Understanding Drone Regulation in Nepal

Demystify the legalities surrounding drone operations in Nepal to ensure your aerial adventure amidst the Himalayas is hassle-free.

Understanding Drone Regulation in Nepal

With the impeccable development in technology, the way we travel and capture our memories has also changed a lot over the years. Gadgets like drones have highly started replacing the likes of camera and mobile phones even in case of Nepal.

After all, who is not fascinated by the idea of capturing the breathtaking visuals of the snowcapped mountains in HD soaring high in the sky, especially while trekking through the Himalayas?

However, beyond this fascination lie many important questions surrounding the legality of drone in Nepal. Many people wonder if we can bring a drone to Nepal.

Therefore, with this blog we aim to address all your queries and demystify the confusion surrounding drone operations in Nepal.

Can we bring drone to Nepal?

So, is drone legal in Nepal? A simple answer to this is yes. You can bring drone to Nepal. But you must follow proper procedure and obtain a flying permit while complying to all the regulations put in place by the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN).

Read on and get all the knowledge required to capture the stunning beauty of Nepal while flying legally and responsibly.

Bringing Drone to Nepal

While bringing a drone to Nepal is legal and possible, you must have a reasonable purpose for it. It is important that you are mindful of certain things while carrying your drone in the airlines.

Be Aware of Airlines Regulation

If you are planning to bring a drone to Nepal, it is important that you check the regulations put in place by your airline and the connecting airline, if any. Each airline has specific rules that you must adhere to.

Some of them might have additional restrictions related to the weight or size of the drone while some of them might ask you for extra packaging and documentation.

Carrying Drone in Airlines

While carrying a drone on airlines, you must adhere to the safety guidelines and take proper safety precautions. Some of these include:

  • Making sure that your drone is not equipped with any dangerous material.
  • Removing the battery of the drone before security check and storing the drone and battery separately.
  • Packing the drone in a secure and sturdy, preferably padded container.
  • Labelling the drone can make the security check process easier.
  • Carry your drone in the cabin luggage instead of the check-in bag.

Custom Clearance in Nepal

Upon landing in Nepal, you must clear your drone at the customs which might need you to present documents related to the drone. This custom clearance certificate is mandatory for you to register your drone in Nepal.

Drone Category in Nepal

AVery Low RiskLess than 250 gms
BLow Risk250 gms to 2 kg
CRegulated Low Risk2 kg to 25 kg
DRegulated High RiskAbove 25 kg

Drone registration in Nepal

It is mandatory to register the flight equipment used for any purpose with the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal and obtain a unique identification number (UIN) for your device.

This is important because after obtaining the UIN you must paste it on the device by mentioning it on a SIM or an ID tag or a secure plate.

To register your drone and obtain a UIN, you must fill up a registration form and visit the Flight Safety Standard Department (FSSD) for further procedure. Make sure to carry along your drone and the following documents:

  • Duly filled Application Form- RPA/Form/001 for Drone Registration
  • Passport Size color Photograph of applicant
  • Photograph of drone showing drone serial number
  • Copy of Foreign Passport with valid visa of Nepal
  • Tribhuvan International Airport Custom Declaration of Drone
  • Registration fee USD 10 plus 13 % VAT
  • Purpose of Operation and Letter of commitment – RPA/Form/002

All these documents should be compulsorily attested with the application form to be submitted at the CAAN.

Drone Flying Permit

Permit Requirements in Nepal

For Category “A” and Category “B” RPA/Drone above 200 feet AGL, an application should be submitted to the relevant district administration office and in the case of others, to the Government of Nepal, Ministry of Home Affairs.

To obtain a permit, one will require the following documents to submit with the application:

  • Certificate of registration of the equipment with the Civil Aviation Authority and a flight consent letter.
  • Details regarding the purpose of the flight, the desired area and location of the flight (Flight Details, Google/Flight Location Map), the period of starting and completing the flight should be clearly stated.
  • Authorization letter given to local person or agency in case of foreign national or organization.
  • Biodata, citizenship or passport of person operating the RPA. Valid Visa in case of foreign national.
  • Operator’s commitment to compliance with the flying conditions.

Permit Process in Nepal

If you are wondering how to get a drone license in Nepal, the answer is going through a thorough process.

