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Your flights to Lukla from Kathmandu may be diverted to Ramechhap Airport. Here’s Why!

Your flights to Lukla from Kathmandu may be diverted to Ramechhap Airport. Here’s Why!

Can I travel to Nepal with drone? Here’s a complete guide for you.

DRONE LAW IN NEPAL

Picture this: you are trekking to the Everest Base Camp, and suddenly, your eye catches the incredible sight of the Himalayas, including Everest. Your instinct urges you to catch an aerial glimpse of the mountains that loom over you. That’s when your drone comes into play. The drone can capture images and videos that your naked eyes and camera lens literally cannot. The drone is that gadget that adds a unique perspective to your visual storytelling. Drone footage of Nepal and its beauty has become a rare essential for videographers, travel vloggers, travel influencers, photographers, and digital nomads. And if you are up for it, you need to know drone law in Nepal. So, let’s dive in and understand drone law in Nepal and the procedures to get drone registration and drone permits.

Classifications of Drone

The government of Nepal has classified the drone into four categories based on the drone weights, also known as Maximum Take-off Weight (MTOW) and assigned the corresponding risk level to it. Drones weighing less than 250 grams are under category A with very low risk, while drones weighing more than 25 kg has the highest level of risk. Let’s look at the four categories of drones in Nepal.

Basis Category A Category B Category C Category D
Weight Up to 250 grams 250 grams-2  kilograms 2 kilogram -25  kilograms Above 25 kilogram
Risk Very Low Risk Low Risk Regulated Low Risk Regulated High Risk
Drone Example DJI Mini 3 Pro Phantom 4 Pro DJI Matrice Series Industrial drones with payloads

Note: If your drone weighs less than 2 kilograms, and given that you are flying on private property under 200 feet, you need not obtain a permit from CAAN. And you cannot operate drone that weighs more than 25 kg.

Documents Required for Drone Registration and Permits in Nepal

You must first register your drone and then apply for a drone permit. For the registration of drones, also officially referred to as UAS (Unmanned Aircraft System), you as an individual or an organization can apply. The registration form contains the list of documents required and fee payment instructions. The authority shall assign you a Unique Identification Number (UIN) for your drone, valid for a year. Please note that the drone permit is valid for 3 months.

Here is the list of documents and details you need to obtain drone registration in Nepal:

  • A copy of your passport
  • A recent colored passport-size photograph
  • A copy of the drone manual and specification
  • Color picture or copy of drone showing model and serial number
  • Purpose of Operation
  • Copy of VAT bill from the retailer (if purchased in Nepal) or copy of the customs clearance certificate if imported
  • Information of the drone:
  1. manufacturer name
  2. drone model
  3. drone serial number
  4. manufactured date or year
  5. drone type
  6. payload type
  7. take-off weight (kg)
  8. drone color
  9. retailer name

Drone Registration Procedures in Nepal

The drone registration procedures in Nepal are fairly simple. You, as entitled to the possession of the drone and operator of it in Nepal, must register the drone and hold a valid certificate of registration from CAAN. Below is the general guide on drone registration according to the current legislation:

Understand Applicable Regulations

You have to familiarize yourself with the Nepal drone regulations outlined by the CAAN. The rules are simple and mandatory to follow while operating drones in Nepal. You can ascertain your drone’s category by referring to the classification provided by the CAAN. You can also check the permissible uses of the drone and operational restrictions.

Prepare Required Documents

Now that you are familiar with the regulations, gather the necessary documents for drone registration. We have already compiled the list of documents for drone registration. These documents include proof of identification, detailed specifications of the drone, and additional paperwork specified by the CAAN.

Register Your Drone

The next step is to register your drone. If your drone weighs less than 2 kilograms, you do not require authorization from the CAAN. However, you must obtain prior permissions from the Department of Tourism, Ministry of Home Affairs, and particular National Park permits. For instance, if you’re flying a drone in the Annapurna Conservation Area, you must have permission and permits from the government authorities and the conservation area project.

The CAAN shall register your drone upon receipt of an application with the required documents and details and issue a Drone Certificate of Registration and UIN. It shouldn’t take more than 2-3 working days to use the registration certificate. Please be informed that the registration does not permit you to fly without a valid permit obtained from the appropriate authority. After receiving the registration certificate, you can further proceed to obtain a permit, which is not so difficult.

Drone Permit in Nepal

In addition to drone registration, you must obtain a drone permit; otherwise, you are prohibited from operating drones in Nepal. For a drone permit, you must produce a registration certification and have the following letters:

  1. Letters of compliance issued by the Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Home Affairs, and Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal.
  2. Letter from your trekking agency
  3. A letter of commitment to adhere to the rules and regulations of drones.

Here are 3 steps to obtain a drone permit in Nepal:

Step 1: Once you have registered, fill out the form and submit the following documents: registration certificate, flight information, and letter of authorization.

Step 2: You must get approval from the respective authorities: Ministry of Home Affairs, Department of Tourism, CAAN, and concerned Conservation Area and National Parks.

Step 3: After going through your documents, you will be issued permits which will be valid for only three months.

Drone Permits Cost in Nepal

The Civil Aviation Authority in Nepal (CAAN) charges you a certain amount and issues the drone permit. The payment of USD 10 plus 13% VAT has to be paid to Rastriya Banijya Bank through bank deposit or Connect IPS. The permit fee is subject to change based on the time of application and in accordance with the regulations set forth by the CAAN.

