Flying a drone in India is considered legal. But there are few laws that make India unique and you must take note of them. That way, you don’t fly afoul of the law and get into trouble.
Special Travel Considerations
Foreigners are not allowed to fly drones in India. This means no selfie shots from the sky whilst you’re on your travels in the country. However, if you simply must, for commercial purposes, you could lease the drone to an Indian entity.
The Indian entity would then be able to obtain a Unique Identification Number (UIN) and an Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit (UAOP) from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
You can ask any questions you might have before travelling to India by contacting their Ministry of Civil Aviation.
Drone Categories in India
Drones are grouped into different categories in India. The different categories are:
- Nano: Weighing below or equal to 250g (0.55 pounds)
- Micro: Weighing between 250 grams (0.55 grams) and 2kg (4.4 pounds)
- Small: Weighing from 2kg (4.4 pounds) to 25kg (55 pounds)
- Medium: Weighing from 25kg (55 pounds) to 150kg (330 pounds)
- Large: Weighing more than 150kg (330 pounds)
All drones, except those in the Nano category, need to be registered before being flown.
Required Drone Equipment in India
Drones, excluding those of the Nano category, are all required to have certain features in order to be flown in India. These are:
- Return-to-Home functionality (RTH)
- An Anti-collision light
- An ID plate
- A flight controller equipped with flight data logging capabilities
- SIM and RF ID/ No Permission No Takeoff (NPNT)
No Permission, No Takeoff Policy
India’s ‘No Permission, No Takeoff’ policy dictates that every pilot requests permission to fly through a mobile app which will automatically process the request and either grant or reject it.
If a drone pilot tries to bypass the NPNT and fly without receiving permission from the Digital Sky Platform, the drone will simply not be able to take off.
To enforce the policy, all drone pilots have to register their drone through the Digital Sky Platform. For further details on the process you can check the DGCA website.
General Drone Laws for Flying a Drone in India
Here are some drone laws you should keep in mind while flying your drone in India:
- Every drone, apart from those in the Nano category, must be registered and issued a Unique Identification Number (UIN).
- You require a permit for commercial drone operations. The only exceptions are for the Nano category when flown below 50 feet, and the micro category when flown below 200 feet.
- Drones must be flown within the pilot’s direct line of sight at all times.
- Drones cannot be flown higher than 400 feet above ground.
- You cannot fly your drone in areas designated as “No Fly Zones” and these include around airports, international borders, military installations, Vijay Chowk in Delhi, and state secretariat complexes in state capitals.
- Permission to fly in controlled airspace can be obtained if you provide a flight plan and obtain a unique Air Defense Clearance (ADC) and a Flight Information Center (FIC) number.
These drone laws are bound to change as regulations evolve along with drone technology.
You should not take this article as legal advice, it is strictly for educational purposes only. We are not lawyers or law enforcers. To learn more about India’s drone laws, check this document from the DGCA website.