The process of obtaining a drone permit in Nepal is rather lengthy and time consuming and requires you to go through lots of steps and hassle. However, for those who are interested in obtaining one, the following steps must be followed:

  • Register your drone with CAAN and obtain a Unique Identification Number that must be displayed on the drone. You can find the application form here and register online by visiting this site.
  • Take approval from the respective authorities: District Administration Office for drones weighing less than 2 kg, Information Department Office and Ministry of Home Affairs for drones weighing more than 2 kg.
  • Approval is required from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Department of Tourism, Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, and Concerned Conservation Area/ National Parks in case of foreigners.
  • If your drone has bandwidth exceeding 2.4 MHz, clearance from the Information Department is mandatory.
  • Upon getting approval, proceed to fill in an application form along with all the documents mentioned above.

Once you have completed these steps, the authority concerned will go through your application and grant you the permit.

Get all the details regarding the protocols of drone operation, documents required for registration, and the application forms in the official website of CAAN related to drone operations.

Permit Validity

The permit that you obtain after this thorough process will be valid only for a duration of three months. Once those three months are over, you can request an extension if your reason is genuine.

However, be mindful to not fly your drone after your permit has expired as it might lead to serious legal actions based on the law.

Permit Cancellation

If you are operating a drone in Nepal, your awareness doesn’t just extend up to receiving the permit. You must be equally careful about the flying conditions once you have received the permit.

The agency responsible for granting you the permit can also cancel the permit if your flight is found to be violating any of the extensive conditions listed on the regulatory issued by CAAN provided to you during the permit procedure.

Flying Drones in National Parks and Conservation Areas

One of the main reasons why you would want to bring a drone to Nepal is to capture the stunning vista of the snowcapped peaks and the beautiful landscapes in the country, more so in the trekking routes of Nepal.

All the treks of Nepal lie within national parks and conservation areas. Therefore, if you are an intrepid trekker wanting to capture the majestic beauty of the Himalayas, you would want to know the process surrounding flying drones in national parks and conservation areas.

All the national parks and conservation areas in Nepal take the trekkers through a similar and extensive process when it comes to permitting a drone operation.

One must obtain a permit from the Department of National Parks and Conservation Area. For this, you must first complete a series of steps and obtain certain documents.

To legally fly your drone in the National Parks and Conservation Area, for e.g. Sagarmatha National Park area, you must follow these steps:

  • Register the drone with Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (as mentioned above)
  • Submit permit application to Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (MOCIT)
  • The MOCIT will send agreement letter to Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation including Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation
  • Once all the clearances are obtained need, then you need to pay the permit fee

Drone Usage Classification

As per the guidelines by CAAN, drone usage in Nepal is classified based on the purpose of the flight and the area where the drone is being flown. It is important that the drone operators understand this classification for responsible drone operation.

Based on Task or Purpose

  • Study and Research Work
  • Purpose related to disaster management
  • Service delivery and development management
  • Work related to literature, arts, tourism, culture, or religion
  • Journalism or Mass Communication projects
  • Military and Security Purposes

Based on Sensitivity of an Area

  • General Sensitivity: Uninhabited areas and open areas except for protected or controlled areas
  • Medium Sensitivity: Human inhabitations, communities, protected and reserved areas
  • Sensitive Areas: Areas housing government offices, diplomatic establishments, hospitals, health centers, areas with cultural, religious, archaeological, and historical importance, airport areas, air routes, aviation operation areas, areas with military or security agencies.

Who Doesn’t Need a Drone Permit?

A drone permit is mandatory to have to fly drones while in Nepal. However, the permit is subjective and depends on the area that you want to fly your drone in.

Before delving into the deep rules and regulations surrounding drone operation in Nepal, have a look at people and occasions that don’t require you to have a drone permit:

  • Category “A” and Category “B” of the Remotely Piloted Aircrafts (RPA) weighing up to 2 kg will not require permission to fly at a maximum height of 200 feet within the perimeter of an educational study center or university with the prior approval of the relevant educational institution or study center. In this type of flight, the concerned flyer has to take all the responsibility related to the operation and safety of the flight. Before flying in such an area, the nearest police or security unit must be informed. Flying in a way that violates personal privacy or violates other provisions of this procedure shall not be allowed.
  • The government offices of the Government of Nepal at the local, regional and local levels may fly Category “A” Category “B” RPA/Drone up to a maximum of 200 feet above ground level for government work purposes after giving prior information to the local administration/police. (Government office means an institution, project or office wholly owned or controlled by the Union, State and local governments)
  • Individually organized programs, cultural, religious or traditional festivals/festivals (Ceremony) for recreational purpose (Recreational Purpose) within your home or area by informing the local police within a maximum of 50 ft. of Category “A”. Flying RPA/Drone at AGL does not require permission to fly. But the other conditions set for RPA/Drone flight must be followed. Also, it should not disturb the security system.

