Ah, Italia. It’s one of the world’s most famed destinations and a top-tier place to visit for drone pilots eager to capture exquisite footage of the idyllic countryside.
You can fly a drone in Rome, most of Venice, and gorgeous Florence, or Firenze, as the locals call it.
You must also register your drone before planning these fascinating flights, so how do you do that?
Register a drone in Italy through the D-Flight portal. Recreational pilots operating drones below 250 grams don’t have to register. However, commercial pilots must always register their drones. Failing to register a drone can result in fines or imprisonment.
Given the steep consequences of foregoing registration, you want to ensure you do it correctly. You’ve come to the right place!
This guide will unpack the registration rules and other pertinent laws for your trip to Italy.
To help, we’ve identified and reviewed the best drone courses for beginners and professionals.
Can I legally fly a drone in Italy?
According to the Italian Civil Aviation Authority or ENAC, drones can operate in Italy. ENAC oversees air transport rules, security, and safety.
Pilots must obey ENAC laws and those established by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency or EASA.
Italy doesn’t require pilots to obtain a drone license, so the registration is that much more important.
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Under EASA rules, pilots will be placed into one of three categories based on risk level:
I’ll break down these categories later in this guide, so don’t miss it.
Can I bring a drone to Italy by plane?
You can transport your drone via plane if you don’t already live in Italy, but you should expect to declare it at customs.
Here are some tips on what to expect and how to navigate the process.
You might be allowed to bring your drone on a plane, but that doesn’t mean it’s always a straightforward process.
Expect to spend more time in security clearance lines than most passengers.
Allow yourself extra time so you can get through the check-ins without risking missing your flight.
An extra hour or two of leeway should suffice, but you can give yourself a larger window if you want to play it ultra-safe.
Buy a drone travel bag
The best way to travel with your drone is in a bag, case, or backpack designed for it.
Carrying your drone loosely in a suitcase is a recipe for disaster. The drone can shift and move around, leading to body damage and potential broken parts.
A drone travel bag will have a snug compartment for drone storage.
You could swing the bag around (not like I recommend you do this, but theoretically), and the drone would stay put. This reduces the chances of damage.
Bring your drone as checked luggage or a carry-on
However, since you can never be too careful, I advise you to bring your drone as a carry-on or a piece of checked luggage.
The airport staff does not have X-ray vision, so they don’t know it’s a $1,000+ DJI drone in your bag. They just know it’s a bag, so it gets handled less than gingerly.
That can make for one anxious flight!
You’d also be in for a headache if you arrived in Italy and discovered your drone was broken. You’d have to shell out unexpectedly for a new one, chewing into your travel budget.
Bringing your drone as checked luggage ensures it stays with you the entire flight, where you can keep it safe and sound.
Declare your drone at customs
You must declare your drone before getting on the flight.
Expedite the process by having all required drone paperwork ready, including proof of insurance, registration (a copy suffices), your passport, and other ID.
Review the airline’s battery transportation policy
Traveling with a drone might be okay, but bringing batteries along is a whole other matter.
Batteries can overheat and possibly explode, so airlines have stringent policies about whether you can take them on a plane.
Don’t get caught unawares. Review the airline’s website to ascertain the battery policy.
If you’re allowed to travel with batteries, take them out of your drone and store them in a separate compartment.
Can I register a drone in Italy as a non-resident?
You’re finally living your dream by traveling to Italy, but you worry about registering your drone when you get there. Are you allowed to register as a non-resident?
Yes, but whether you have to depends on which country you’re coming from.
If you’ve registered a drone in any other EU country, the registration is good in Italy.
However, you must register your drone if you’re traveling from a non-EU country, such as the United States or Canada.
Non-residents must register as Operators and then attach the Operator Registration number to the drone.
You will only receive one Operator Registration number even if you register several drones, so apply the number to all.
You must also have a Certificate of Competency for AI, A2, and A3 Open categorization via passing an exam, which you can do in any EASA state, not only Italy.
Select an English-speaking country to take the exam in English (unless you speak another native language, then choose that country).
As a non-resident, you must stay out of no-fly zones and fly no closer than 8 kilometers from heliports and airports.
» MORE: Can You Bring a Drone to Europe?
How to register a drone in Italy (Step by step)
ENAC requires pilots 14 and older to register drones exceeding 250 grams. You still have to register it if your drone has a camera but weighs under 250 grams.
All commercial drones also require registration.
Here is a comprehensive overview of the process.
Step 1 – Create an account on D-Flight
D-Flight is an ENAC portal for autonomous flight. The entire site is available in English, so you can navigate it easily. You can access the portal for account registration here.
Step 2 – Complete the registration information
Once you’ve made a D-Flight account, you can begin the registration. Follow the prompts, filling out the necessary information as you go.
ENAC only permits pilots to register one drone model a year, so be choosy about which you decide to register.
Step 3 – Pay the registration fee
Registering your drone in Italy costs €90, or approximately $96.95 USD. That’s substantially more expensive than registering a drone in most countries.
However, it’s a one-time payment that counts toward the pilot, not the drone.
Allow me to elaborate. You can register only one drone in Italy and pay the above fee for five drones. That makes the charge more cost-effective.
You must forward your payment to the Italian government via PayPal or credit card. You cannot send a money order or check.
You must also pay to enroll on D-Flight, and continued use costs €6 per month.
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Step 4 – Adhere the registration information on your drone
Stick the registration information on each drone you registered in a visible location. You’re now ready to fly!
Can I take a drone registered in Italy anywhere in Europe?
