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Can You Bring a Drone to the Maldives?  

The Republic of Maldives is a chain of islands that draws beach-loving tourists every year. Photographers also can’t get enough of its colorful natural vistas and unique sights.

That’s why this is the main question on everyone’s mind: Can you take your drone to the Maldives?

Permission to fly a drone is granted on a case-by-case basis in the Maldives. Because this is not an uncommon request, there is a series of steps you must follow to seek approval.

Once you’ve arrived in the Maldives, you’re certain to have many places you’d like to capture on drone footage, so it’s best to plan ahead.

Can I bring a drone to the Maldives?

Just southwest of Sri Lanka, the Maldives is an archipelago that boasts some of the most stunning views in the world. It’s most famous for its resorts and beaches, but several fascinating heritage sites here are well worth exploring.

Because you’ll want to record as much of the beauty as possible, a drone will be your best friend – provided you can get approval to use it.

There are several steps you’ll need to complete before you can legally fly your drone in the Maldives.

Luckily, these steps aren’t difficult to complete. The only thing you’ll need to worry about is time. It’s important to plan for the necessary approval in advance.

Keeping track of the rules and regulations for drone usage when you’re traveling will help keep you and others safe, and it will ensure you have a great time on your trip.

What steps do I need to take to fly a drone in the Maldives?

The government in the Republic of Maldives requires each request to fly a drone to be considered on a case-by-case basis. This allows them to have better control over the circumstances surrounding each drone flight.

There are two different categories of drone operators that have slightly different steps. Before you begin the process, you’ll need to determine which category you fall into.

Hobbyist

If you’re flying your drone for fun only, then you fall into this category.

For hobbyist drone flights, here are the steps you will need to take before you can get approval:

  • First, visit your hotel or the island’s local council to request drone flight permission.
  • At the same time, you should visit the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) website to obtain an application that you can fill out and submit via email to admin@defence.gov.mv. This is where you can find the application.
  • After you have written permission from both the hotel or island council and the MNDF, you will need to apply for final approval from the Maldives Civil Aviation Authority (MCAA). Include copies of your approved permission forms when you submit this application to ans@caa.gov.mv. This is where you can find the application.

That’s it! Because this is approved on a case-by-case basis, it’s impossible to know exactly how long the approval might take. For that reason, it’s best to apply well in advance, if possible.

Commercial

If you’re flying your drone for a work-related purpose or to sell your images, then you fall into this category.

For commercial drone flights, here are the steps you will need to take before you can get approval:

  • First, contact the Maldives National Centre for the Arts to obtain an application form. You will submit this form to info@nca.gov.mv. This is where you can find the application.
  • At the same time, you should visit the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) website to obtain an application that you can fill out and submit via email to admin@defence.gov.mv. This is where you can find the application.
  • After you have written permission from both the National Centre for the Arts and the MNDF, you will need to apply for final approval from the Maldives Civil Aviation Authority (MCAA). Include copies of your approved permission forms when you submit this application to ans@caa.gov.mv. This is where you can find the application.

As always, it is best to apply well in advance, if possible.

What can I expect if I am approved?

Because each area of the Maldives may have different restrictions, it’s important to request any guidelines to be stated upfront. With that said, there are a few things you can count on:

  • Your drone must not go as high as 400 feet. You will want to set proper warnings on your drone, if they are available, to warn you when you are reaching this limit.
  • Many countries have rules regarding flying drones in or around heritage areas, near large crowds, or in other protected locations. You may want to request a map of these locations for the island you’re visiting.
  • Often, countries will restrict flying during times of poor visibility, like at night or during bad weather. This is usually to protect you and others, as well as to protect your drone.
  • Be aware that you might not be allowed to attach objects to your drone, if they could be hazardous.
  • As always, the most important rule of drone flying is to honor the privacy and safety of others.

What else should I do to prepare?

It’s important to check with your airline before your flight to make sure your drone is approved for cargo. This is because airlines often update and change their safety regulations, and you don’t want to have an unwelcome surprise at the last minute.

» MORE: Airline Drone Policy (Read This Before You Travel)

If you find that your airline suddenly restricts the carriage of your drone or its battery, you may want to consider shipping options. Always have a backup plan.

Remember that the Maldives is a series of small islands, which means there are amazing views – but there are also many areas that may be restricted due to travel to and from the islands.

Make sure you have a good sense of where you are going to be flying your drone before you submit your request.

Approving individual requests on a case-by-case basis means the wait times may be very long, especially during high-traffic tourist seasons. Be aware of this and try to put in your requests up to a month in advance, if you are able.