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If you’re a drone pilot, you know how much fun flying one can be. Nevertheless, you’re not alone. The worldwide drone industry is growing rapidly. In 2016, the FAA predicted that more than seven million drones or UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) would be in use by 2020!

As with any quickly expanding new technology, governments and policymakers around the world are struggling to create rules which not only allow drones to fly but also protect citizens from privacy invasion and keep sensitive areas like airports and military installations safe.

So what are countries around the world doing to regulate drones? Let’s take a look at just a few to see how they’re handling UAVs. Please note: In most countries, commercial drone flight requires additional permissions.

This guide focuses on recreational flight.

To fly a drone for recreation in the United States, pilots need to adhere to the following rules:

  1. You are required to register your drone with the FAA at
  2. You will need to follow general safety guidelines established by communities like the Academy of Model Aeronautics.
  3. Your drone must be kept within a visual line of sight.
  4. To fly a drone heavier than 55 pounds, it will need to be certified by a community organization like the AMA.
  5. Flight near other aircraft is prohibited.
  6. Prior notification is required if you plan to fly within five miles of an airport.
  7. You cannot fly a drone near emergency response efforts.

Recreational drone piloting is permitted in the UK under the following conditions:

  1. Your drone must be operated in a safe manner.
  2. You must keep your UAV in a direct line of sight to ensure it cannot collide with anything.
  3. You cannot fly your drone in a manner that endangers anyone.
  4. Drones can only be flown at or below an altitude of 122 meters.
  5. If your UAV has an attached camera, additional restrictions apply to its operation, and you should consult the United Kingdom’s Civil Aviation Authority website for more information.
  6. A drone cannot be operated with 150 meters of any organized gathering of more than 1,000 people. Additionally, UAVs may not be flown with 50 meters of any person or property which the drone pilot does not have control over.
  7. Drones cannot be flown within 1 kilometer of the boundary of protected aerodromes without prior permission.
  8. You cannot drop anything from your drone in a manner which can cause harm to persons or property.

Here are the primary requirements pilots need to be aware of when operating a drone in France.

  1. Any drone weighing 800g or more is required to be registered with France’s drone web portal AlphaTango. A registration number will be issued which must be displayed on the UAV so that it can be read from at least 30 centimeters.
  2. You drone must be within sight at all times unless additional observers are employed.
  3. UAVs may not be operated at night without special permission.
  4. Drones cannot be operated over airports, people, private property, prisons, nuclear power plants, military installations, national parks, or historical monuments.
  5. Drones cannot be operated over fires, scenes of accidents, or emergency operations.
  6. Drones are not allowed to be flown above an altitude of 150 meters or 50 meters above buildings 100 meters in height.

To operate a drone in Australia, pilots must obey the following rules:

  1. Drones can only be operated during the day and within a direct line of sight.
  2. Drones can only be piloted at or below an altitude of 120 meters.
  3. Your drone must remain at least 30 meters from other people at all times.
  4. UAVs cannot be flown over areas where public safety is a concern, such as emergency operations.
  5. Each pilot can operate only one drone at a time.
  6. Drone usage is not permitted at places where people gather including parks, beaches, and sporting events.
  7. You may not photograph or record people without their consent.

To fly a drone in Russia, pilots must adhere to the following:

  1. Drone flight can only occur during the day with clear weather.
  2. Drones must be registered if they weigh more than 250 grams.
  3. Pilots must maintain a visual line of sight to their drone at all times.
  4. Drones may not be operated over large crowds.
  5. You cannot fly a drone over military installations.
  6. Drone flight is not permitted over the Kremlin or Red Square.

Drone Bans

These are the countries where drone usage is banned.

  1. Algeria
  2. Barbados
  3. Brunei
  4. Cote d’lvoire
  5. Cuba
  6. Iran
  7. Iraq
  8. Kuwait
  9. Kyrgyzstan
  10. Madagascar
  11. Morocco
  12. Nicaragua
  13. Saudi Arabia
  14. Senegal
  15. Syria

As you can see, many countries’ laws are similar in their approach to regulating drone activity. This list highlights only five of the world’s major nations. Rules and laws governing drone flight vary around the world and UAV pilots should consult their own country’s guidelines before flying. With a little foresight, you can operate within the law, help keep your community safe, and still enjoy your drone.

Abby Drexler is a contributing writer and media specialist for BWI Aviation Insurance.

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