Europe has 50 countries, and 27 are part of the EU. You can fly a drone with your Operator ID if you registered in Italy in any of those countries without having to register again.
The full list is as follows:
- The Netherlands
- Czech Republic
- The Republic of Cyprus
However, under the EASA umbrella, there are four more countries where you can fly your drone outside the European Union area.
However, if flying outside the above 27 countries (plus the four above) but within Europe, you must register your drone in the country you’re visiting. Your Italian drone registration will not do you any good.
Italy drone laws for recreational and commercial use
Operating a drone in Italy for commercial use or fun requires you to obey all relevant drone laws.
Here are the laws as established by EASA and ENAC.
Know which EASA drone category you belong in
I mentioned the three EASA categories above, so let’s dig deeper into them now.
The Open categorization is for low-risk drone flights.
You meet this specification if your drone weighs under 25 kilograms at takeoff. It will not exceed a max altitude of 120 meters or fly beyond your visual line of sight.
If your flight carries a slightly higher risk, your drone belongs in the Specific categorization. You must have authorization before launching your drone in most instances.
The Certified categorization is for the highest-risk flights. You must have a license to operate your drone.
However, this category is usually reserved for pilots operating drones strong enough to transport people.
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- Do not fly near certain buildings: ENAC prohibits pilots from using drones near private or public facilities, archaeological sites, public utility installations, and military installations. You cannot fly in or over these sites.
- Stay within 120 meters of altitude: Italian drone law requires all pilots to fly at an altitude no greater than 120 meters over ground level. You can face weighty fines and possible imprisonment for violating this law, so don’t take the chance.
- You cannot fly a drone at night: Some countries permit drone operation after dark if your drone has lights affixed, but Italy doesn’t. Don’t bother adding lights to your drone, as you can’t fly once the sun sets.
- Do not fly over crowds: You can only fly within 500 meters of other people and should never operate your drone over a crowd. This is for their privacy and safety.
- Don’t fly close to airports: ENAC requires pilots to fly no closer than 3 kilometers from any heliport and 8 kilometers from the closest airport.
- Maintain a visual line of sight on your drone: Can you see your drone in the distance without using binoculars? You’re following VLOS (visual line of sight) rules if you answered yes. However, continuing to fly your drone further into the distance breaks ENAC regulations.
- Keep your distance from structures, animals, and vehicles: The 500-meter limit applies to more than people but also to structures, animals, vehicles, and isolated buildings. This rule does not pertain if you have consent from the person or building owner.
- Don’t fly near residential areas: You should remain within 1 kilometer of the closest residential area when operating your drone in Italy. You’re also prohibited from using your drone near populated areas.
What happens if you disregard drone laws in Italy?
Playing off the above rules is to your detriment. ENAC or the Italian government can fine you up to €50,000 for violating drone safety laws.
You could also be imprisoned for a year or less and prohibited from entering any Italian airport for the next two years.
» MORE: Can You Fly a Drone in Germany?
What types of drone flights are allowed in Italy?
The only types of drone flights you should consider in Italy are in unrestricted airspace. This ensures you don’t put others at risk, and you’ll reduce your chances of getting slapped with a hefty fine.
After all, the above fine for violating drone laws is $53,582 USD.
Most of us don’t have that kind of cash lying around. That’s an entire life’s savings for many, and it would be down the drain in an instant for breaking a drone law.
You shouldn’t fly near heliports or airports, and only drone operators in the Specific category under EASA rules can request authorization.
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How to check for restricted areas in Italy
Knowing how strict Italy is about its no-fly zones and how the country’s drone authority will not hesitate to lay the hammer down on those breaking the law, I can’t recommend a drone app enough for your trip to Italy.
You needn’t look far to find one. D-Flight, the same resource you used to register your drone, also provides updated maps.
The maps will outline no-fly zones, which you should strictly avoid.
Do I need insurance to fly a drone in Italy?
ENAC requires all commercial pilots visiting Italy to have third-party liability insurance. Hobbyists don’t require insurance.
However, I would caution you against foregoing it.
You’re responsible for everything you do with your UAV as a drone pilot. Adjusting yourself to the surroundings of a new country while flying your drone is difficult.
You hope you won’t crash your drone or hurt somebody, but insurance is a safety net in case the worst happens.
Insurance protects against damage to your drone, injuries to individuals involved in a drone accident, and property damage.
You won’t have to pay the full cost of hospital bills, repair costs, and lawyer’s fees (if a lawsuit occurs) out of pocket.
You don’t have to decide on insurance right away. You can budget for your trip and then use any leftover cash to buy a policy.
You can even cancel the insurance as soon as you’re home if you wish, even though I don’t suggest it (unless yours is out-of-country insurance and you travel infrequently).
ENAC contact details
Do you have questions for ENAC about registering or insuring your drone? Here’s all the pertinent contact information.
Offices: Via Gaeta 3 00185 Roma, Italy | Viale Castro Pretorio 118 00185 Roma, Italy
- email@example.com (for certified emails only)
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Passenger’s Right & Airport’s Quality Services Unit)
- email@example.com (Institutional Communication Unit)
- Toll-free number: 800-898121 (from Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and only available in Italy)
- Protocol number: 39 06 445961 (from Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., then 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.)
- Passenger’s Right & Airport’s Quality Services Unit: 39 06 445961 | 39 06 44596493
- Institutional Communication Unit: 39 06 445961| 39 06 44596493
- Switchboard: 39 06 445961 | 39 06 44596493 (from Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., then 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.)