Agencies Responsible for regulating drones in the Republic of Estonia
Updated March 29, 2022
UAS Laws – General rules for flying drones in Estonia
The Estonian agency responsible for drone safety, ECAA, and ETA have provided several internet-accessible details on flying for fun or work. The highlights are enumerated below. For more details go to the link above.
Flying and operating drones in Estonia are subject to European Union Regulation 2019/947. The Estonian Transport Administration (ETA) supervises and implements the Regulation in Estonia. This reform aims to create a truly harmonized drone market in Europe with the highest level of safety. In practice, it means that once a drone Οperator has received authorization from its state of registry, they will be allowed to circulate in the European Union freely. According to the level of risk involved, this new legal framework will introduce three categories of drone operations: Open, Specific and Certified
Drone operations are to be conducted according to the Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/945 and Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/947 (as amended).
Are drones allowed in Estonia?
According to ETA, drone use is allowed in Estonia, subject to ETA and EASA regulations. Read on for more details.
Here are the most important EASA rules to know for flying a drone in Estonia:
Drone operators must register all drones in Estonia. Following registration, you must adhere to the following rules.
- Drones may fly up to 50 meters (170 feet) above ground or sea level in the Open category and up to 120 meters (400 feet) in the Specific category. (The ETA may grant exemptions to operators of specific category drones.)
- Direct visual contact with the drone is required, and the operating distance should not exceed 500 meters.
- Avoid flying too close to residential areas or populated areas.
- Maintain a safety buffer zone of one kilometer around residential areas.
- Unless the owner/person consents, a safety distance of 500 meters from isolated buildings, people, vehicles, animals, and structures is required.
- Avoid flying near airports and heliports. Stay a minimum of eight (8) kilometers away from airports and three (3) kilometers from heliports for safety.
- At no time is it permissible to fly a drone at night.
- There shall be no flying over, within, or near military installations, public utility installations, archaeological sites, or public or private facilities.
Given the low level of risk, neither prior authorization by the competent authority nor a declaration by the drone operator is required. The drone’s total takeoff mass must be less than 25kg, and it must be operated within a visual line of sight at a maximum altitude of 120m.
Considering the moderate level of risk involved, flights in this category require authorization before the operation. The permission is given considering the mitigation measures identified in an operational risk assessment, except in specific standard scenarios where an operator declaration is sufficient.
Given the inherent dangers, certification of the drone and a licensed remote pilot are required. If your drone is capable of carrying people, you fall under the Certified category!
EASA Summary of Drone Flight Operation Requirements
Note for foreign operators
Operator Registration (Non-EU Residents)
- If you are coming from a non-EU country and this is the first time you will fly your drone in an EU country, you MUST register as an Operator.
- Upon registration, you will receive a unique Operator Registration number which you MUST attach to your drone. If you have several drones, the same number must be attached to all of them.
- You are not allowed to fly in NO FLY ZONES, and you must keep aways a minimum of 8km distance away from airports/heliports.
- If you already conducted operations in another EU country before going to Estonia, you must not register again. You always register to the first non-EU country you have conducted flights
Remote Pilot Certificate (Non-EU Residents)
- If you want to fly your drone in Estonia and live in a non-EU country, you must hold a Remote Pilot Certificate issued from an EU country.
- You can get the A1/A3 Certificate by registering with the online Remote Pilot School.
- The online training and exam are required for those who want to fly a drone in the ‘Open’ category in subcategories A1/A3.
- The pass mark is 75%, and you have 3 tries in total to pass.
- Once you pass your exam, you will receive your remote pilot certificate. Its validity will be 5 years.
- You must have your Remote Pilot Certificate in your possession whenever you plan to perform drone operations in Estonia and present it when asked by the authorities.
How to register as a drone pilot or operator in Estonia?
According to European Regulation (EU) 2019/947, registration is mandatory for UAS operators (not for UAS themselves).
The UAS Pilot, also known as the Remote Pilot (RP), is the person physically behind the UAS flight controls. They are fully responsible for the safety of the flight throughout operations.
The UAS Operator is the person or company who oversees operations and gives flight instructions. This person or legal entity bears all responsibility for the operations of the drone (s) on their behalf. Very often, in the OPEN category and as an individual, the Pilot and the Operator are the same person.