Drone Restricted Areas in Nepal

While flying drone with a permit is very much legal in Nepal, there are certain areas where you cannot operate the drone despite having the permit.

These restrictions have been imposed keeping in mind the sanctity of certain sites. Some of these areas are prohibited to ensure national security and public safety.

  • Within the 1-km aerial radius of the residences of the Prime Minister, President, Vice-President, Singha Durbar (an important government office), and the VVIP office
  • Within 5 km horizontal distance from the international borders
  • Durbar Square- Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, and Patan
  • The World Heritage Sites and sacred sites in Kathmandu, namely Pashupatinath, Swayambhu Nath, and Boudhhanath
  • Within one kilometer radius of historical and archaeological places like the Maitighar Mandala, Budhanilkantha, and more.
  • Conflict and war-torn areas of Nepal
  • Up to a 1 km radius of military and security offices and a 500-meter radius of other safety agencies
  • Conservational areas, national parks, and wildlife reserves
  • In the vicinity of airports and helipads

While these are the general restrictions, there might be additional regional restrictions like around the border or in ecologically sensitive areas. So based on the area that you want to operate the drone in, conduct thorough research.

Also, cross check these restrictions with the time that you want to fly your drone in, as certain festivals and national events might add temporary restrictions to this list.

Drone Flying Conditions

Keeping in mind the security and safety concerns, the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal has put in place certain drone rules in Nepal. It is important to adhere to these conditions or else you won’t be granted a permit. If you already have one, it might be subject to cancellation.

  • Permission should be obtained from the Ministry of Communication and Information technology regarding the frequency for the flight and from Nepal Civil Aviation Authority for the flight.
  • Permission should be asked while flying in the air worthiness and in a way that doesn’t affect the religious and cultural heritages, security sensitive places, and the air route. Permission will not be granted if the flight disrupts the privacy and the security system.
  • For RPA/Drone, Flying Camera flight permission, details related to the drone, the person/organization, the flight and flight duration must be submitted by the concerned person/organization.
  • It is not allowed to fly RPA/Drone, Flying Camera within 1 km Aerial Radial Distance of security agencies and other sensitive areas. If found, the security agency can take control of such RPA/Drone, confiscate it and take action according to the law.
  • Even though the flight permit of RPA/Drone has been obtained, the local administration must be informed at the time of flight. If requested by the security agency, the footage captured by the drone must be provided.
  • RPA/Drone control is carried out generally by 3 methods: automatic, programmable, and operated by remote control device via radio transmission.
  • Since RPA/Drone can interfere with communication in search, rescue and relief operations in disaster areas, RPA/Drone may not be flown without immediate permission during disaster.
  • RPA/Drone cannot be flown designated No Fly Zones like personal residences, public areas, areas of religious and cultural significance and important archaeological areas.
  • The Specified Endurance of RPA should be limited to 15 minutes, the Range should be limited to 300 meters (Horizontal Distance) from the user and the flight of RPA/Drone should be limited to 100 meters (Altitude).
  • As the No-Fly Zone has been designated up to 5 km horizontal distance from the international border, no kind of RPA/Drone can be flown in that area.
  • To fly RPA/Drone for commercial purposes, a letter of recommendation from the relevant ministry must also be submitted.
  • The frequency received from the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology to operate the remote control of RPA/Drone should not affect the communication system of the security agency, and the relevant party should arrange for the automatic sharing of data from the RPA/Drone with the security agency.
  • During disaster or other crisis, domestic or foreign experts with the government of Nepal can fly RPA/Drone of specially approved capacity for the designated area and time with the approval of the Civil Aviation Authority and the Government of Nepal. The RPA/Drone should be flown only under the authority of the security/liaison officer in the Control area.
  • You cannot use a drone to transport explosives, biological weapons, objects posing a threat to security, animals and human beings.
  • When security agencies are flying RPA/Drone, they should coordinate with relevant ministries and civil aviation authorities.
  • The flight permit will not be transferred to another person or organization.
  • Proof of third-party insurance is required to fly Category C and D RPA/Drone.

Need for Drone Permit

The rules are regulations when the airspace of Nepal is concerned comes due to many reasons. While legalizing flying drones provides uncountable advantages of drone technology, it is equally important for the country to protect its cultural, natural, and security interests.

Therefore, to build this tandem, the drone permit is put in place by the CAAN (Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal). Some of the reasons why a drone permit is important are as follows:

Can you fly a drone without permit in Nepal?

