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Can You Bring a Drone to Sri Lanka?

Sri Lanka is a thrilling destination, packed with amazing sightseeing locations and a past dating all the way back to prehistory. Visually, it’s an ideal drone spot, but what do the rules say? Can you use your drone in Sri Lanka?

Following certain restrictions based on the size of your drone, you should be able to fly your drone in Sri Lanka. You will be required to obtain the proper permits to legally fly.

There will be several things to consider when you’re applying for permission, so it’s best to review all the information in advance.

Can I bring a drone to Sri Lanka?

With food, festivals, and fun, Sri Lanka is packed with things to do and see. There are sports, performing arts, and loads of historically significant locations that are just begging to be photographed.

That’s why it’s necessary to get all the information you need upfront so you can legally fly your drone on your trip to Sri Lanka. There are a few steps you’ll need to follow, and they may differ depending on the type of drone you intend to use.

Sri Lanka has a long list of restrictions in place to protect the safety of its citizens and its landscape, and you will be expected to adhere to all of the rules when you are flying your drone.

If you follow these regulations to the letter, you will be sure to have a safe and fun adventure with your drone in Sri Lanka.

What steps do I need to take to fly a drone in Sri Lanka?

The first thing you need to do is determine which category of drone you’re planning to use. Then you can find out under what circumstances that category can be approved for use in Sri Lanka.

Category A

This category includes any drone that is 55 pounds or heavier.

Drones in this category must register with the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka (CAASL) if the drones have any data-collection sensors. This includes cameras.

You will be required to pass a Competency Check through either the CAASL or a third party that is approved by Sri Lanka.

Once you have acquired this temporary registration for non-citizens, you will be required to renew it every two years.

Note: If you are under 18 years of age, you will need additional authorization from the Director General of CAASL before you can obtain your registration.

Your drone will be required to have an identification stamp from the Director General of CAASL. The stamp will include a registration number, as well as your photo ID and emergency contact information. This is to protect both you and others in case of drone loss or damage.

You will have to insure your drone in this category.

Category B

This category includes any drone that is between 2.2 pounds and 55 pounds of weight.

Drones in this category are held to the same registration requirements as stated above in Category A.

Category C

This category includes any drone that is between 0.44 pounds and 2.2 pounds of weight.

Drone operators in this category must register any drones that do not have data-collection sensors (like cameras). Register them with a certified vendor.

Drones in this category that do have data-collection sensors are held to the same rules stated above in Category A.

Category D

This category includes any drone that is 0.44 pounds or lighter.

As long as your drone does not have any data-collection sensors (like cameras), you will not need to register it. In other words, you can fly a Category D drone without registration, but you will not be able to use it for photography or videography.

What are the next steps?

After you understand your category, it’s time to get the necessary permits.

Several weeks before your flight, apply for clearance from the Ministry of Defense. You will want to provide all relevant information about the intended drone flight, including specs about your drone.

Once you have clearance from the Ministry of Defense, your next step is to contact the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka. From there, you can apply for another clearance.

The next step is to get an Import Control License from Sri Lanka Customs. This will allow you to safely bring your drone into the country.

What else do I need to know?

There are a few more guidelines you must be aware of when you take your drone to Sri Lanka. Here is a list of the most important notes:

  • Register your drone in advance by emailing the necessary form.
  • You must get local police authorization to fly any drone that has data-capturing sensors on it. This is a rule that stands, regardless of the category.
  • There is a way around the police authorization: If you have written approval from the local airport or have your drone flight supervised by a CAASL representative, you do not need to notify the local police.
  • There may be areas with signs indicating they are “No Drone Zones.” It is important to pay attention to these notifications so you can avoid flying in areas that are prohibited. As a general rule, when traveling, expect to be restricted from flying in or near airports, military bases, and even some historical sites.
  • Your drone may not exceed 100 miles per hour, and it must always remain within the operator’s line of sight. Set your drone parameters in advance, if this option is available, to warn you before you accidentally breach these limits.
  • You aren’t allowed to operate your drone from any moving vehicle. This includes boats, cars, and others.
  • If there is poor visibility due to the weather or the time of day, you may not fly your drone. This also means that you may not conduct a flight after sunset or before sunrise.
  • Before you leave for Sri Lanka, make sure you double-check your airline’s rules regarding the transport of your drone. Because airlines often update their regulations, it’s best to always be aware of the latest rules.
  • Of course, it is a priority for all drone operators to respect the safety and privacy of those around them.