeel Anwar

    Nice concept and excellent effort.