Got a drone you want to use in the UAE or you're looking to buy your own drone? Here is what you need to know first!
5 July 2023| Last updated on 6 July 2023
A guide to drones in the UAE: What is allowed and what isn't permitted.
For many photographers and videographers, drones help them capture stunning aerial views that they otherwise might not be able to reach with their cameras.
In countries like the United Arab Emirates (UAE), there are loads of opportunities for gorgeous photos and videos that can be taken from great heights, such as the cityscapes, the rocky mountains of Ras Al Khaimah, the lush green landscapes in Al Ain, and much more!
However, before you purchase a drone or bring your drone over from abroad, it's important to know what the legalities are when it comes to using a drone in the UAE.
What are drones?
Drones (unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVS) are unmanned aircrafts that are controlled remotely, with the pilot being able to see the route thanks to the camera and GPS in the drone.
These flying machines are commercially accessible in a lot of countries, and are typically used for doing research such as animal tracking and archeology, for military use, traffic monitoring, border surveillance, search and rescue, and other activities.
Drones are also used to take pictures and videos of scenes that would otherwise be difficult to access or are expensive to capture.
Are private drones allowed in the UAE?
To protect the public's safety and security both on air and on land, flying a drone is forbidden in the UAE without a no-objection certificate (NOC) and registration with relevant authorities.
Who can be given permission to operate UAVs in the UAE?
On January 2022, UAE officials banned the use of drones for recreational purposes such as camera recording and research.
Only companies and commercial work that rely on filming using drones can apply for exceptions and permits to carry out their projects.
What are the fines for operating a drone in the UAE?
Penalties for violating these rules can include imprisonment and up to AED 50,000 in fines, as per Article 69 of the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA)
No-fly zones for drones in the UAE
There are two general locations where drones are not allowed to be operated in.
The GCAA and Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA) prohibits residents and visitors from flying drones near, around, and over airports.
To protect people's privacy, UAE authorities also forbids flying drones over homes and residential areas.
Where to register your drone in the UAE?
Companies and commercial/advertising projects that need to rely on drones for their projects can approach the DCAA authorities for a legal permit or certificate. Drones that are for non-commercial purposes (personal use) are still banned in the UAE.
How to get a permit or licence to use a drone in the UAE?
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to apply for a commercial drone permit or licence in the UAE, which also involves passing a GCAA exam.
Requirements to apply for commercial-use drone licence in the UAE:
- Must be a business or commercial operator. Personal-use drones are not allowed as of now.
- Emirates IDs of the pilots and personnel who be flying the drone and handling its other operations.
- Details of the business or organisation that will be using the drone for commercial purposes.
- Passport details of the personnel responsible for handling the drone and its related activities.
- Serial number(s) of the drone(s).
- Drone manufacturer information.
- Model number of the camera on the drone (if applicable).
- Weight of the drone with and without payload.
Step-by-step guide to apply for a UAE drone permit/licence for business use:
- Visit the official GCAA website to begin your application.
- Open the Drone Registration Application form for organisations.
- Fill in all the required details for the organisation or business, and the parties involved.
- Explain the purpose of the drone in the UAE, including the project, area of operations, project timings during the day or night, how high the drone will fly, etc.
- Fill in all the required details about the drone (manufacturer name, serial number, etc.)
- If all the required information has been added, please submit your application form.
- If your application is successful, the business or organisation will receive a GCAA Commercial Drone/UAS Certificate.