Vacationing abroad in stunning locations like Spain is an incredibly memorable experience.
Yet, since you want to get the most incredible photos while you’re in Spain, you might be wondering: Can I fly a drone in Spain?
According to AESA, it is legal to fly a drone in Spain, but you must follow all applicable rules and regulations as well as any category-specific drone flying restrictions. Depending on your drone and the type of flight you take, you might need to obtain permission and approval in order to fly.
Even if the quick answer above covers the essentials, there is still much more to learn about drone flying in Spain. Let’s get to all the details you need to know.
To help, we’ve identified and reviewed the best drone courses for beginners and professionals.
What do you need to know about flying a drone in Spain?
You can fly a drone in Spain, but you must beware of the regional regulations issued by regional authorities.
Before traveling to a specific area of Spain, it is crucial to research the regional drone laws of the territory or city you travel to.
Commercial drone pilots will have slightly different rules and additional requirements than those flying for recreational purposes only.
- A drone pilot must be registered as a UAS operator to fly a drone in Spain. Any legal person who uses or intends to use a drone to fly over Spanish territory is referred to as a UAS Operator.
Even drone pilots using drones weighing less than 250 grams, like the DJI Mini 3 Pro, are required to register as UAS operators because these drones feature a camera, whether or not they are being used for commercial or recreational purposes.
The only category that will not require you to be registered as a UAS operator if you want to fly a drone is if the drone is under 250 grams and is a toy (without a camera).
This regulation covers both commercial and recreational drone usage.
- You are not required to have any drone insurance if you fly for recreational purposes, but you do need it if you are flying for commercial reasons.
It is highly recommended, though, to have drone insurance to fly, even for recreational purposes. You can be held liable if anything happens when you fly your drone.
- You need to keep a minimum distance of 5 miles or 8 kilometers from airports.
This is a geofencing restriction in Spain, and most countries worldwide, where drone flights are strictly forbidden in the vicinity of airports or within the above-specified range without express permission.
- Ensure that you fly your drone below 400 feet or 120 meters. Flying beyond these height restrictions will be against the law, and you could be prosecuted for flying your drone into the national airspace.
- When flying your drone, make sure the UAS operator number and contact information are clearly attached.
As you will be the person responsible for flying your drone in Spain, you must ensure that your drone will have embedded identifiable information such as the UAS operator number, your contact details, full name, etc.
This information has to be secured on a fireproof identification plate and attached to the drone.
- The drone must always stay within visual range and be in line of sight.
- Protect other people’s privacy.
- Always ensure that the area you want to fly your drone is not restricted (more will follow).
- Even if you respect the drone laws and regulations in Spain, please ensure that you fly with common sense and don’t endanger other people or fly dangerously.
- Do not fly your drone over large crowds or people, at night in areas with little to no visibility and bad weather conditions.
- Keep your drone at a minimum distance of 150 from any buildings.
- Although in a transitional period, drones heavier than 250g may require a remote pilot training A1/A3 theoretical knowledge examination.
Where can you fly a drone in Spain?
There are many places where you can fly a drone in Spain, but many where you cannot. Spain is a large country, and each territory is responsible for its own laws and fly or no-fly zones.
Although you may be restricted from flying in places close to airports, military bases, national parks, and so on without approval, there are many fantastic places where you can freely fly your drone.
And having a sub-250 grams drone will allow you to fly even more freely and follow less restrictive regulations.
But the best tool to find out precisely and accurately where you can fly a drone in Spain and where you are restricted is the ENAIRE Drones App (link).
Do you need to register your drone before flying to Spain?
No. But as mentioned before, you will need to register yourself as a UAS operator in Spain to be able to fly your drone, even if it’s under 250 grams.
Please ensure that you use the AESA Official Website for all functions. This website is fully available in English as well.
But how do you register your drone in Spain?
- Open the above link (AESA) and head over to ‘drones’ and then to Drone Operator Registration/UAS.