Who should register?
As part of the OPEN category, registration is compulsory for operators:
- UAS that have a mass of 250 g or more;
- UAS that have a mass of less than 250 g but:
- are able to operate at speeds greater than 90km / h
- are equipped with a camera or a microphone, if these UAS are NOT toys *
* A UAS is a toy when a manufacturer intends it for children under the age of 14 and meets the minimum safety criteria required to be so named. Compliance with these standards naturally limits the capabilities of the UAS (size, weight, non-dangerous spare parts, no powerful motor, etc.): see Directive 2009/48 / EC of 18 June 2009 on the safety of toys
Under the SPECIFIC category, registration is compulsory for all operators.
Natural persons can only register in the country where they reside.
Legal persons must register in the country where their principal place of business is located.
Registration can only be done in one Member State at a time.
How do you register in Estonia for drone operations?
The operator registration procedure begins at the online ETA registration link (LOIS)
This UAS operator registration number is valid for one year and must therefore be renewed periodically following the same procedure. The operator therefore always uses the same number unless the latter is permanently deregistered from the register.
Here are the most important existing transitional rules to know for flying a drone in Estonia:
Flying a drone is legal in Estonia, according to the country’s regulator, the ECAA. However, there are areas where special permits are required.
In controlled airspace (Tallinn, Tartu, and Aemari), flights are only possible with permission from the tower.
- Flights below 500 feet / 150 meters do not require a permit.
- Drone pilots must obtain approval at least three working days in advance for less than 500 feet / 150 meters.
- Permit requirements for flights above 500 feet are outlined in the following section below.
- Drone pilots must have a permit and submit an approval request at least seven working days before flights above 500 feet / 150 meters.
- You may film anywhere with a drone for personal use without notifying or obtaining permission from anyone, but you may not intentionally film someone without their knowledge and consent. Commercial use requires written permission from anyone who can be seen in your footage.
- Drones must not be operated recklessly or in a way that endangers human life, health, property, or other airspace users.
Permit Requirements for Flying a Drone in Estonia
The license costs 45 euros and is valid for a period of up to a year. Permits are valid for one year and are required to fly above 150 meters or within controlled airspace. Regardless of authorization, you must coordinate flights in this airspace with air traffic control. Permitting will usually take three to seven business days for processing.
In Estonia, several distinct airspace blocks require a single permit from the Civil Aviation Administration to conduct drone operations. They are as follows:
- Flights over regulated airspace and through flight information zones
- Flights into or near prohibited, restricted, temporarily separated, or temporarily reserved areas and sensitive fauna are forbidden.
- All flights at altitudes greater than 500 feet / 150 meters
To obtain the special permit, you must submit an application to the Estonian CAA with the following information about the drone operator or enterprise:
- legal name (in case of an enterprise)
- business registry code (if applicable)
- phone number
- email address
- names and personal identification numbers of the RPA pilots.
The individual who has the authority to represent the enterprise must sign the application for a special permit.
Notes for recreational drone pilots flying for fun in Estonia
Not used commercially
- Abide by the ‘Lennuameti peadirektori (üldkorralduslik ettekirjutus nr 33)’ and the ‘Majandus-ja taristuministri määrus nr 24 (nr 923/2012)’
- Be nationally registered
- Respect the privacy of others
You are not permitted to:
- Interfere with crewed aircraft
- Fly through the clouds or into restricted areas
See general EASA rules above.
Notes for operating Commercial Drone Services in Estonia
Commercial, scientific, or manufacturer testing.
- Respect the ‘Lennuameti peadirektori (üldkorralduslik ettekirjutus nr 33)’. as well as the ‘Majandus-ja taristuministri määrus nr 24 (nr 923/2012)’.
- Be registered on a national level and possess a flight permit in addition to an Aerial Work Certificate. Maintain third-party liability insurance with a minimum coverage of EUR 1 million.
You must not:
- Interfere with the operation of crewed aircraft
- Fly through the clouds or into restricted areas
See general EASA rules above.
Useful published information on flying drones in Estonia
Here is a sample of what you might expect if you follow the drone laws and fly in Estonia…
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.
Traveling with a Drone?
Click here to read our Comprehensive Guide For Traveling With A Drone
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