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Visiting These Countries? You Might Want To Think Twice About Bringing Your Drone
There’s just something about a panning aerial shot that adds another level of “wow” to travel imagery.
However, drone owners should be aware that not all countries all welcoming of the remote-controlled aircrafts. The reasons for this are various and not always apparent, but while some countries have political, cultural, and religious beliefs that do not align with the interference of privacy often associated with the devices, others likely desire to control information and the manner in which it is obtained and disseminated.
Whatever the reason may be, you surely want to avoid taking your drone somewhere is it not welcome, or where bringing it may lead to you losing your aircraft, or worse, your freedom. Here are several countries you may want to think twice about bringing your drone to.
Contrary to what many believe, drone usage is technically legal in Egypt. However, to legally fly your drone in Egypt, you will need to obtain permission from the Egyptian Civil Aviation Authority, a process which has proven extremely difficult and near impossible if you do not speak Arabic.
In fact, TN previously interviewed travel curator and blogger Malaika Lue, who was detained by Egyptian authorities for 24 hours for bringing a drone in her carry-on luggage. Not a great way to start off your international getaway.
Cuba is another country in which drones are not explicitly forbidden, but getting permission to fly them is practically impossible. For one, the process of obtaining approval is lengthy and requires at least five separate authorizations from multiple government entities. Secondly, you’ll need to submit the exact coordinates of your desired filming location. Third, you won’t be able to fly the drone yourself.
In Cuba, drones can only be flown by IACC-accredited individuals, so you would need to hire one to film your footage for you. In order to become accredited, pilots must be citizens of Cuba and pass a rigorous health and agility examination. It likely comes as no surprise that only a few people have actually managed to become certified.
In 2016, Canadian traveler Chris Hughes was arrested and detained while flying his drone in Cuba. He was accused of being a spy for the United States government. Being arrested and thrown in jail in a foreign country is one of the last things anyone ever wants to experience!
Flying a drone in Iran has also proven to be a troublesome endeavor. In 2019, two Australian travel bloggers, Jolie King and Mark Firkin, were arrested while flying their drone in the country.
Similarly to the incident in Cuba, last year, Benjamin Briere, a French tourist visiting Iran, was detained for flying his drone and is currently battling charges of “spying and propaganda against the system.” If found guilty, he faces a lengthy prison sentence.
Flying a drone in India is supposed to be legal as long as you apply for and receive a permit to fly it in advance. For commercial flights, you must lease your drone to an Indian national to fly it for you.
However, even after following these protocols, many travelers have faced issues when attempting to bring their drone into the country. Unfortunately, a number of drone owners have had their drones wrongfully confiscated by Indian officials and never returned to them.
As you can see, although some countries have drone laws that, on paper, do not ban drone usage within their borders, the actual application of these laws is another matter altogether.
Barbados, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Madagascar, and Kenya all have legalized the use of drones, however, these nations have policies in effect that make it extremely difficult to obtain approval.
Others, such as Morocco, Kuwait, Nicaragua, Algeria, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia, have banned drone usage completely. It should also be noted that Oia, Santorini, Greece does not allow drones.
Since drone laws are constantly changing and vary greatly from country to country, it is imperative that you always conduct your own research on the latest rules and requirements prior to attempting to bring your drone to any foreign country. In addition to checking laws and regulations with the appropriate government agency, it might be worth speaking to other drone owners about their experiences traveling with their drone to different countries.