Drone Laws in Kenya

Agencies Responsible for regulating drones in the Republic of Kenya

Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA)

The Civil Aviation (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) Regulations, 2020


UAS Laws – General rules for flying drones in Kenya

The Kenyan agency responsible for drone safety, KCAA, 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 Kenya?

According to KCAA, drone use is allowed in Kenya, subject to KCAA regulations. Read on for more details.

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

Kenya categorizes drones according to the risk of the flights:

  • Category A: low risk (up to 25 kg)
    • Provided that operations are conducted within Visual line-of-sight (VLOS) only. 
    • Specified distances from airports and people. 
    • Maximum height of 400ft above ground level (AGL). 
    • Flights shall take place upon notification to the Authority. 
  • Category B: medium, regulated lower risk
    • This operation category would require operational authorization from an Aviation Authority before the flight(s) taking place. 
    • Appropriate limitations/restrictions would be applied based on the type of operation, the complexity of the UAS, and the specific qualifications and experience of operating personnel.
    • Approval for the operation would be based on a safety risk assessment analysis and any mitigations employed to reduce any risks to an acceptable level.
    • This category encompasses operations where the risk to persons being overflown is more significant than what would be permitted in Category A, or involves sharing the airspace with other crewed or crewless aircraft; and 
    • The operations shall be conducted within defined limitations (e.g., Visual line-of-sight (VLOS). 
  • Category C: high risk
    • UAS operations in this category shall be conducted in any airspaces not classified as prohibited, restricted, or dangerous and shall be subject to ATC instructions and guidance and at heights and lateral distances from any persons, buildings, or objects as prescribed in the Civil Aviation (Rules of the Air) Regulations. All operations under this category shall be approved or authorized by the Authority. 
    • UAS operations in this category may be conducted within BVLOS provided that the RPA has the required capabilities and is fitted with the appropriate equipment. In addition, the pilot is suitably qualified and holds appropriate ratings for such an operation. 
    • UAS in this category shall be issued with a Certificate of Airworthiness by the Authority based on the Type Certificate issued by the State of design/manufacture.
    • Personnel operating UAS in this category shall have a valid license issued by the Authority.

A Remote Pilot License is necessary for flights in categories B and C.

In category A, registration, a permit certificate, compliance with the following rules, and safety distances are sufficient. 

  • A person shall not transfer ownership of a drone without the approval of the KCAA.
  • Operators must register their drone with the Authority and be issued with a certificate of registration.
  • All drone operations must be conducted under a specific operational category based on risk factors.
  • Commercial drone operations require a pilot to obtain a Remote Aircraft Operators Certificate (ROC) from the Authority.
  • Drones shall not fly above 400 feet AGL or within 164 feet (50 meters) of any person, vessel, or vehicle that is not a part of the operation.
  • A pilot shall not fly a drone in non-Visual Meteorological Conditions or at night unless authorized by the Authority.
  • No person shall operate an Unmanned Aircraft System over a public road or along the public road at a distance of less than 164 feet (50 meters).
  • A public roadway shall not be used as a place of landing or take-off of a drone.
  • Operating a drone within 6.2 miles (10 kilometers) of an airport from the airport reference point for code C, D, E, and F airports is prohibited without authorization
  • Operating a drone within 4.3 miles (7 kilometers) of an airport from the airport reference point for code A and B airports is prohibited without authorization.

How to register a drone in Kenya?

Drones now have to be registered with the Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA), and a certificate will be issued. 

Applications for registration of UAS shall be submitted online at www.kcaa.or.ke The application shall be accompanied by the following documents:

  • Identification documents
  • Police clearance certificate
  • Company registration document (if applicable)
  • Photo of the UAS
  • Type Certificate of the UAS (if applicable) 
  • Circuit diagram of the UAS (if applicable) 

The Authority shall undertake due diligence when reviewing any requests for registration in conjunction with relevant government agencies.
Approval shall be granted upon successful review by the Authority, and a certificate of registration shall be issued. 

According to the law, drones should be identifiable, which means the registration data must be attached visibly.

How to get a permit to fly a drone in Kenya?

Applications for registration of UAS shall be submitted online at www.kcaa.or.ke The application shall be accompanied by the following documents 

  • Identification document, i.e., passport
    Color photograph of UAS (front and side, on the ground, occupying most of the image size)
  • A clear picture of the serial number of UAS
  • Copy of drone pilot license/certificate
  • Safety documentation containing at least emergency procedures in case of: 
    • Control failure 
    • Engine failure 
    • Accumulator issues 
    • Command and control data link failure 
  • Copy of a liability insurance document related to UAS operation Type certificate (if applicable) 

The application shall undergo the vetting and evaluation process 

Approval shall be granted upon successful review. 

Additional Note for Foreign Operators

In Kenya, drone ownership is restricted to citizens, residents, businesses, and governments. This restriction would rule out foreign tourists, leaving only the option of renting a drone locally. The law does, however, include a 30-day temporary permit that may be appropriate for travelers.

See details below for each import type.


Notes for recreational drone pilots flying for fun in Kenya

See general rules above.

How to get a temporary import permit for the private use of a drone in Kenya?

A UAS imported in Kenya for private use shall not be used for any activity involving reward or gain. This restriction includes the development of content aimed at a publication for personal gain.

An owner of a UAS to be temporarily imported in Kenya shall apply to the Authority for approval of the temporary import in a prescribed format. The application shall be accompanied by: 

  • Identification documents
  • Details of the UAS.
  • Valid visa for the duration of stay (where applicable); and 
  • Areas of operation of the UAS. 

A UAS temporarily imported into Kenya for private use shall remain in the country for a specified duration (specified in the temporary import permit). The Authority shall be notified when it is exported out of the country. 


Notes for operating Commercial Drone Services in Kenya

Individuals or businesses wishing to use drones for commercial purposes must apply to KCAA for a Remote Aircraft Operators Certificate (ROC). 

According to the regulations, “the Authority may issue a ROC only after the UAS operator demonstrates the following:

  • Adequate organization, 
  • Method of controlling and supervising flight operations, 
  • Training program and ground handling and maintenance arrangements that are consistent with the nature and extent of the operations specified and commensurate with the size, structure, and complexity of the UAS.

A person shall not operate a UAS in Kenya without authorization from the Authority. 

The Authority may, upon application, grant a short-term license to an applicant for a period not exceeding thirty (30) days renewable once.

The Authority may impose such terms and conditions as it deems fit and shall have regard to the public interest and the need to provide reasonable protection for Kenyan Operators. 

How to get a temporary import permit for the commercial use of a drone in Kenya?

An owner of a UAS to be temporarily imported in Kenya shall apply to the Authority for approval of the temporary import in a prescribed format. The application shall be accompanied by: 

  • Identification documents
  • Details of the UAS.
  • Valid visa for the duration of stay (where applicable); and 
  • Areas of operation of the UAS. 

A UAS temporarily imported into Kenya for private use shall remain in the country for a specified duration (specified in the temporary import permit). The Authority shall be notified when it is exported out of the country. 

The Authority may refuse to grant an application for a short-term license based on the regularity of short-term operations under this regulation. 


Useful published information on flying drones in Kenya

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

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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