Rules of Flying Drones in Nepal

Below are the general rules for flying drones in Nepal:

  • For drones weighing more than 2 kilograms (4.5 pounds) that fly 400 feet or more above ground level, prior authorization from the Department of Tourism, Ministry of Home Affairs, and the CAAN is required.
  • Drones weighing less than 2 kilograms do not require authorization from the CAAN so long as they are flown on private property and under 200 feet.
  • Do not operate a drone on or within 5 km of an uncontrolled manned aerodrome.
  • Always maintain a visual line of sight with the drone or be in direct communication with the drone at all times.
  • Always operate the drone below any cloud base.
  • When operating the drone, always give way to and remain clear of all human-crewed aircraft on the ground. Do not fly within 50 meters (164 feet) of any vessel, vehicle, or structure.
  • Do not fly drones carelessly or recklessly; never endanger aviation safety or the safety of any person or property.
  • Never operate a drone under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Never use drones to drop articles or animals. Do not fly drones over or within 150 meters (492 feet) of any congested area.
  • Airport areas must be kept clear of all drone activity.
  • A person shall not operate a drone or UA (Unmanned Aircraft) that weighs more than 25 kg.
  • Do not fly a drone over a person unless that person is directly participating in the operation of your drone. However, if the person has consented, then you can fly over or near them.

Restricted Areas in Nepal for Drone

You are strictly not allowed to fly in No-Fly Zones. Below are the restricted areas in Nepal for drone flights:

  • The airport area within 5 km
  • The international boundary within the area of a 5 km horizontal distance
  • Religious, heritage, and sacred sites
  • Residence areas of highly authoritative People like President, Vice-President, PM, and VVIP office
  • Military areas
  • Conservation areas (allowed if you secure a permit and registration certificate)
  • Conflict and war zones

Consequences of Violating Drone Rules in Nepal

What if you violate the rules and regulations associated with drone operations in Nepal? Is it possible to operate the drone without registration and permits? To answer that, we need to clearly acknowledge that there are certain consequences to violating drone rules and regulations outlined by CAAN. You will be subject to legal implications and penalties.

While there are no such measures to check your registration and permit, we highly suggest you register and obtain a permit for drone operation in Nepal. You will be fined up to NPR 5000 based on the severity of breaching the rules and may also be held in custody. The authorities have every right to confiscate your drone should they find you operating the drone without a permit.

Tips for Flying a Drone in Nepal

Flying a drone in Nepal, like in any other country, requires adherence to local regulations and responsible drone operation. Following are some careful considerations you should follow while flying a drone in Nepal:

  • Understand the drone regulations set by the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN).
  • Obtain the necessary permits or approvals from government officials required for drone flights.
  • Be aware of no-fly zones such as airports, military areas, and other sensitive areas.
  • Prioritize safety by conducting pre-flight checks on your drone.
  • Always fly in good weather conditions, and avoid flying in adverse weather such as rain. Never operate at night, in or into a cloud, or in conditions other than visual meteorological conditions.
  • Always keep your drone within your line-of-sight.
  • Respect people’s privacy and avoid capturing images or videos of individuals without their consent
  • Avoid flying in crowded areas
  • Do not fly drones from moving vehicles or manned aircraft.

Drone FAQS in Nepal

Is drone registration mandatory in Nepal?

Yes, you are legally bound to register your drone before you operate it in Nepal.

Is drone insurance mandatory in Nepal?

No, it is not mandatory.

Is recreational and commercial use of drones permitted in Nepal?

Yes, after registration and approval from the concerned authorities in Nepal.

Is the drone permit refundable?

No, it is non-refundable and is valid for single entries only.

Can I bring a drone from Australia to Nepal?

Yes. Make sure to get a customs clearance certificate from the Customs Office at the airport in Kathmandu.

Where do I have to go to register a drone in Nepal?

You will have to visit the CAAN office in Sinamangal, Kathmandu. The contact details are: Phone no: 4111115, 4111075, 4111042, and email: drone@caannepal.gov.np.

Can You Fly Drone at Everest Base Camp?

Yes, you can.  As long as you have the proper local authority’s permits and permissions, you can fly to create extraordinary scenes and shots at and around Everest Base Camp. Honestly, it can be a bit of a hassle at times to get permission. The CDO officials may demand the permits, including passport and paperwork at checkpoints. Please be mindful that drone flights in the Everest region might be restricted to protect the natural surroundings and the safety of climbers.

Everest Base Camp Trek

Most famous trek in the world. Starts and ends in Kathmandu. Stunning scenery and a life changing experience.

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First thing first, you have to check the functionality of your drone at high altitude, above 5000 meters, and if your drone can handle thinner air above sea level. The wind at high altitudes can create a challenging environment for drones to operate smoothly. It is said that the performance of the drone and its battery is limited when flying at high altitudes. Of course, the battery won’t last as long as in lower altitudes, and strong winds will make the drone fight the thin air harder.

You will need the following permits to fly at the Everest Base Camp:

  1. CAAN registration and permit
  2. Letter from Home Ministry, Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Federal Affairs, and General Administration
  3. Letter from your travel agency
  4. Letter of commitment to adhere to the rules and regulations of drone.
  5. Sagarmatha National Park Permit
  6. Authorization letter from the Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA)
  7. Biodata of the drone pilot

Please be aware that regulations are subject to change. It is advisable to regularly check the official websites for the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) to stay updated on the latest rules, permits, and regulations pertaining to drone operations.

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