- Scroll down to the “Registration as UAS operator in AESA is free of charge” part and click on “link to the procedure”, to start your drone registration in Spain.
Beware, once you start the process (Tramite Online), the process is both in Spanish and English.
- As a tip, install the Google Translate chrome addon to translate from Spanish to English if you don’t know the language or use any online tool to translate and be able to go through the process smoothly.
The information provided is a mixture between English and Spanish. You will also require to have a .pdf of your passport and complete personal data on the portal registration.
- You will have to choose either to register with or without a digital certificate. Applying for a digital certificate is another entire process, and you have to wait longer.
We will recommend applying without a digital certificate if you arrive from the US.
- Create account > without a digital certificate (point 1.b,). Ensure you fill the application fields entirely and as accurately as possible.
You should tick the “Persona Fisica/Natural Person” if you are applying for yourself and fill in the rest of the application for the UAS drone operator in AESA.
- Once the account is created and approved, you can log in following the same portal as used when you registered the application (head over down to either 2.a or 2.b)
- Note: User registration “APPROBADA” does not imply registration as a UAS operator. It is necessary to access the UAS application and register as a UAS operator within 30 days of user registration.
- Furthermore, it is crucial to know that although in the transitional period, drones above 250 grams may require a theoretical knowledge examination of subcategories A1/A3.
For drones under 250 grams at take-off, such as the DJI Mini 3 Pro, it will not require proof of completion.
- Applying for UAS operator and proof of completion of theoretical knowledge examination are two separate application processes, and it is better to apply long-time before departure as it may take time to process the applications.
Applying while already in Spain may be too late.
» MORE: Can You Fly a Drone in Ibiza?
Getting through customs
Getting a drone through customs in Spain is a different story. It all depends on where you bring the drone from.
For example, if you travel from the United States, it will be more restrictive to carry a drone to Europe, particularly to Spain, than from another European Country.
You must also consider the radio frequency and power of your drone and the possibility that it may be illegal to fly certain drones in Europe that, for example, are only intended for use in the US.
Knowing information about your drone is crucial in case you are questioned at the border, either before boarding or during an inspection.
Please keep in mind that the battery must be removed from the drone and stored adequately inside a fireproof bag because there have been instances in the past where drone batteries failed and caused fires.
You need to make sure that you keep a record of the rules in your country regarding traveling with drones by air.
Each nation, state, and territory may have its own laws, so it is essential to prioritize safety and prudence when transporting a drone to Spain.
Because of this, it is strongly advised that you obtain valid drone insurance in Spain before you depart.
It’s essential to keep in mind that even though drone insurance might not be necessary to fly recreationally in Spain, it may still be required to travel to and from another country.
Tips to getting through customs with a drone
- The drone batteries must always be removed from the drone and stored safely in the carry-on bag only. This is because, in the passenger cabin, the atmospheric pressure and temperature are stable.
- Boarding with a drone on the plane to travel to Spain should not be an issue, as long as you take a few safety measures.
It is never about boarding with a drone, which is a simple piece of electronic equipment but always about transporting the drone batteries and ensuring safety measures have been taken prior to the flight.
- Always check with your airline prior to traveling for their policies regarding drone battery transportation.
Each airline may have its own policies and regulations regarding Lithium battery transportation, including drone batteries.
- Please beware that there could be a limit on how many drone batteries you can board from the US. If the drone battery is between 100w to 160w, you can carry only two.
Under 100w per battery, there is no imposed limit by FAA. Most drone batteries are far below 100w. Always check your country’s aviation and airline restrictions before departure.
- It would be wise if you registered your drone prior to boarding your plane.
This is to ensure there are no issues and too many questions asked by the border, which may ask to assure you are aware of the risks and up to date with Spain’s drone laws and regulations.
- You can always request information from your airline prior to your travel to Spain regarding this matter.
- And just remember, your FAA agent may have the final word and decision as to wherever you can board the plane with your drone or not and travel to Spain with it.
If you want to get in touch with AESA, you can by contacting them at firstname.lastname@example.org