Agencies Responsible for regulating drones in the Portugese Republic (Portugal)
Updated July 21, 2022
UAS Laws – General rules for flying drones in Portugal
The Portuguese agency responsible for drone safety, ANAC, has provided several internet-accessible details on flying drones for fun or work. The highlights are enumerated below. For more details, go to the links above.
Flying and operating drones in Portugal are subject to European Union Regulation 2019/947. The National Civil Aviation Authority (ANAC) supervises and implements the Regulation in Portugal. 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 Portugal?
Here are the most important rules to know for flying a drone in Portugal:
Drone operators must register all drones in Portugal. 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 ANAC 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 Portugal, 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 Portugal 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 Portugal and present it when asked by the authorities.
How to register as a drone pilot or operator in Portugal?
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 Portugal for drone operations?
The operator registration procedure is available at ANAC Online Drone 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.
Do you need permission to capture images, record video, or perform and aerial survey in Portugal?
Yes you need the NAA authorization to capture drone images, record video, or perform an Aerial Survey in Portugal. The rules for capturing images and making videos are regulated by other legislation, namely Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data (National Data Protection Commission – www.cnpd.pt), and by the authorizations to be requested from the National Aeronautical Authority/Portuguese Air Force (www.aan.pt).
Notes for recreational drone pilots flying for fun in Portugal
See general rules above.
Notes for operating Commercial Drone Services in Portugal
To conduct commercial activities in Portugal, you must notify and register with the ANAC. Additional requirements vary according to the nature of your intended operations.
See general rules above.
Useful published information on flying drones in Portugal
Here is a sample of what you might expect if you follow the drone laws and fly in Portugal…
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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