Quick Look at the New Drone Law in Thailand

Quick Look at the New Drone Law in Thailand

Drone in Thailand

One of the most common questions I have received on my blog this year is about the use of drones in Thailand. This followed the dramatic headlines earlier this year that drones would be outlawed. I wrote a blog about it at the time saying that the writer of the newspaper article had jumped the gun. Yes, I admitted, the time would come when there would be restrictions on flying. But, as of that time, you were still free to fly drones in Thailand. That is, if you were careful where you flew and to make sure you had permission when flying from private property. Now finally comes the publication of the the new and updated drone law in the Royal Gazette.

Flying the drone in Mae Hon Song

There is no official translation in English yet, so this is just a quick, first look at the law. I will blog in more details later once things become clearer. Please don’t copy and paste this “quick look” onto forums or other blogs as It is most likely I will update and/or clarify some of the points below over the coming week. There are a few things I need to check. As always, if you have anything to add or you think I have made a mistake in the translation, then please post in the comments below.

There are two types of drones or unmanned aerial vehicles:

CATEGORY 1: Used for hobby or other recreational use such as entertainment or sport.
CATEGORY 2: Used for TV news, movie making etc

If you have a drone in Category 1 that weighs less than two kilos and you are 18 years or older, than you don’t need permission to fly from the Ministry of Transport. But, you do need to obey the following rules:

1. Before flight
(a) Check that the drone and remote control is in a good condition to fly
(b) You have permission from the owner of the land where you wish to fly
(c) You have checked the environment and airspace of the location you are flying
(d) You have an emergency plan in case of an accident

2. During the flight
(a) It is forbidden to fly in a way that may cause harm to the life, property and peace of others.
(b) It is forbidden to fly in restricted zones as announced in “Aeronautical Information Publication – Thailand” and also at government buildings and hospitals unless permission is given.
(c) The take-off and landing must not be obstructed by anything
(d) You must keep the drone in line-of-sight at all times and not rely on the monitor or other devices
(e) You can only fly between sunrise and sunset when the drone can clearly be seen
(f) It is forbidden to fly in or near clouds
(g) It is forbidden to fly within nine kilometres of an airport or in the flight path unless you have permission from aircraft control.
(h) It is forbidden to fly higher than ninety metres above the ground.
(i) It is forbidden to fly over cities, villages, communities or areas where people are gathered.
(j) Do not fly near other aircraft that have pilots
(k) Do not violate the privacy rights of others
(l) Do not cause a nuisance to others
(m) Do not mount anything danergous or lasers on the drone
(n) It is forbidden to fly closer than 30 meters to people, vehicles or buildings

If your drone is in Category 1 but weighs more than two kilos but less than 25 kilos, you must be at least twenty years of age, not a threat to national security and never been imprisoned. You must also have a license to fly from the Director General of the Department of Civil Aviation. You have to follow the rules as outlined above but in addition you must have more knowledge about drone maintence and safety and aircraft rules. You must have emergency equipment on hand such as fire extinguisher. You also must have third party insurance of not less than one million Baht. Finally, in the list above, clause (n) the distance between drone and people, buildings, cars etc cannot be less than 50 metres. If you have an accident, you must inform authorities immediately.

Drones in Category 2 have to be licensed and insured and obey the rules the same as drones in Category 1 that are heavier than two kilos.

Flying my drone in Thailand

The source for this is the Royal Gazette.  It was published on 27 August 2015 and it usually then takes 30 days before it becomes law. If you have a DJI Phantom like me, and only use it for recreational use, then you don’t need a license. If you have anything bigger, like a DJI Inspire, then you need a license and insurance. If you use for commercial reasons, then again, you need a license and insurance. If you have any comments or better translations of the law, then please post in the comments. I will then update the blog.

141 thoughts on “Quick Look at the New Drone Law in Thailand

  1. Hi Guys, I am a commercial drone operator here in the UK (I am licensed and fully insured – including other countries). I am planning a trip to Thailand in order to undertake commercial drone work – make promotional videos for hotels.

    Does my license and insurance mean anything over there? I will not be flying in congested areas and I will fly safely trying not to draw any attention to myself.

