Drone Laws in India

Agencies Responsible for regulating drones in the Republic of India

India Ministry of Civil Aviation

Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) Site for RPAS

India’s Digitalsky Website for drone registration and clearance

Please note that it appears that drone enlistment and flight permission using Digitalsky is temporarily suspended. Please check the site for updates.


UAS Laws – 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: CAR Section 3 Section X Part 1

Drone Categories in India

Registration is required for all but the Nano category.

  • Nano: Less than or equal to 250 grams (.55 pounds)
  • Micro: From 250 grams (.55 pounds) to 2kg (4.4 pounds)
  • Small: From 2kg (4.4 pounds) to 25kg (55 pounds)
  • Medium: From 25kg (55 pounds) to 150kg (330 pounds)
  • Large: Greater than 150kg (33 pounds)

Foreign Operators

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

Do’s:

  • 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’ts:

  • 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).


No.
StakeholderResponsibility
1Directorate General of Civil AviationImport clearance
Issuance of UIN
Issuance & Renewal of UAOP
Suspension / Cancellation of UIN & UAOP in case of violations of regulations.
2Directorate General of Foreign TradeImport license
3Ministry of Home AffairsSecurity clearance
4Ministry of DefencePermission for aerial survey/imageries/ videography/ still photography over the restricted/prohibited areas on a case-to-case basis
5Indian Air ForceAir Defence Clearance
Monitoring of RPA movements in the country
6Wireless Planning and Coordination Wing, DoTEquipment Type Approval (ETA) or License for RPA
7Bureau of Civil Aviation SecurityApproval of the Security Programme
8Airport Authority of IndiaFlight Plan Approval
Monitoring of RPA movements in the country
9Local Police OfficeEnforcement 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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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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