Drone Laws in Iceland

Agencies Responsible for regulating drones in Iceland

Icelandic Transport Authority (ITA)

European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA)


UAS Laws – General rules for flying drones in Iceland

The Iceland agency responsible for drone safety, ITA, 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.

As of Summer 2021, national rules for drones will be replaced by common European regulations. 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 Iceland?

According to ITA, drones are allowed in Iceland, subject to ITA and EASA regulations. Read on for details.

Here are the most important rules to know for flying a drone in Iceland:

Drone operators must register all drones in Iceland. 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 Special category. (The Department of Civil Aviation may grant exemptions to operators of special 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.

Open Category

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.

Special Category

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.

Certified Category

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

EASA Summary Table of Drone Flight Operation Requirements
EASA Summary Table 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 Iceland, 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 Iceland 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 Iceland and present it when asked by the authorities

How to register as a drone pilot or operator in Iceland?

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 Iceland for drone operations?

The operator registration procedure begins at the online registration link

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.

Iceland Drone Regulations Currently in place before EU Rules implemented:

  1. It is prohibited to fly a remotely piloted aircraft over crowds of people.
  2. Remotely piloted aircraft may only be flown for leisure within densely populated areas if the maximum take-off mass does not exceed 3 kg. Remotely piloted aircraft may not be flown closer than 50 meters to residential buildings or premises without approval by the owner, caretaker, or resident’s association.
  3. Remotely piloted aircraft may be flown outside densely populated areas if the maximum take-off mass does not exceed 25 kg. Remotely piloted aircraft may not be flown closer than 150 meters to holiday cottages, residential buildings, or premises outside urban areas without approval by the owner or caretaker.
  4. The instructions, restrictions, and prohibition by air traffic services, police, the Coast Guard, the Icelandic Transport Authority, and other authorities on flights of remotely piloted aircraft in specific areas shall be followed, including restrictions of flights within protected areas based on the Nature Conservation Act or special Acts that may apply to the area concerned.
  5. The Icelandic Transport Authority may define certain areas, including zones within densely populated areas, as areas where it is prohibited to fly a remotely piloted aircraft. The limits of the zones shall be announced on the Icelandic Transport Authority’s website. The Icelandic Transport Authority may require geo-fencing equipment for operations within certain areas.
  6. The restrictions set out in the Aeronautical Information Publication – AIP shall be taken into account.
  7. All air traffic, as well as other traffic, shall be taken into account. Airspace shall be monitored where remotely piloted flights take place so that the flight can be stopped or diverted if manned aircraft approaches the space. At the same time, care shall be taken that flights will not interfere with any other traffic such as ships or vehicles and not impair the attention of pilots or other persons on board. Remotely piloted aircraft shall keep out of the way of other traffic and may not be used to affect other traffic.
  8. It is prohibited to fly a remotely piloted aircraft at an altitude greater than 120 m above ground or sea.
  9. Remotely piloted aircraft flights shall always be conducted within the visual line of sight of a remote pilot or an RPA observer of a remotely piloted aircraft. However, a remotely piloted aircraft weighing less than 3 kg may be flown beyond the visual line of sight of a remote pilot in case of flights outside densely populated and habited areas, provided that spacing is ensured and provided that the flight does not threaten persons, animals, and manned aircraft or causes damage to property or disruption to bird colonies or wildlife habitats.
  10. A permit from the airport operator is required for flying a remotely piloted aircraft within an aerodrome area.
  11. A permit from the airport operator is required for flying a remotely piloted aircraft within:
    1. 2 km from the boundaries of Keflavik Airport, Reykjavik Airport, Akureyri Airport, and Egilsstadir Airpor
    2. 1.5 km from the boundaries of other scheduled air service airports, with the exception that flights operated below the height of the highest structures in the immediate vicinity of the flight trajectory of the aircraft, do not require permits.
  12. Extreme caution and care shall be exercised in the proximity of landing and take-off areas of other aerodromes and places of landing. Remotely piloted aircraft shall always make way for other air traffic. Information on the boundaries of runways and scheduled air service airports can be found on the website of the Icelandic Transport Authority.
  13. It is prohibited to fly within 150 meters from public buildings such as the Parliament House, the President’s Residence, ministries, police stations, and prisons.
  14. Police, Coast Guard, and other Civil Protection Response units as defined in Regulation No. 100/2009 on the Organization and Functions of the Board of Coordination and Control Centre and Civil Protection Respondents are exempted from the limits of paragraphs 1 – 3, 8 – 9 and 13.

Notes for recreational drone pilots flying for fun in Iceland

  • Each drone must bear the pilot’s name, address, and telephone number. 
  • When flying in urban areas, the drone’s weight must be less than 3 kilograms (6.61 pounds). 
  • When flying in rural areas, the drone’s weight must be less than 25 kilograms (55 pounds). 
  • Insurance is required for drones weighing more than 20 kilograms (44 pounds). 
  • Avoid flying higher than 120 meters (394 feet) above the ground or sea level. 
  • Avoid flying directly over crowds or people. 
  • Avoid flying within a two-kilometer (1.24-mile) radius of any international airport. 
  • Avoid flying within a 1.5-kilometer (0.93-mile) radius of any other airport. 
  • Avoid flying within 50 meters (164 feet) of any building in urban areas. Avoid flying within 150 meters (492 feet) of any structure in rural areas. 
  • Avoid flying within 150 meters (492 feet) of a public structure. 
  • While flying, drone pilots must maintain a direct visual line of sight with their drones. 
  • Drone pilots are responsible for familiarizing themselves with local drone regulations and privacy laws. 
  • Drone flights are not permitted to obstruct air traffic. 
  • Drones are not permitted to fly over moving vehicles or ships. 
  • Drone pilots are liable for any damage caused during flight by their drones.

Notes for Commercial Drone Services operations in Iceland

  • All drones must be registered with the ITA and equipped with a unique identifier. 
  • When flying in urban areas, the drone’s weight must be less than 7 kilograms (15.5 pounds). 
  • When flying in rural areas, the drone’s weight must be less than 25 kilograms (55 pounds). 
  • Insurance is required for drones weighing more than 20 kilograms (44 pounds). 
  • Avoid flying higher than 120 meters (394 feet) above the ground or sea level. 
  • Avoid flying directly over crowds or people. 
  • Avoid flying within a two-kilometer (1.24-mile) radius of any international airport. 
  • Avoid flying within a 1.5-kilometer (0.93-mile) radius of any other airport. 
  • Avoid flying within 50 meters (164 feet) of any building in urban areas. Avoid flying within 150 meters (492 feet) of any structure in rural areas. 
  • Avoid flying within 150 meters (492 feet) of a public structure. 
  • While flying, drone pilots must maintain a direct visual line of sight with their drone. 
  • Drone pilots are responsible for familiarizing themselves with local drone regulations and privacy laws. 
  • Drone flights are not permitted to obstruct air traffic. 
  • Drones are not permitted to fly over moving vehicles or ships. 
  • Drone pilots are liable for any damage caused during flight by their drones.

Useful published information on flying drones in Iceland

Here is a promotion video by the ITA highlighting the regulations for flying drones in Iceland…

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

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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