Agencies Responsible for regulating drones in the Republic of India
Please note that DGCA has provided new drone rules in India. Please check the site for updates.
Updated February 19, 2022
Drone rules in India – General rules for flying drones in India
The Indian agency responsible for drone safety, DGCA, has provided a number of internet-accessible details on flying for fun or for work. The highlights are enumerated below. For more details go to the link above.
Are drones allowed in India?
According to DGCA, drone use is allowed in India, subject to DGCA regulations. Read on for more details.
Here are the most important rules to know for flying a drone in India:
The laws are quite detailed, explicit, and should be reviewed before flying a drone in India. The laws are enumerated in this document: MINISTRY OF CIVIL AVIATION NOTIFICATION – New Delhi, the 25th August, 2021
Drone Categories in India
The unmanned aircraft system shall be categorized into the following three categories, namely:––
- rotorcraft; and
- hybrid unmanned aircraft system.
The airplane, rotorcraft, and hybrid unmanned aircraft system shall be further sub-categorized as follows:––
- remotely piloted aircraft system;
- model remotely piloted aircraft system; and
- autonomous unmanned aircraft system.
Classification of unmanned aircraft systems.— The unmanned aircraft system shall, based on the maximum all-up weight including payload, be classified as follows:–––
- Nano unmanned aircraft system: weighing less than or equal to 250 grams;
- Micro unmanned aircraft system: weighing more than 250 grams, but less than or equal to 2 kilograms;
- Small unmanned aircraft system: weighing more than 2 kilograms, but less than or equal to 25 kilograms;
- Medium unmanned aircraft system: weighing more than 25 kilograms, but less than or equal to 150 kilograms; and
- Large unmanned aircraft system: weighing more than 150 kilograms.
Registration is required for all but the Nano category.
Drone Registration in India
- No person shall operate an unmanned aircraft system without first registering it on the digital sky platform and obtaining a unique identification number unless exempted from the requirement of a unique identification number under these rules.
- A registration record shall be maintained by the Director General of all such unmanned aircraft systems to which unique identification number has been issued under these rules.
- It shall be the responsibility of the person operating an unmanned aircraft system to ensure that such unmanned aircraft system conforms to a valid type certificate.
Application and procedure for registration:
- Any person who intends to register and obtain a unique identification number for his unmanned aircraft system shall make an application in Form D-2 on the digital sky platform along with the fee as specified in rule 46 and provide requisite details including the unique number of the type certificate to which such unmanned aircraft system conforms to.
- The digital sky platform shall verify the details and issue a unique identification number to the applicant.
- The unique identification number of an unmanned aircraft system shall be linked to the unique serial number provided by the manufacturer and the unique serial numbers of its flight control module and remote pilot station.
- No person shall replace the flight control module or remote pilot station of an unmanned aircraft system whose serial number is linked to such unmanned aircraft system’s unique identification number, without first updating, on the digital sky platform, the unique serial number of the new flight control module or remote pilot station, within a period of seven days from the date of such replacement or before operating such unmanned aircraft system, whichever is earlier.
Registration of existing unmanned aircraft systems:
- A person owning an unmanned aircraft system manufactured in India or imported into India on or before the 30th day of November, 2021 shall, within a period of thirty one days falling after the said date, make an application to register and obtain a unique identification number for his unmanned aircraft system and provide requisite details in Form D-2 on the digital sky platform along with the fee as specified in rule 46.
- The digital sky platform shall verify the details furnished under sub-rule (1) and issue a unique identification number to the applicant, if the unmanned aircraft system:
- has a valid Drone Acknowledgement Number issued by the digital sky platform on or before the date mentioned in sub-rule (1);
- has a Goods and Service Tax paid invoice for the unmanned aircraft system; and
- is part of the list of unmanned aircraft systems published on the digital sky platform by the Director General.
Remote Pilot License in India
No individual other than a holder of a valid remote pilot license enlisted on the digital sky platform shall operate an unmanned aircraft system.
A remote pilot license shall specifically mention the category, sub-category, and classification of the unmanned aircraft system or a combination of these, for which it is issued.
An individual shall be eligible to obtain a remote pilot license, if he––
- is not less than eighteen years of age and not more than sixty-five years of age;
- has passed class tenth examination or its equivalent from a recognised Board; and
- has successfully completed such training as may be specified by the Director General, from any authorised remote pilot training organisation.
Procedure for obtaining a remote pilot license
- Any individual, who desires to obtain a remote pilot license for any category, sub-category, or class of an unmanned aircraft system, or a combination thereof, shall complete the training specified by the Director-General for such category, sub-category, or class, and pass the tests conducted by the authorized remote pilot training organization.
- Within seven days of successful completion of the training and passing of the tests under sub-rule (1), the authorised remote pilot training organisation shall make an application for remote pilot licence in Form D-4 on the digital sky platform along with the fee as specified in rule 46, providing details of the individual who has passed the test.
- The individual in respect of whom an application has been made by the authorised remote pilot training organisation under sub-rule (2) shall be issued a remote pilot certificate through digital sky platform.