Note that flying a drone without a permit is illegal in Nepal and can lead to serious repercussions like arrest or fine, severity of which depends on the level of violation caused.

Mitigating Safety Hazards

The towering and heavenly peaks of Nepal are one of the main reasons why people, especially tourists, would want to obtain a drone permit. However, the air is very thin at that altitude and operating a drone might be challenging if not impossible.

The low visibility on top of that adds to the challenge and most of the time the pilot loses control of the drone. While it might just be another drone for the pilot, an uncontrolled drone in the airspace can be a big risk.

The drone colliding with a rescue helicopter or a supply carrying helicopter could lead to devastating consequences. An uncontrolled drone wandering off in the airspace could also cross international borders alarming the international security.

Thankfully, a permit lays restrictions on the operation of drones avoiding such hazardous situations.

Upholding Legal Standards

One of the advantages of having a drone is that it has multiple features like mic, camera with zoom lenses, and other sensors. And it doesn’t take time for these features to turn into hazards.

Drones can be used for several illegal and security breaching activities like spying, security attacks using concealed gadgets, cyber-crime, invasion of privacy, and breach of data that might pose a threat to national security.

With drone permits, the government can be in loop of what the drone is being used for while upholding the legal and ethical standards for drone usage.

Ensuring Responsible Tourism

The need to obtain a permit to operate drones makes the tourists aware of the responsible tourism practices like enjoying the wildlife from a safe distance while not disturbing their habitat, being respectful of the local customs, and many more.

Maintaining the Sanctity of Sensitive Areas

Home to numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Nepal boasts rich cultural heritage in the form of several monuments of historical and archaeological significance. Unique to the country, these monuments are considered protected areas.

Some of these areas are of utmost religious importance and are considered off limits when it comes to photography or videography to maintain the sanctity of these places. The best example of this is the Pashupatinath Temple.

The Nepal drone permit regulates the flight and prohibits the drone from capturing the intricacy of these cultural heritages or causing any kind of physical damage by flying in proximity.

Breaking Law/Punishment

The laws related to operating a drone in Nepal are quite strict and violating them can lead to serious actions like penalty or even arrest, depending on the severity of the violation.

These are the laws outlined by CAAN besides the cancellation of permit in case of swaying away from the protocols:

  • If you are found flying an RPA/Drone without a drone license in Nepal, the unauthorized drone will be confiscated and sent to the Civil Aviation Authority which will further auction the drone according to the prevailing laws/rules and record the proceeds in the revenue account.
  • If a person’s privacy has been violated or personal damage has been caused by the drone flight, action will be taken according to the prevailing law after receiving a petition from the victim.

Practices for Responsible Drone Usage

While home to breathtaking natural beauty, Nepal is also home to rich cultural heritage, customs, and traditions. Also, the concept of drones is not familiar in every region of Nepal.

Therefore, operating a drone in Nepal is not just limited to capturing the scenic beauty. This opportunity comes with a great responsibility of honoring and respecting the country’s tapestry of traditions, festivals, and sensitivities.

To ensure that you are operating a responsible flight, adhere to the practices listed below:

  • Make sure your drone is under control and keep it in your line of sight.
  • Be mindful to not invade other people’s privacy as you fly the drone.
  • Avoid flying the drone in crowded space and keep it at a safe distance from any nearby object.
  • Do not disturb wildlife and their natural habitats.
  • Respect the local customs and seek permission at places where it might seem necessary.
  • Maintain a respectful distance as you fly over the sacred sites as it might be considered a violation of their sanctity.
  • Avoid disruption and disturbance in residential areas and maintain a distance while capturing the natural tranquility in the landscapes of Nepal.
  • Take time to understand local customs as your seemingly innocuous flight might be disrupting any tradition or festive celebration.
  • Respect the restrictions and no-fly zones. Do not fly around the airport, especially around a plane.
  • It is advisable to avoid flying during nighttime.
  • Do not fly under the influence of any kind of substance.
  • Reflect on the footage captured before sharing it and try to edit out the disrespectful part in any way, if any.

All in all, following these guidelines and adhering to responsible drone flying practices can allow you to have a hassle-free, safe, legal, and an enjoyable experience in Nepal.

As a drone operator, make sure to obtain drone permission in Nepal and be respectful to the environment and the local culture while flying responsibly.

While flying a drone can help you capture stunning views of the landscapes, obtaining the permit for the flight is a bureaucratic nightmare and the drone permit cost in Nepal is also a concerning factor. Therefore, our friendly advice is to avoid bringing a drone and bring one if only absolutely necessary.

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