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Can You Bring a Drone to Israel (& Fly It Once You Get There)?

The State of Israel is so tiny that finding it on the globe is like finding a needle in a haystack. The tiny area, the holy places, the borders with enemy countries all around, and above all, the security sensitivity, fire areas, and army camps make it difficult to bring in a drone and fly it, especially for a tourist.

To fly a drone with peace of mind, you must know some basic rules and follow several steps that will be presented below. Most importantly, we’ll discuss how to obtain a special permit to fly a drone.

The Ministry of Communications, Tax Authority, and the Civil Aviation Authority of Israel (CAAI) require the appropriate official document for entering with and flying a drone. 

When you enter the country with a drone, you must have a permit in hand, ready to be presented at the airport. To obtain this document, register through the Israeli Drone Organization ICD.

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Registering through ICD 

To obtain the official document, register through ICD-Israeli Drone Organization or another license holder such as Aeroclub.

You can find them here:

Note: ICD is preferable since it mainly deals with drones.

After registration, you will receive the permit by email.  Upon completing the registration, you will be automatically added to the WhatsApp group.

Because the laws are not clear and sometimes apparently have double meanings, as well as the lack of updated official websites, if you have any questions or unclear issues regarding registration or flying the drone, you are welcome to contact ICD through email or with the following phone numbers:

Registration Process

When you enter the ICD link, you will be able to see the ICD  organization profile, as well as language selection for registration.

First, choose a language. Then you will see a button for registration.

The registration costs about $100. It can take several days to get the permit by email.

Required registration fields are:

  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Email
  • Passport number
  • Phone Number
  • Date of entry to Israel
  • Departure date Israel
  • Drone Model
  • Serial Number Drone
  • Address

Basic (international) drone laws 

  • Maintain a height of no more than 50 meters from the ground
  • It is mandatory to maintain constant eye contact with the drone
  • Airports – keep a distance of 2 km from the field
  • Stadiums – it is forbidden to fly over or near people
  • It is forbidden to fly inside a residential neighborhood near public buildings or gatherings of people. Stay at least 250 meters away.
  • It is forbidden to fly near aviation sports sites (landing, hover parachute, air glider, parachutes, and gliders with an auxiliary engine, etc.)
  • Do not fly near prisons or power plants such as refineries and power stations
  • It is forbidden to fly near/into military bases, fire areas, police stations
  • It is forbidden to fly near/into border areas
  • It is forbidden to fly near/into  security facilities or security area

For restricted drone flying areas, look at the maps below, and if you are in doubt, call ICD.

Additional restrictions for tourists flying drones in Israel

  • Tourists can fly drones only for recreational purposes. For business purposes, you must contact the organization ICD.
  • Every three months, you must renew the flight permit by contacting the ICD.
  • A small drone is the same as a big drone as long as it has a camera.
  • It is very worthwhile to note that if you fly a drone right near the border, (especially if you are a tourist) the IDF can intercept it, and then interrogate you about the activity near the border.

The investigation is more in-depth if you are a tourist.

Just to give you an example of the security sensitivity in Israel (although it is a plane and not a drone), a flight of Libyan Airlines took off from Tripoli to Cairo. Due to a navigation error, the plane entered Israel’s sensitive airspace and was shot down by Israeli Air Force planes. 

Drone controller transmission frequency

Today the world of drones communicates using two forms of transmission, 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz frequency. Until recently, it was forbidden in Israel to fly a drone with a frequency of 5.8Ghz.

More than that, if you arrived with a drone with only this frequency, there was a big chance that your drone would be confiscated.

And if you flew a drone with such a frequency and were caught (this rule was for citizens, too), you would receive a significant fine. This frequency was reserved for the military. 

Now, Israel is gradually allowing the flying of drones at the 5.8Ghz frequency with a specific permit.

That’s why before you enter the country with a drone of 5.8Ghz frequency or a drone with two frequencies, 2.4Ghz and 5.8Ghz, you need to consult with the ICD organization first.

The largest drone company in the world, DJI, managed to solve the problem of the use of 5.8Ghz frequency around the world with the help of GPS data.

The system locates the location of the drone in the world and adjusts it automatically to work on a legal frequency in that location. 

Small drones

The rules as given above apply to any drone, whether a lightweight or a toy drone. As long as it has a camera, all the laws apply to it because of the security sensitivity in Israel.

If it is a drone without a camera and 2.4GHz frequency, then the same normal laws apply to this drone as for any drone, and there is no need for registration or a special declaration.

For 5.8GHz, consult the ICD organization.

No Fly Zones – Colors and area categories 

Access the following link to get the map of the NFZ regions with the option to move and zoom in/out. Once a week, the map will be updated by the organization ICD.

Colors on the map

All marked areas are prohibited from flying without any distinction of color, sex, race, or religion.  The areas are marked with different colors. Each color has a meaning. Pay special attention to areas with security sensitivity.

DJI also has a map (link), which will be presented below.

Areas are divided into categories by color:

  • Green: Nature and Parks Authority
  • Red: Border flight prohibition & security & facilities
  • Purple: The Nature and Parks Authority, according to the PMA (Publication of intrastate aviation information)   
  • Blue: Airport & airstrips
  • Yellow-orange: Closure according to DJI
  • Orange: Closure according to the PMA (Publication of intrastate aviation information) LLP/ U/ R/D/

To the left of the map, you can see the categories of no-fly zones.

Of course, you can zoom out/in, or move for clarity, and focus on a specific area.

Here are the area categories given again:

  • No fly zone for drone
  • Information from the nature and parks authority – flight restrictions
  • Flying the aircraft is prohibited – by any existing law of the nature and parks authority
  • Nature and parks authority flight prohibition 1
  • Nature and parks authority flight prohibition 2
  • Nature and parks authority flight prohibition 3
  • Fire area

If you press any color in the map of the link above, you get an NFZ explanation. 

DJI Map

DJI has its own map with the markings NFZ and colors. DJI also locks certain areas so you can’t fly the drone there with a technology called geofencing.

» MORE: Do DJI Drones Have Geofencing?

On the company’s website, you can view the map and the areas where they block the option of flying a drone. You can unlock this restriction by contacting ICD.  Also, it automatically locks drones using the 5.8GHz frequency.

Here example of part of the map, NFZ  in Israel.

Protection of Birds

Israel is considered a major migration axis for about 500 million birds that pass through it twice a year.

Prohibition of operating a drone or multi-bladed drone in nature reserves and national parks is there to prevent damage to endangered birds and protected natural values.

There are months when this limit does not exist, so for clarification, you should ask in the WhatsApp group you were attached to or consult with the ICD organization mentioned above.

Conclusion

To sum it up, Israel has wild and remarkable landscapes. You can have a lot of fun using a drone when you register beforehand, show a permit when you enter the country, and make sure you are flying on a 2.4GHz frequency (for 5.8 GHz consult ICD) and not near borders.

If you have any questions or problems, simply contact the ICD organization by mail or phone mentioned above or in the WhatsApp group. They will be very happy to help you. 

So have a nice flight to get here and a great flight with your quadcopter.

References:
DJI map (link)