    The question is – Am I allowed to just rock up to BKK airport with my Inspire Pro and undertake commercial work or will I officially need to apply for a Thai license etc?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. No, You will first need a work permit, in order to do that you need a Non B visa (business visa), to get these you need to open a Thai company, show 2 million baht of capital and employ 4 Thai staff. Then you can apply for your drone license. Immigration law is very strict about working without a work permit and there are many of who already do this business at great expense only to have people come her on ‘holiday’ working for low rates threatening our livelihoods.

  2. I have a Phantom3, Do I need a permission to fly in Thailand? Bangkok? How can I get this? I am only e travel blogger, just fly for fun. I already flight in Chiang Mai, but I really want a oficial permission to not have any problem.

      1. if i’m bringing a dji mavic pro, arriving through survanabhumi, do i have to declare it at customs throught the red lane.

        1. Lucky bugger if you have one already, but if I were you I would not declare anything to customs. You’re simply inviting them to look for some sort of payment.

          If it’s all new in its box then you might get caught for some duty, but if you simply have it in carry case I really doubt they’d look for anything. I’ve flown into and out of BKK many times with my P3, had it x-rayed by customs, and never had any problems.

  3. I will be flying into BLK on October 26th with my inspire 1 and it would be in pretty big pelican type case. Do you think I will have a problem taking it in and out of the country and would I need any special permits or documents to do this?

    1. They are getting more and more accustomed to seeing drones at the airport, so you should be fine. But you might want to bear in mind that I1 size means that under Thai law you need both a licence and insurance to fly it here, even if only for hobby. Neither of those would be available to a tourist. In all likelihood you’ll never be asked, but Thailand is not a good place to be caught on the wrong side of the law. The risk is minimal, but it is there, so take care.

  4. So basically flying a p4 around Krabi beaches/islands will be fine is what I’m getting out of all the articles I’ve looked at?

  5. Hi Pilots,

    I am going on an Azie trip to visit Thailand and other surrounding nations like Vietnam, Mymar, Laos, Phillipiens and India. I am about to pre-order the Mavic Pro for an epic video report. But i heard rumors the duane at the airport can occupy the drone, and you won’t get it back (like in Turkey).

    Does anyone had experience traveling with drones trough Azie? And so yes, did you have any troubles at the airport?

    1. Hi Sjoerdonio,
      I travelled through Asia for almost two years. In general, it is quite easy to take your drone to these countries. The only exception is India, where it is prohibited to use a drone. The officials seize the copter sometimes at the airport (depending on the state, e.g. in Ahemdabad). Maybe you can try to get an import permission from the Ministry of Communication.

      If you like you can check out my new website: http://drone-traveller.com/drone-laws-asia/ I collect the drone regulations for 83 countries so far. More to come 😉
      Best regards,
      Francis

  6. Hi! Do you by chance have a Thai version of the law I could print out? When I shot in China, I carried a signed Chinese copy of the legal documentation in my case and showed it to cops when asking to fly, and I found that it gave a little bit more credibility.

  7. Hi. Good information you have here. I live on Koh Samui and have a long stay not work visa. I do not work and mostly fly over water and this is just for my interest in film and photo. I have an insurance from my country. I also have Thai driver licence. Now I fly the Phantom 3 Advanced, and are looking over my options for upgrading. I know that a Inspire2 is more then I need but at the same time I want to be as safe I can in these conditions, where weather can change in a couple of minutes, and then maybe the Inspire is a better option then to buy a Mavic. So I want to ask you about the “Director General of the Department of Civil Aviation” and where/ how I can get that licence, if I want to? I lucky in life so if I want to I can buy it, even when its dubble the price of a Mavic. I also are a geek when it comes to this type of stuff and love to have all those options….

  8. Hello,

    Last year (December 2015) I made a trip in Thailand and Myanmar (Birma) with my drone, a Parrot Bebop 2.

    In Thailand no problems at all with customs/authorities.

    When arriving in Yangon (international flight from BKK) my bag went trough a scanner. It was picked out, and I was taken to the customs office. After long discussion and even demonstrating the drone, i was NOT allowed to bring it into the country. I showed them drone clips of Myanmar on Youtube but even that did not help.

    My drone was confiscated. Luckaly my return fligth was also from Yangon, so I was allowed to collect it when leaving the country.

    Hoping this information is handy for other travellers.

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