Drone Regulations What you Need to Know

Drone Regulations: What You Need to Know (UPDATED)

Drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) have become a growing equipment trend in aerial photography and film. The possibilities of shooting with drones are endless and hold the promise of new creative options, real cost savings and possibly even safer sets.  But before you go out and buy or hire the most expensive drone you can afford, you need to know the laws that come with commercial drone use.

The laws that regulate commercial use of drones vary from country to country.  Some countries require permits and have very strict regulations about drone use while others are more open.  Check out our overview of country regulations on drones:

North America


The Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs) require unmanned air vehicle (UAV) operators to apply for a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC).

When flying a UAV (non-recreational drone) in Canada, you must:

  • follow the rules in the Canadian Aviation Regulations:
  • section 602.41 – Unmanned air vehicles
  • respect the Criminal Code, your provincial Trespass Act, as well as all applicable municipal, provincial, and territorial laws that apply

For more information visit Transport Canada.


Basic drone laws:

  • All drone flights must be operated in daylight only
  • There are no laws on operating drones weighing under 2kg other than they cannot be used at night
  • A permit is required for operation of drones weighing between 2kg and 25kg
  • A permit and pilot license are required for operation of drones weighing over 25kg
  • Despite the lack of Mexican drone laws you should still be careful when operating a done in Mexico. Try to maintain visual contact with your drone at all times and avoid flying over large crowds or near airports.

For more information visit http://www.sct.gob.mx/transporte-y-medicina-preventiva/aeronautica-civil/inicio/

United States

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) outlines the following as basic things an operator must know for flying under the small UAS rule (14 CFR part 107):

Pilot Requirements:

  • Must be at least 16 years old
  • Must pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center+
  • Must be vetted by the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA)

Aircraft Requirements:

Operating Rules:

  • Class G airspace*
  • Must keep the aircraft in sight (visual line-of-sight)*
  • Must fly under 400 feet*
  • Must fly during the day*
  • Must fly at or below 100 mph*
  • Must yield right of way to manned aircraft*
  • Must NOT fly over people*
  • Must NOT fly from a moving vehicle*

* All of these rules are subject to waiver

To fly a UAS that weighs 55 lbs. or more, operators will need to use the existing Section 333 exemption process.

For more information visit the Federal Aviation Administration.

South America


Agência Nacional de Aviação Civil (ANAC) approved the Brazilian Regulation of Special Civil Aviation, which regulates the civil operation of remotely piloted aircraft, drones.

  • drones cannot be used at a distance of less than 30 horizontal meters (approximately 100 feet) of people without their consent, except in cases of public security or civil defense operations.
  • drones weighing more than 150 kilograms (about 330 pounds) must undergo a certification process similar to that existing for manned aircraft and must be registered in the Registro Aeronáutico Brasileiro.  Pilots must be over 18 years of age and must have a medical-aeronautical certificate, drone license, and authorization/operator’s license.
  • drones weighing between 25 kilos (about 55 pounds) and 150 kilos must be in conformity with technical requirements prescribed for manufacturers. Operators must be at least 18 years old and have a medical-aeronautical certificate, drone license, and operator’s license.
  • drones weighing between 250 grams (about 0.5 pounds) and 25 kilos need only be registered with the ANAC if operated up to 120 meters (about 394 feet)  above the ground. For equipment weighing under 250 grams there are no requirements in the Regulation.

For more information visit Agência Nacional de Aviação Civil.



Operation of the following drones and model aircraft requires an authorization to fly granted by the relevant state aviation authority and usually valid for two years:

  • drones or model aircraft weighing more than five kilograms;
  • rocket-powered drones and model aircrafts whose propellant mass exceeds 20 grams;
  • drones and model aircraft with a combustion engine, if they are flown within 1.5 kilometers of a residential area;
  • drones and model aircraft of all kinds if they are flown within 1.5 kilometers of an airport (flight at airports requires an additional clearance from German Aviation Control); and
  • drones and model aircraft of all kinds if flown at “night,” defined by the EU Implementing Regulation as the hours “between the end of evening civil twilight and the beginning of morning civil twilight.”

Drones and model aircrafts cannot be operated:

  • within 100 meters of or above people and public gatherings, the scene of an accident, disaster zones, other sites of operation of police or other organizations with security-related duties, and military drill sites;
  • within 100 meters of or above correctional facilities, military complexes, industrial complexes, power plants, and power generation and distribution facilities;
  • within 100 meters of or above the property of federal or state governments, diplomatic or consular missions, international organizations, and law enforcement and security agencies;
  • within 100 meters of or above federal highways, federal waterways, and railway systems;
  • above nature reserves;
  • above 100 meters;
  • above residential property if the drone or model aircraft weighs more than 0.25 kilograms or if it is able to receive, transmit, or record optical, acoustic, or radio signals;
  • in controlled airspace;
  • within 100 meters of or above hospitals.

