Agencies Responsible for regulating drones in Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
Updated July 21, 2022
UAS Laws – General rules for flying drones in Sri Lanka
The Sri Lankan agency responsible for drone safety, CAASL, has provided several details on flying for fun or work. The highlights are enumerated below. For more details, go to the link above.
Are drones allowed in Sri Lanka?
According to the CAASL, flying drones is legal in Sri Lanka, but certain regulations must be strictly followed. Read on for more details.
Here are the most important rules to know for flying a drone in Sri Lanka:
Drones are divided into four ‘Mass Categories’ under the current regulatory framework.
- Category A – 25 kg (55 lbs) or above
- Category B – Above 1 kg (2.2 lbs) but below 25 kg (55 lbs)
- Category C – Above 200 g (0.44 lbs) but at or below 1 kg (2.2 lbs)
- Category D – 200 g (0.44 lbs) or below
The individual categories are subject to specific compliance requirements.
- Any drone (regardless of mass category) equipped with data capturing sensors (i.e., Cameras) that could pose a safety or security threat shall not be flown without prior authorization from the area’s local police.
- Prior authorization from the local police is not required if the operator obtains written approval from the airport in that region or if the aircraft is operated under the supervision of a CAASL-authorized person.
- Drones in categories A and B that are equipped with data-collection sensors must be registered with the CAASL.
- A Category C drone without data-collection sensors must be registered with a certified vendor.
- A Category D drone that is not equipped with data-collection sensors is exempt from registration requirements.
- Drones are not permitted to fly at speeds greater than 87 knots (100 mph).
- The remote pilot must always maintain a visual line of sight (VLOS) and be aware of their surroundings.
- A drone operation should not be conducted in inclement weather or less than 5 kilometers of visibility (3-miles).
- A single drone may be operated concurrently by the same remote pilot.
- It is prohibited to operate a drone from a moving vehicle, boat, or other moving platforms.
- Remote pilots must always yield to manned aircraft and other human-powered vehicles.
- A drone should always keep a safe distance from people, birds, and property.
- Drones are prohibited from operating at night between 20 minutes after sunset and 20 minutes before sunrise.
- Drones classified as Category A, B, or C must be insured.
- Without prior authorization, operating within Sri Lanka’s territorial waters is prohibited.
- A drone cannot operate within Class C, D, or E airspace or five miles of any airport without prior ATC authorization.
Registration Requirements for Drone Flying in Sri Lanka?
- It is a prerequisite for the OPERATION of a drone. Please send the completed Form CAA/AU/015 via email.
- Except for Temporary Certificates, an Unmanned Aircraft Registration Certificate is valid for two years and must be renewed every two years.
- At all times during an operation, the operator of the drone must carry their Registration Certificate.
- Before registration, drones equipped with sensors that could pose a safety or security threat may be subject to an inspection by the CAASL.
- If the drone is no longer operational or will cease to be operated within the country, it must be de-registered by notifying the Director-General of Civil Aviation.
- A remote pilot operating a Category A, B, or C aircraft must obtain registration from the CAASL after passing a Competency Check conducted by the CAASL or an authorized third party.
- To obtain a registration, the operator must be at least 18 years old, unless otherwise authorized in writing by the Director-General of Civil Aviation.
- A remote pilot operating a Category A, B, or C aircraft is required to renew their Authorization Certificate every two years.
- Only Sri Lankan citizens can apply for a standard registration; non-citizens may apply for a Temporary Registration.
Drones classified as Category A, B, or C must bear an identification stamp issued by the Director-General of Civil Aviation that includes the registration number, the owner’s issued photo identification, and emergency contacts.
Special rules for drone flying in Sri Lanka
Drones should not exceed 87 knots (approximately 160 km/h).
The CAA must also approve flights within buildings.
Additionally, operating drones from a moving object (car, boat, etc.) or an elevated position are prohibited (such as a roof).
Avoid flying over roads, rails, power lines, or near communication towers. Controlling the drone while under the influence of intoxicants is prohibited.
When flying over private property, obtain the owner’s permission.
Keep an eye out for signs indicating “No Drone Zones.” Often, these areas are subject to stringent controls.
Note for Foreign Operators
Before importing a drone into the country, you are required to obtain necessary permission/no objections from the Ministry of Defence (MOD), Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka (CAASL), Telecommunication Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL), and Import & Export Control Department.
If you are engaged in drone importation as a business you are required to obtain a permit from CAASL. To obtain a permit please click here.
The following steps describe the drone importation process.
Step 1 (Check the Drone Type is Approved or Not)
Check whether your drone type which is to be imported to the country is in the approved list. (Approved Drone Type List)
If the type is not in the approved type list, you need to apply for type approval from CAASL using the following application CAA/AU/019.
(Please note that it may take up to 7 working days and you should submit any details upon the request of CAASL)
Once you obtained permission for your drone type from CAASL, you may apply for security clearance from MOD and follow the rest of the steps as per the flow chart above.
If your drone is on the Approved List, no objection from CAASL is not required. You may apply for the security clearance from MOD and follow the rest of the steps as per the flow chart above.
Step 2 (Obtaining Security Clearance from the Ministry of Defence)
Apply for security clearance from the Ministry of Defence to import a drone into the country using the below contacts;
Step 3 (Obtaining Spectrum Clearance from Telecommunication Regulatory Commission)
After obtaining the MOD security clearance, apply for spectrum clearance from the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka.
Step 4 (Obtaining Import Control License)
After obtaining the above approvals you are required to obtain Import Control License to clear your units from the Sri Lanka Customs
Website – http://www.imexport.gov.lk/index.php/en/
Step 5 (Collect your item from SL Customs)
You may clear your items from Sri Lanka Customs upon completion the above steps.
Notes for recreational drone pilots flying for fun in Sri Lanka
All drones in Sri Lanka must be registered, and any drone over 1,000 pounds requires a permit.
The following entities must approve:
Registration of drones with aviation authorities
Deputy Chief of Defense Staff – Flight
Appropriate authorization from the aviation authorities (different from the registration)
For this reason, we recommend that you apply for a permit at least four weeks in advance.
Follow the general rules listed above, but check for updates by visiting the regulator’s links provided.
Notes for operating Commercial Drone Services in Sri Lanka
A permit is required for commercial drone use in Sri Lanka.
Approvals are required from the following entities:
- Drone registration with aviation authorities
- Chief of the Defense Staff -Flight
- Permission of the aviation authorities (different from the registration)
Authorization and licensing is a complex process. Please check with the CAASL directly for specifics.
Useful published information on flying drones in Sri Lanka
Here is a sample of what you might expect if you follow the drone laws and fly in Sri Lanka…
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, toy, remote-controlled, 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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