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.

203 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.

      1. Hi Phil,

        I was wondering if you know whether it is possible to apply for a drone licence under other Non Immigrant Visas (RS or ED)? I am a scientist hoping to use a drone for an upcoming field trip. The work is not commercial in nature, but is not recreational either as if all goes well the data obtained would be used for a journal publication and possibly the footage would be used for press releases and public lectures. To add to the confusion last time I applied for a RS visa I was issued a ED visa instead, but either way I wouldn’t be travelling under a category B visa.

        Cheers,
        James.

      2. The instructions above are for a work permit. Non resident category B visas are much simpler to obtain. I would advise speaking to a visa specialist/agent in your home country as the info on the embassy’s website is over complex.

  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

    1. I am Thai 😁 It says “you cannot fly [the device] higher than 90 meters (300 feet) off the ground.” So 90 meters is the number! 🙂

  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.

  9. I have no further information on the Drone laws, however I’m staying on Koh Samui and ordered a Drone online and it’s stuck at the Bangkok customs, not allowing entry until I obtain a Drone Operating License that takes 30 days, and no link or instructions on how to do so. This may be a new thing.

    1. You need to get an import permit from the Civil Aviation Department. If it a drone already sold here then provide evidence ie advertising etc.. I presume it was DHL that was the shipping agent.. happened to me. I had to send the drone back to China.. ohh and they require lots of information and you get checked by Immigration and the DSI.

    2. Also ALL DRONES that have cameras are required to have insurance and a Drone pilots permit. Insurance from Drone Thai insurance and pilot permit from the Thailand Civil Aviation Department. Information in Thai can be seen on the hobbythai website.

  10. Good to have the updates on drone law in los,
    I have been flying a phantom 3 here around 1.5 years mostly in the burbs of bkk and never had a problem, Best MO is stay away from buildings and avoid masses of people or live stock, Inevitably you will be flying over various bodies of water and scattered houses so almost impossible to know who owns what,
    Try to take off from wasteland or public land, Arrive do all pre flight checks and fly with common sense trying to stay within the rules, Do it right and for the most part nobody will notice.

  11. Have taken my phantom in a hardcase through suv bkk many times and had no questions asked going in or out, I have 4 batteries and try to get them around 35% taking them by hand carry in the hardcase – backpack,
    Arrived and departed, hk, kl, few times like this without even having to open the case.

  12. hello I need to know if you can use a small drone in Thailand for private purposes, or otherwise special restrictions? thank you

      1. I’m going this summer to Krabi and have the little Breeze 4K drone just for making some pictures or movies of my holidays there at the beaches
        Would that be a problem ?
        And where can I download a copy of what is permitted and not one drone laws there?
        Thanks.

          1. Thanks for the info and i hope that my drone will not be confiscated ad the airport .
            I will use my drone at times when there are not many people’s around on the beach.
            Thank’s for your posting.

  13. I just want to thank you for posting this valuable information. I’m thinking about taking my drone to Thailand this summer. I have one favor to ask of you. Can you share some of your emergency plans with me?

  14. Hi! I have a Phantom 4, and I will travel to the Golden Triangle, and Pukhet for vacation soon. Would there be an issue of me flying the drone in either of those locations to take some vacation footage? What do they consider a park? Or better yet, is there a map that identifies no-fly zones? Thank you for any advice you can give.

    1. There’s no map. Some places are easy to fly, others they are strict. I was told to land my drone at the weekend. I’ve heard stories of people having their drone confiscated. You should be aware, unless you have a license and insurance, you cannot really complain to the police. Always get permission of landowner before you fly.

    1. Please don’t! If you try to fly above or near a royal palace you will probably set off an immediate ban on all drones nationwide. Please read the blog again. You cannot fly near buildings or crowds. That includes Chatuchak market. If your drone has a camera you need to have a license and insurance.

      1. If your drone has a camera you need to have a license and insurance.

        When did that come in? I thought that smaller drones <2KG could be flown without licence?

  15. I am looking to bring nano drones into Thailand as gifts for friends.. I have around 10 and they are coming from Australia. Do I need to declare this with customs or immigration?

  16. Hey Richard, do you know where in Bangkok I can repair my Phantom 2? It dropped and the cam fell off (just needs a new screw which is gone..nothing broken). But before the fall it was extremely unstable so it needs a tune-up. Hope you can help. Thanks

  17. Hi there,
    Thanks for sharing your experience and information. Did I get it right, that I could fly over the chao phraya (normally) without any further allowence needed. But if the drone has a camera I would need a license also if I would not the movies/pictures for business?
    thank you!

  18. Hi,

    I am visiting Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket in May 2017 as part of my honeymoon. I really want to take my DJI Mavic Pro but I am getting mixed messages from people. I use my drone for personal use i.e. taking pictures and videos. Do you think it’s safe to take my drone.

    I read an infographic on the https://www.caat.or.th website where is said all users have to have a licence? I tried contacting CAAT who sent me a form in Thai language which I did not understand at all.

    Thanks in advance for your help.

  19. Just a note to all you DJI drone enthusiasts. Once a model is discontinued (such as P2), DJI will not distribute any spare parts!! Not a screw, not a new battery, nothing! They obviously wants us to shelve our 2 to 3 year old drones and buy a brand new model. Not good. What to do?

  20. I carried a Mavic Pro as carry on with 3 batteries from Melbourne to Thailand without and problems. filmed in remote locations with not many people around, again no problems.. think it all comes down to how much attention you bring to yourself

  21. Hi, I want to bring my phantom 4 into my trip to Thailand, but the information I have been reading is all mixed. Do I really need a licens and insurance, or can I just fly following the rules of safety?
    Thanks.

        1. Because, despite the date embedded in the URL of the page you linked to, the announcement was made 2 July 2015.

          It has been superseded by this regulation, announced 20 February 2017: https://www.caat.or.th/en/archives/27220

          Obviously, one would assume clicking on the “Recent Laws” section of an official Thai Government website would take you to there most recent laws, but those assumptions can have dire consequences in Thailand.

          1. So all we have to go by is an infographic with no supporting information about the actual regulation? Surely there must be more than an infographic?

  22. i just get my Mavic Pro and i would like to test it out in BKK, but feeling sad after reading comments above where can’t fly in public park, does any one have any idea where else I can test it in bkk?

  23. Good afternoon, i am visiting krabi,s beaches in july with my Mavic, i just want to fly over the sea and cliffs. Could i be finned or have my drone confiscated? Thks

  24. We are now in 2017, i have no idea of how to get a licence for flying a drone in Thailand, i wrote to CAAT and explained to them of my intention to visit Thailand and to bring my drone which i would like to fly there, they send me two forms in Thai language to fill, i have filled the space where to put my name, address and passport number but other spaces need to be translated, i have asked Thailand Elite to help me for this but they just send a mail to me to inform that i have to fill the form at CAAT if i dont understand Thai Language but the mentionned that i should not bring the drone until the licence is approved. It means that i should leave my drone at home, go to Thailand and seek approval of the licence then return back home and bring the drone to fly according to their rules and regulations. I dont know whether drones are on sales freely on the market in Thailand because it seems to me that the licence also autorise the possession of a drone therefore illegal to have one. Who can explain to me which is which?

  25. Hello Richard. I am traveling the world leaving in 2 days and will be flying in internationally to Bangkok and out of Chiang mai. I do not intend to fly in Thailand but will have my mavic. Is there a risk it would be confiscated at the airport?

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