Drone Regulations, Laws and Certification in India: Do you have questions? We have answers! Nowadays, drones are a part of our lives. Whether it’s the delivery of goods, survey and inspection or surveillance purposes — drone technology is here to stay. Drone regulations and laws, however, is something that we need to figure out quickly.
Drones are only legal in India if you get the mandatory permits from the aviation regulator. It is important to know which drone laws India including commercial drone rules and regulations apply to your drone activities in India.
Drone flying is fun, isn’t? But not everyone knows that flying a drone can be full of risks and consequences if you are unaware of the imposed laws governing it. It’s not just about the fines can run into lakhs of rupees or even jail time of up to 3 years as in some cases.
Are you planning to fly your drone in India? If yes, then you must definitely learn about the drone laws in India. This article provides all the relevant information that is required to know before flying a drone in India.
Drone Operating In India Require Permission
To operate a drone in India you need to first apply for permission from the director general of civil aviation (DGCA). This permission is granted only for specific drones and specific locations.
You must apply for permission before flying a drone, and it is also necessary to register your drone with the DGCA. Any drone weighing over 2kg must have your name and address written on it.
You Must Register Your Drone With Dgca
People flying drones in India must first register the drone on the DGCA website, and each drone will need to be registered individually. You will need to give details such as your name, address, and phone number.
You will also need to provide information about your drone including the model, serial number, weight and size of your drone. After you finish registration you will receive a unique identification number that you must display on your drone when you fly it.
You Must Mark Your Name And Address On Drone
Because you are responsible for the drone, you have to put your name and address on it, along with the registration number assigned to your drone by the DGCA.
Registration must be renewed every year before January 31. If you don’t get your drone registered, or if you use it without permission from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), then you can face a fine of up to INR 25,000.
You Will Be Fined If You Use A Drone Without Permission
Flying drones in India is permitted by the country’s government, but there are a few rules that must be followed. These rules limit where drones can be flown and require a permit for flying in some places.
If you fly your drone without the proper registration or in violation of the rules, you may be subject to fines from your local Indian officials.
Prohibited Areas Include Airports, International Borders
Flying of drones is prohibited within 5 km radius from airport boundaries. While the new norms allow flying a drone within 1 km of an airport, it has to be with permission from the concerned airport authority.
The rules also require drone operators to obtain permissions from local police for flying UAVs in people’s private properties or public events and gatherings.
Drone operations are restricted in areas such as Vijay Chowk, Rashtrapati Bhavan and Parliament House in Delhi, state secretariats in all states, strategic locations identified by armed forces and vital installations of railways and metro network etc.
Flying Drones In India Is Illegal Without Government
As a drone enthusiast, you have to keep in mind that flying drones in India is illegal without the prior permission of DGCA. In 2016, DGCA banned any use of drones in the Indian airspace unless with their special permission.
Those using a drone without permission will be fined and face legal action as per The Aircraft Act 1934 and The Aircraft Rules of 1937.
Furthermore, under the law, all drones should be marked with the name and address of their owner prior to flying them for commercial purposes or recreation.
Are Drones Allowed In India
New Rules Provide For Three Categories Of Drones
Nano drones weigh less than 250 grams, micro drones weigh between 250 grams and 2 kg, and small ones weigh over 2 kg but not more than 25 kg.
Drones that weigh over 25 kg have been classified as ‘unmanned aircraft’ by the aviation regulator in its draft civil aviation requirements (CAR) for remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) or drones.
Ban On The Use Of Drones At Night.
There are restrictions on the use of drones in India, during both day and night. The most important of them is a blanket ban on the use of drones at night. According to a report, you can fly your drone anytime between sunrise and sunset.
But, you will also have to ensure that you don’t fly higher than 200 m above mean sea level (unless permitted by DGCA). You cannot fly your drone in low visibility conditions either.
Restrictions On Where They Can Be Flown.
There are also restrictions on where they can be flown. In India, drones are not allowed to fly over and within 50 km of international border, within 5 km of Vijay Chowk in Delhi, within 5 km of strategic locations and vital military installations, within 5 km of state secretariat complexes, within 3 km of airports and within 3 km of military airfields.
Additionally, during the restricted hours of sunset till sunrise or during bad weather conditions like rain and fog when visibility is poor, flying a drone is prohibited in India.
According to the laws issued by the DGCA, a drone must not be flown at an altitude above 400 feet (120 m) to prevent collisions with airplanes and helicopters that fly at higher altitudes.
Also, it has been stated that there should always be a direct line-of-sight between the operator and his/her drone at all times for safe operations.
Further restrictions for hobbyists include using their drones only for personal use and not for commercial purposes or sharing images/videos captured by them on social media platforms without prior consent from DGCA.
No Drones Will Be Allowed To Fly Above 200 Metres.
