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Can You Fly a Drone in Tulum?

Tulum is a Mexican town on the coast of the Caribbean that’s an exceptionally popular tourist destination. It contains Mayan ruins and exquisite beaches.

There’s so much to capture here with a drone, and you’re positive you could get some awesome footage.

Can you use a drone in Tulum?

According to the Federal Civil Aviation Agency, drones are permitted throughout Mexico, including in Tulum, but only for citizens. You might also need permission to record and take photographs in parts of greater Mexico.

Today’s article will tell you everything you need to know about flying a drone in Tulum, including what’s off-limits.

Make sure you keep reading, as you won’t want to miss it!

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Can you fly a drone in Tulum?

The Agencia Federal de Avacion Civil, better known as the Federal Civil Aviation Agency, establishes the rules for drone flights in Mexico.

According to AFAC, drones can fly throughout Mexico, including in Tulum.

» MORE: Can You Bring a Drone to Mexico?

We have one important caveat to that: you must be a Mexican citizen to use your drone.

This is majorly disadvantageous if you’re only taking a trip to Mexico . You’d have to apply for citizenship, which would take so much time (and possibly money) that it’s not worth it for your short-term stay.

Even if you wanted to obtain citizenship in Mexico to use your drone (you had been thinking of relocating anyway), it’s still not that easy.

We’ll talk more about this later, but Mexican drone law requires all pilots to have a license.

One of the eligibility requirements for the license is to be a Mexican citizen by birth.

So you could obtain citizenship to use a drone in Mexico, but you wouldn’t be able to get the license you need to fly. It’s a tough spot to be in!

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Taking your drone to Tulum

Before you can launch a drone, you need to get it to Mexico. Unfortunately, Mexican law prohibits the entry of drones into the country. It appears you can buy a drone in Mexico, but you can’t pack up your current drone and take it with you.

By the way, there’s no getting around this. You have to go through the TSA before flying into Mexico.

The agents know where in the world you can bring your drone and where you can’t, so there’s no way they’ll approve it.

Let’s say you somehow miraculously managed to sneak your drone on the plane.

Once you land in Mexico, you still need to go through their airline agents and customs. Your drone would get confiscated because it’s not supposed to be with you.

Moreso, you will receive a fine.

That’s no way to start a vacation or a business trip.

Traveling into a new part of the world with different cultures and another language than yours is already difficult enough. Don’t further complicate matters by trying to bring your drone with you illegally.

Okay, so what if you buy a drone in Mexico? Can you take that drone with you if you leave the country?

More than likely, you can’t, as customs won’t allow the drone on a plane.

Therefore, if you must purchase a drone, make sure it’s not a fancy DJI or another expensive model. Go with a cheap drone so you can leave it behind with only a little remorse.

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Mexican drone laws to know before you go

Should you find yourself in a position to fly a drone in Tulum, AFAC has many drone laws you must know. Let’s review them now.

You need a drone license

Since late 2018, the Directorate General of Civil Aeronautics has required pilots to obtain a license before operating a drone in Mexico.

The DGCA mandates that pilots obtaining a license be Mexican by birth. You must be 18 or older, in good physical standing, and have a high school diploma and a military release card.

You may need authorization to record and photograph

Tulum and greater Mexico have so many wondrous sights, yet you could need permission first depending on which you want to see.

The National Institute of Anthropology and History demands that any drone pilot commercially recording and photographing around INAH museums and monuments obtain authorization.

You must complete Form INAH-01-001 and include a dummy sketch, storyboard, or script with your application.

Further, you need to provide a project synopsis and documentation to the National Coordination of Legal Affairs.

The fees for recording and photographing are around $10,905 Mexican pesos per day, which is $581 USD.

Follow resort and hotel rules

Mexico has many resort towns, with Tulum being one of them. If you stay at a hotel or resort, read the drone policy.

Most lodging options across Mexico have instituted their own drone rules to protect the peace of their customers.

Do not use a drone to drop items

You can legally carry items on your drone in Mexico. However, when flying around Tulum or elsewhere in the country, you cannot drop items that could harm property and people.

Keep items like smartphones, external cameras, or additional accessories securely affixed to your UAV.

Know your max operating speed

You drone has a max operating speed according to how much it weighs. You must know this speed and monitor your drone settings to ensure you don’t surpass the allowable speed.

Do not fly within five miles of aerodromes

Tulum has a handful of aerodromes or airports, including the Tulum Airbase. Pilots cannot fly within five nautical miles or 9.2 kilometers of any airport throughout Mexico.

Use a drone map to determine your distance from an airport. It could save you a pricy fine!

No flying over animals or people

To protect the animals that call Tulum home, you’re prohibited from flying your drone over them.

Likewise, you cannot operate your drone over people. Some countries have exceptions to this law, such as if your drone is a certain weight, but that doesn’t appear to be the case in Mexico.

Plan to use your drone at off-times that attract fewer crowds or in less populated areas.

Don’t fly higher than 400 feet

According to AFAC, drones in Mexico must stay approximately 400 feet from the ground at all times.

Do not fly your drone more than 1,500 feet away

Mexican drone law permits you to fly your drone within 1,500 feet of where you stand. It’s considered in your visual line of sight at that distance.

Only use your drone during daylight hours

You cannot explore the beauty of Tulum after dark, nor any other part of Mexico. The drone laws in this country outlaw drone operations after sundown and before sunrise.

Register your drone

If your drone exceeds 0.55 pounds or 250 grams, you must register it in Mexico. You can go through the DGCA for the registration process.

Like you need Mexican citizenship to obtain a drone license in Mexico, that also applies to registering a drone. You’ll have to provide an ID, so there’s no way to get around the citizenship issue.

What’s the punishment for violating drone laws in Tulum?

We already talked about how you can receive a fine if you try to bring your drone through customs into Mexico, but that’s not the only trouble you can face.

You could receive a fine if you use your drone illegally in this country. Moreso, you could have your drone confiscated or even receive jailtime depending on the crime and how a judge prosecutes you.

You absolutely cannot fly a drone in Tulum unless you’re a Mexican-born citizen.

There are no loopholes to exploit, as Mexico has enforced this rule to keep its citizens safe while still allowing them to enjoy the fun of flying a drone.

Don’t try to bring you drone to Tulum if you’re from another country.

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Tulum is a town in Mexico beloved for its stunning beaches. Unfortunately, unless you’re a Mexican citizen, you can’t get the registration and license needed to fly a drone here.

That leaves non-citizens out in the cold.

You also can’t fly a drone into Mexico. If you were permitted to fly here, you’d have to purchase a drone in Mexico. It’s unclear if you can take the drone home with you.

Mexico has a lot of drone rules under AFAC. You must stay away from people, animals, and aerodromes. You also cannot fly near protected buildings.

A drone map will come in handy for determining restricted airspace!