The aviation authority may grant an exception to the general prohibitions in justified cases.

For more information visit Luftfahrt Bundesamt (LBA).


Use of drones is regulated by Luftfartstilsynet Civil Aviation Authority Norway.  There are three operator categories, based on weight and flight.

RO 1 operators must notify the CAA Norway before starting up any new undertaking. Such notification shall contain information about the undertaking’s name, address and contact information, as well as information about the type of aircraft that will be used.

An RO 1 undertaking is an undertaking in which aircraft

  • with an MTOM of up to 2.5 kg and
  • a maximum speed of 60 knots
  • will be operated exclusively within VLOS during daylight hours and subject to fixed safety distances


RO 2 operators must obtain a license from the CAA Norway before starting up an undertaking. The application must be accompanied by a risk analysis and an operations manual.

An RO 2 undertaking is an undertaking in which aircraft

  • with an MTOM of up to 25 kg and
  • a maximum speed of 80 knots
  • will be used for VLOS or EVLOS operations during daylight hours and subject to fixed safety distances


RO 3 operators must obtain a license from the CAA Norway before starting up an undertaking. The application must be accompanied by a risk analysis and an operations manual.

An RO 3 undertaking is an undertaking in which the aircraft

  • have an MTOM of 25 kg or more, or
  • a maximum speed of 80 knots, or
  • is operated by a turbine engine, or
  • will be used for BLOS operations at altitudes of more than 120 metres, or
  • will operate in controlled airspace at altitudes of more than 120 metres, or
  • will operate over or in the vicinity of crowds of people other than in the cases mentioned in Section 51 third paragraph.

For more information visit Luftfartstilsynet Civil Aviation Authority Norway.


For the operation of drones and model aircraft with a weight of more than 30 kilograms a permit has to be obtained from the FOCA. In each individual case the FOCA specifies the applicable requirements and operating conditions. The criteria for the operation of drones and model aircraft with a weight of up to 30 kilograms are specified in the DETEC Ordinance on Special Categories of Aircraft.

  • If an operator wants to incorporate auxiliary devices such as binoculars or video goggles in order to extend the natural visual range, a permit has to be obtained from the FOCA (Licensing procedure).
  • Without exception, the operation of drones and model aircraft is strictly prohibited within game reserves and bird sanctuaries.
  • The recording of aerial images is permitted as long as the operator duly observes the regulations governing the protection of military installations. The operator must also observe the principle of protection of privacy and the provisions of the Federal Data Protection Act.
  • In principle, drones may not be operated above, or within a radius of 100 metres from, gatherings of people (Further information and licensing procedure).
  • Anyone who operates a drone or model aircraft with a weight of more than 500 grams is required to take out liability insurance cover in the amount of at least 1 million Swiss francs to cover any damages that may be caused.
  • Restrictions apply with respect to the operation of drones and model aircraft in the vicinity of airfields and airports. For example, it is prohibited to operate such devices at a distance of less than 5 kilometres from runways.
  • Cantonal and municipal authorities may impose additional restrictions on the use of unmanned aircraft (Example of the Canton of Geneva).
  • As before, a permit does not have to be obtained from the FOCA for public air shows at which exclusively model aircraft and drones are on show.

For more information visit the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA).

United Kingdom

Regulations are contained within the Air Navigation Order 2016 (ANO 2016) and there are specific steps that must be taken if a drone is being flown for commercial operations.

  • You must have a Permission issued by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) before you conduct any commercial operations with your drone.
  • Applications should be made on the standard form SRG 1320 and information should also be supplied about the scope of the operation and where and when it will take place. In the majority of cases, only the ‘standard’ CAA permission is granted and this favours aircraft weighing no more than 7kg (15 lbs). Any aircraft weighing more than 20kg (44 lbs) are subject to a more involved process and are more difficult to approve. How to apply for a Permission.

Further Guidance on drone operations within UK airspace can be found at the UK guidance document CAP 722.



Drones under 2kg need to notify CASA at least five business days before their first commercial flight and agree to operate by the standard operating conditions and the guidance in advisory circular (AC) 101-10.

Under the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) weighing 2kg or less must fly:

  • less than 400 feet (121m) in a controlled airspace (generally meaning any populated area)
  • only in good weather conditions; not into a cloud or at night.
  • more than 10m horizontally and 30 feet (9 metres) vertically of a person (except people
  • operating the drone) or boat or building
  • at a height far enough over a large group of people that if the drone failed or any of its components fall, they will not land on people
  • clear of prohibited or restricted areas (such as an aerodrome or restricted military areas)

If you want to fly a drone commercially in Australia weighing more than 2kg, then you will need to obtain a remote pilot license (RePL), and an RPA operator’s certificate (ReOC).