- The Director General shall, within fifteen days from the date of issue of the remote pilot certificate under sub-rule (3), issue the remote pilot licence to such individual through the digital sky platform.
Validity of license
A remote pilot license shall––
- be valid only if it is enlisted on the digital sky platform;
- unless suspended or cancelled, remain valid for a period of ten years;
- be renewed by the Director General for such period as may be specified therein, subject to a maximum period of ten years, on payment of fee as specified in rule 46:
Provided that the holder of the remote pilot license shall undergo such refresher course as may be specified by the Director-General on the digital sky platform from time to time.
Exemption from obtaining a license
No remote pilot license shall be required for
- operating a nano unmanned aircraft system; and
- operating a micro unmanned aircraft system for non-commercial purposes.
The provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (59 of 1988) and rules made thereunder shall apply, mutatis mutandis, to the third party insurance of unmanned aircraft system and compensation in case of damage to life or property caused by such an unmanned aircraft system:
Provided that a nano unmanned aircraft system may operate without third-party insurance.
A person operating an unmanned aircraft system may use an insurance product specially designed for such operations, as and when such insurance product is approved by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India.
Foreigners are currently not allowed to fly RPAs in India. For commercial purposes, they need to lease RPAS to an Indian entity who in turn will obtain a Unique Identification Number (UIN) and UAOP from DGCA.
What are the requirements for the import of RPAs (with or without a camera) in India?
- Any entity intending to import RPAS in India shall obtain Equipment Type Approval (ETA) from WPC Wing, Department of Telecommunication for operating in a de-licensed frequency band(s). Such approval shall be valid for a particular make and model.
- The applicant, other than the Nano category, shall apply to DGCA along with ETA for import clearance. Based upon the import clearance issued by DGCA, DGFT shall issue a license for the import of RPAS.
Notes for recreational drone pilots flying for fun in India
- Ensure your Drone (except Nano in uncontrolled airspace up to 50ft) is Digital Sky “No Permission- No Takeoff” (NPNT) Compliant
- Obtain Unique Identification Number (UIN) from DGCA for operating in controlled airspace and affix it on your drone
- Obtain Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit (UAOP), if applicable from DGCA for commercial operations and keep it handy
- Obtain Permission before each flight through Digital Sky Platform
- Ensure the drone is in good condition (not damaged) and fit for flying safely.
- Keep an eye on interference: Interference can be from mobile devices or blockage of signals, do watch out when flying your drone.
- Fly only during daylight (after sunrise to before sunset)Fly in good weather: Good weather lets you not only fly your drone better but also keep track of it in the air.
- Fly in visual line of sight (VLOS): Always be within visual range of your drone.
- Follow Flying Guidelines
- Do your homework before spending considerable money on a drone. Make sure you clearly understand all operational and regulatory aspects.
- Be aware of Airspace Restrictions/ No Drone Zones
- Do stay away from airports and heliports
- Respect the privacy of people
- Keep local police informed about your drone flying activity. If you are ever approached by police provide all requisite information.
- Do log your flights and inform concerned authorities (like DGCA, local police, etc.) of any incidents/ accidents
- Don’t fly a Nano drone above 50ft (15m) from the ground level
- Don’t fly a Micro drone above 200ft (60m) from the ground level
- Don’t fly drones more than 400ft (120m) from the ground level
- Don’t fly a drone near other aircraft (manned or unmanned)
- Don’t fly a drone near airports and heliports
- Don’t fly a drone over groups of people, public events, or stadiums full of people without permission
- Don’t fly the drone over government facilities/military bases or over/ near any no-drone zones.
- Don’t fly a drone over private property unless permission is given.
- Don’t fly a drone in controlled airspace near airports without filing flight plan orAAI/ADC permission (at least 24 hours before actual operation).
- Don’t drop or carry hazardous material
- Don’t fly a drone under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Don’t fly the drone from a moving vehicle, ship, or aircraft
Notes for operating Commercial Drone Services in India
See notes for hobbyists above.
In general, the process for receiving commercial clearance to fly an RPAS in India is quite complex, requiring applications and interactions with multiple agencies (see below).
|1||Directorate General of Civil Aviation||Import clearance
Issuance of UIN
Issuance & Renewal of UAOP
Suspension / Cancellation of UIN & UAOP in case of violations of regulations.
|2||Directorate General of Foreign Trade||Import license|
|3||Ministry of Home Affairs||Security clearance|
|4||Ministry of Defence||Permission for aerial survey/imageries/ videography/ still photography over the restricted/prohibited areas on a case-to-case basis|
|5||Indian Air Force||Air Defence Clearance
Monitoring of RPA movements in the country
|6||Wireless Planning and Coordination Wing, DoT||Equipment Type Approval (ETA) or License for RPA|
|7||Bureau of Civil Aviation Security||Approval of the Security Programme|
|8||Airport Authority of India||Flight Plan Approval
Monitoring of RPA movements in the country
|9||Local Police Office||Enforcement of violators as per applicable IPCs|
Useful published information on flying drones in India
Here is a video by an Indian Blogger on the 2020 India Drone Regulations…
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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