Drones would be allowed to fly up to 400 feet (approximately 120m) in the US, and 500 feet (approximately 150m) in the UK. In India, no drones will be allowed to fly above 200 metres.
No one is quite sure why the Indian government felt that 200 metres was the right height for their drones to operate at. It could have something to do with how high you can stand a building before it becomes unsafe.
Or it could have something to do with how high your drone can travel before you lose sight of it completely. Whatever the reason might be, we’re pretty sure that if a drone is flying at 199 metres, there’s no possible way it can cause as much damage as one flying at 201 metres.
Drones Can Only Be Operated Within Visual Line-of-sight
Drones can only be operated in the day and within visual line-of-sight (VLOS), and cannot be flown within 50 km of international borders.
Drones are prohibited from being flown in no-fly zones, which include areas near airports and military airbases, Vijay Chowk in Delhi as well as state secretariat complexes. Operators have to follow instructions related to flying drones issued by the DGCA.
Nano Drones Weigh Less Than 250 Grams
Drones are categorized by weight: nano drones weigh less than 250 grams (g), micro drones are those that weigh between 250 g and 2 kg, and small ones are those that weigh over 2 kg but not more than 25 kg. Drones weighing more than 25 kg are not allowed.
Drones That Weigh Over 25 Kg Have Been Classified As ‘unmanned Aircraft’
- In December 2017, the civil aviation ministry issued a directive that classified drones weighing over 25 kg as unmanned aircraft, which will require a special permit from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
- The DGCA has said that it is working on regulations for drones in India. For now, the air traffic control (ATC) permission is “mandatory” for operating drones in India.
Nano Drones Can Fly Only At A Maximum Height Of 50 Metres
Nano drones are the smallest and lightest ones, and can be used only for indoor purposes. Micro drones weigh up to 2 kilos and can be used for both indoor as well as outdoor uses. Small drones weigh more than 2 kilos and are meant for outdoor use only.
India Has Issued The Draft Guidelines For Flying Drones
The draft guidelines will be applicable to all drones and drone operators in India. To operate a drone, the operator will have to register it with the DGCA.
The registration process has been made online. After registering on the website, the Indian Civil Aviation Ministry will issue a Unique Identification Number (UIN) for each drone.
To fly a drone in India, the operator will have to obtain an Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit (UAOP). This permit is issued based on flexibility of usage and area of operation, as well as purpose of use of each drone.
Only those drones having a weight greater than 250 grams need to obtain UAOP for flying in India. The permit costs Rs 25000 per year for five years and can be renewed after five years by paying another Rs 25000 only.
Currently there are three types of UAOP permits available:
- Special – This permit is granted by DGCA if you want to fly your UAV within an Indian airport area or within 5 km from an airport boundary or any other restricted area that falls within 5 km from an Indian international border including Line of Control (LoC), Line of Actual Control (LAC) and Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL).
- A special permit also allows you to fly your UAV up to 200 feet above ground level anywhere in India except places mentioned above where it requires a separate permit from Airports Authority of India (AAI).
- Any person who wants this special UAOP needs to get prior permission from AAI before flying his/her UAV at least 24 hours before flying time along with all required documents such as Original Permission Letter, Acknowledgement Form, Unmarked Photo Copy Of Valid Pilot License And Medical Certificate etc..
How To Register Drones In India
1.register Your Drone With Dgca
The first thing you need to do is apply for registration of your drone at the Digital Sky Platform.
- If your drone weighs more than or equal to 250g, then you need to apply for a Unique Identification Number (UIN) on the Digital Sky Platform.
- If your drone weighs less than 250g, then no need to register it with DGCA.
2. Select The Category Of Licensing Based
Under this platform, select the category of licensing based on the weight of your drone and its intended usage. There are four categories:
- Category 1 is for drones less than 250g. This includes toys such as quadcopters and hobbyist drones
- Category 2 is for drones between 250g to 2kg
- Category 3 is for drones weighing between 2kg to 25kg
- Category 4 is for drones above 25kg
3. You Will Be Directed To Another Page
If you are a drone hobbyist, you need to register your drone on this page. Here is the information you will require:
- Your email address and mobile number
- Your Aadhaar number or e-Aadhaar number
- If you don’t have an Aadhaar card, you need a copy of the first two pages of your passport, scanned and in JPG format
- If you are registering as a company or organization, an undertaking form that declares that all members are Indian citizens over 18 years old (you can find it here)
4. Upload Required Documents In Pdf Or Jpeg Format
Documents required for registration
- For Indians: Aadhaar card, PAN card, and driving license.
- For NRIs: Aadhaar card, passport, and PIO/OCI card.
- In the case of a company or an organization: proof of incorporation/registration certificate issued by the Registrar of Companies (ROC)/Government Department as applicable.
After this, upload required documents in PDF or JPEG format to proceed with the registration. The file size should not be more than 2MB.