For detailed information or for certification, visit the Civil Aviation Safety Authority website.

New Zealand

The Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand (CAA) oversees the use of drones in New Zealand:

  • RPAS weighing between 15 and 25 kg must be constructed or inspected, approved and operated under the authority of a person or association approved for this purpose by the Director of Civil Aviation.
  • For RPAS over 25kg you must submit an ‘exposition’ showing that you have identified hazards and risks of your operation, and will always mitigate those risks. Each application will be considered on its merit.
  • An operator must not use airspace above people unless they have the consent of people below the flight.
  • An operator must not use airspace above an area of property unless prior consent has been obtained from any persons occupying that property or the property owner.

You can apply to the CAA to work though different options with an operator and/or to relax or remove one or both of the consent requirements altogether.

For more information visit the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand.


Hong Kong

The Civil Aviation Department (CAD) is responsible for processing applications for non-recreational operations of drones within Hong Kong.


  • An application for operating UAS shall be submitted to the CAD well before the intended date of operation. The electronic form is accessible through this link.
  • In accordance with the Air Transport (Licensing of Air Services) Regulations (Chapter 448A of the Laws of Hong Kong) Regulation 22, the applicant is also required to submit an Application for Permit for use of aircraft for the provision of air service – Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS).
  • The operator is required to assess the risks involved and to provide a copy of an insurance policy that appropriately insures the operator in respect of third party risks which may be incurred.

Pilot Qualification
Evidence of pilot competency is required when making an application for permission to operate UAS

Operations Manual

  • The UAS operator is required to submit an operations manual covering the procedures to be followed for all envisaged operations of the UAS. This document is a key requirement to enable CAD to accurately assess the application and the safety case before deciding whether to grant a permission.
  • Guidance for the compilation of the UAS operations manual can be downloaded here.

Communication with ATC

  • The UAS operator shall inform the CAD/Aerodrome Supervisor before launching and on completion of the UAS operation.
  • The UAS operator shall provide his/her contact phone number to the CAD/Aerodrome Supervisor, who may instruct to stop the operation when necessary.


The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MILT) has issued the following regulations for drone use in Japan:

Prohibited Airspace for Flight
Any person who intends to operate a UAV in the following airspace is required to obtain permission from the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.

  • Airspace around airports and above certain heights above ground level.
  • Above densely populated areas (4,000 people per square kilometer or more).

Operational Limitations
Any person who intends to operate a UAV is required to follow the operational conditions listed below, unless approved by the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.

  • Operation of UAVs in the daytime.
  • Operation of UAVs within Visual Line of Sight (VLOS).
  • Maintenance of a certain operating distance between UAVs and persons or properties on the ground/ water surface.
  • Do not operate UAVs over event sites where many people gather.
  • Do not transport hazardous materials such as explosives by UAV.
  • Do not drop any objects from UAVs.

For more information visit the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.


South Africa

An RPA must be registered and may only be operated in terms of Part 101 of the South African Civil Aviation Regulations.

Do not fly/operate Remotely Piloted Aircraft, or toy aircraft 50 m or closer from:

  • Any person or group of persons (like sports field, road races, schools, social events, etc.)
  • Any property without permission from the property owner.

Unless approved by the SACAA, DO NOT fly/operate Remotely Piloted Aircraft or toy aircraft:

  • Near manned aircraft
  • 10 km or closer to an aerodrome (airport, helipad, airfield)
  •  Weighing more than 7 kg
  • In controlled airspace
  • In restricted airspace
  • In prohibited airspace.

Do not fly/operate Remotely Piloted Aircraft, or toy aircraft higher than 150 ft from the ground, unless approved by the Director of Civil Aviation of the SACAA.

For more information visit the South African Civil Aviation Authority.

About Skyvireo

Skyvireo.com is a Global Media Desk company, dedicated to providing clients with the highest quality, most cost-effective drone services around the world. Our constant striving for perfection in the way we provide drone services has led to new and exciting ways to better serve our customers. Above all, our aim is to provide clients with a hassle-free experience that will save them time, money, and eliminate frustration.

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Catherine Beeny

Director of Marketing, Catherine Beeny, adds her unique style and background to the Global Media Desk family. With a BA in English and MA in International Journalism, Catherine originally began as a coffee gopher on TV and movie sets at Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. After falling in love with online marketing in 2002 Catherine took the leap over to the dark side and has never looked back. She has a true passion for what she does and loves being part of the Global Media Desk team. The best part of her job is getting to see the Global Media Desk make projects a reality!