Drone Laws in Costa Rica

Agencies Responsible for regulating drones in the Republic of Costa Rica

Costa Rica Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA)


UAS Laws – General rules for flying drones in Costa Rica

The Costa Rican agency responsible for drone safety, DGCA, has provided several internet-accessible details on flying for fun or work. The highlights are enumerated below. For more details go to the link above.

Are drones allowed in Costa Rica?

According to DGCA, drone use is allowed in Costa Rica, subject to DGCA regulations. Read on for more details.

Here are the most important rules to know for flying a drone in Costa Rica:.

  • Fly only during daylight hours and in clear weather. 
  • Never fly your drone above 400 feet above the ground. 
  • Maintain the drone within your visual field. 
  • Avoid flying in congested areas or prohibited zones. 
  • Avoid flying directly over buildings. 
  • Unless you have special permission from the DGAC, avoid flying over cities, communities, and crowds. 
  • Avoid flying within 30 meters (98 feet) of structures. 
  • Avoid flying within eight kilometers (miles) of airports or airfields. 
  • Avoid flying over designated no-fly zones, including the Arenal Volcano, the La Palma passage, the Zurqui Tunnel, the El Murcielago Police Training Center, the La Reforma Prison, the Presidental House, and the Ministerio de Seguridad Publica.

Note for foreign operators

Drones must be registered with the DGCA prior to being flown in Costa Rica. To register your drone, simply visit the government’s official website and complete the permit application. There are no fees, and the following are the only items you should bring with you when visiting the country:

  • A copy of a valid remote pilot’s license 
  • A valid insurance certificate 
  • Registration of drones 
  • Proof of purchase 
  • Your contact information and other pertinent information

Notes for recreational drone pilots flying for fun in Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s new drone regulations apply only to commercial drone operators. Therefore, recreational pilots are not required to register their drones but must follow the Direccion General de Aviacion Civil’s basic rules (DGAC). 


Notes for Commercial Drone Services operations in Costa Rica

If you are a commercial operator, your drone must bear a label that identifies you as the operator/owner, your contact information, and your DGAC drone registration number.

Certification Requirements for Flying a Drone in Costa Rica

Commercial drone pilots must obtain a certificate from the Technical Council of Civil Aviation and a DGAC operational certificate. 

The following are the requirements for obtaining an operational certificate:

  • Successful completion of theoretical and practical courses 
  • Over ten hours of flight experience 
  • Must be at least 18 years old and possess a high school diploma

Useful published information on flying drones in Costa Rica

Here is a sample of what you might expect if you follow the drone laws and fly in Costa Rica…

NOTE: Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (SUAS), Small UAS, Remote Piloted Aerial Systems (RPAS), unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), and drone are interchangeable terms unless specified. Model aircraft, toy aircraft, Remote controlled aircraft, and RC aircraft may be covered by the same regulations unless specified.


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IMPORTANT NOTE

The content on this site is collated by volunteers from public general information. This material is not presented as legal advice of any kind, and we cannot guarantee that the information is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. Do not substitute the information you find here for legal advice from a licensed attorney who is authorized to practice in the jurisdiction. When in doubt, contact the local aviation authority responsible for drone safety, utilize a licensed drone service operator, and/or consult a qualified attorney.

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