5. You Can Also Pay A Registration Fee Of Rs 1000
Alternatively, you can pay a registration fee of Rs 1000 if you are registering for personal use. This fee is non-refundable and can be paid online.
6. You Will Then Receive An Acknowledgement Number
You will receive an Acknowledgement Number after you successfully submit your application request. Please note that if you lose the Acknowledgement Number, there is no way to retrieve it again. Therefore, please make sure to save it somewhere safe!
The Acknowledgement Number may take up to 2 business days to show up in your account, depending on how many other users are applying at the same time.
7. You Will Have To Collect An Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit
After you submit the application, you will receive an acknowledgement receipt from the DGCA website. You will have to collect the UAOP within 120 days of application through DGAC website portal by using your UAOP application number.
If you are registering for commercial use, then you will have to pay a fee of Rs 25000.
Before flying drone with UAOP, it is advisable to go through this document published by DGCA for safe flying of drones.
You Need To Fill Up A Form Online
In order to register your drone in India, you need to fill up a form online and pay any applicable fees. However, there are certain situations under which your drone will not be permitted to fly.
Once you have registered for the UAOP, you can file for permissions for a No Permission, No Takeoff (NPNT) compliant drone. NPNT compliant drones can also be used in areas that have been otherwise marked as no-fly zones by the government.
Frequently Asked Question (drone Laws India)
Can I Fly A Drone In India?
You can fly a drone in India only if you have a drone license. You can apply for a drone license online at the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) website.
If your application is approved, you will be issued with a Certificate of Registration and Licence (CRL). This CRL will allow you to fly drones up to 2 kgs/4.4 lbs and within visual line-of-sight (VLOS).
If you do not have a CRL or any other approval from DGCA, then flying drones would be considered illegal.
Can I Use A Drone For Commercial Purposes?
Yes, you can use a drone for commercial purposes. However, before doing so, you will need to get a license and permission from the operator of the location where you want to fly.
What Is The Maximum Altitude Of Flight Allowed?
The maximum altitude of flight is restricted to 500 ft or 500 meters. The drone also has to be within the visual line of sight.
You can fly your drone at any legal height above sea level, but if you want to fly above 400 feet or 120 meters you must have permission from the Civil Aviation Authority of India (CAIA). If you are not in this category, then the maximum height that you can fly is 400 feet or 120 meters above ground level.
What Is The Maximum Range Of The Drone?
The maximum range of the drone will depend on various factors like the weight of the drone, the battery life, the type of drone and the quality of components used.
The maximum range will be a function of the weight of the drone and its battery life. The lighter your payload is, then more likely you’ll get some decent flight time out of it.
Do I Need An Operator’s License To Fly A Drone?
Yes, you will need a license to fly a drone. In order to get the license, you need to pass a test and be at least 18 years old.
You can apply for your drone operator’s license through the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). You’ll need to pay Rs 1,000 as fee and upload proof of education/experience such as a degree or copy of your resume. If your application is approved within 60 days, you’ll receive an email from the DGCA with instructions on how to complete the process online.
Can Drones Be Used For Photography, Videography Etc. ?
Yes, you can use drones for photography, videography and other similar purposes. However, there are certain guidelines that need to be followed while using the drone.
For commercial purposes: If you want to use a drone for commercial purpose then you need to get a license from DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation). This will help you fly your drone legally and avoid any trouble with the authorities later on if they come across it during their random checks. You will also be able to carry out commercial activities like aerial photography and videography on a larger scale without any problems since you have received proper authorization from the government agency responsible for regulating these matters in India today
What Are The Rules For Flying In Populated Areas?
- You can only fly your drone in populated areas if you have permission from the owner of the area, or if there’s no-one around.
- Your drone must be flown below 400 feet (120m) from the ground at all times, unless it has a special permission to go higher than this limit.
- You cannot fly your drone within 5km of an airport with commercial flights (this includes helipads and seaplane bases), unless you have special authorization from Air Traffic Control (ATC).
- Do not fly within 50 meters of any public road or building without prior consent from local authorities, who will want to know what you plan on doing with your UAV before granting their approval
Predominantly, the laws in India are from NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) hence preventing the use of commercial UAVs. Commercial license is not yet issued and when it is, it would obviously be issued to those who already have an FAA license.
Therefore, to use UAVs commercially one will either have to get FAA license or wait until the Indian aviation authority issue their guidelines or issue a license. Laws in India are tough but then they do not allow flying over populated areas and that stops a big number of projects from happening.
Also, it’s important to note that while one can get a license for flying over land up to 400 ft. but no license is required if you fly below 200 ft.
All in all, I always stick to the mantra of “better safe than sorry”—so if you want to fly your drone in a location that may require additional paperwork or clearance, make sure you have it before you arrive.