Flying a drone can be a lot of fun if you follow the rules. In this article, we provide guidance on how you can register and fly a drone safely in the UAE, following the country’s rules and regulations.
Getting a recreational drone permit in the UAE
Note: The below-mentioned article is only applicable to UAE Residents. Information is subject to change hence we recommend you also check the DCAA and GCAA websites before proceeding with your registration
So, you’ve got your brand new swanky DJI drone. Something you’ve been saving up for quite a while and now it’s finally here. You’re confused about all the rules and regulations. Not to worry because that’s exactly what we here at ‘Arabian Gazette’ are here to help you with.
First things first….
It’s important to understand that when it comes to the UAE, you will have two different ‘Civil Aviation Authorities’ to deal with. You’ve got the ‘General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA)’ that governs all the emirates of the UAE except Dubai and you’ve got ‘Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA)’ which governs the emirate of Dubai.
Each of these authorities have their own set of rules and regulations and although registering the drone with GCAA is mandatory across the whole of the UAE, registering with DCAA is only required if you intend to fly your drone in Dubai.
Drone Registration Process with the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority
Click on the link below to begin the registration process with GCAA. Registration is free and usually takes about 2-3 working days for you to receive the Drone Registration Certificate.
You will need to have the following things ready:
- Copy of Your Passport/Emirates ID
- General Photo of the Drone
- Photo of the drone where it shows the serial number
- Specifications of the drone, such as the Brand, Model, Color, and Weight
Once you click on the link. Fill up all the details and upload all the relevant documents as required. You should receive a copy of your drone registration certificate in your email in about two days’ time.
There is no expiry date for the certificate issued by GCAA hence no need for annual renewal or anything of that sort. The only time you have to get in touch with them is if the drone is damaged or you intend to sell it to a new party. Then you will have to get in touch with them for the de-registration process.
We highly recommend you download the ‘My Drone Hub’ app by UAE General Civil Aviation Authority once you complete the registration process and receive your certificate. This is available on both Google Play Store and Apple Appstore.
The app shows you all the details of your drone as well as the areas where you are legally permitted to fly. You can also download a copy of your GCAA permit through the app.
Drone Registration Process with Dubai Civil Aviation Authority
This is a slightly more complicated process and is only needed if you are planning on flying the drone in Dubai. You will receive an e-certificate from DCAA with your photo and drone details that you must always carry whenever flying in the emirate of Dubai.
For a recreational flyer, charges are AED 120 per year to obtain the permit.
However, unlike the GCAA, the first step to get your drone registered with Dubai Civil Aviation Authority is that they require you to obtain an RPAS Training Certificate before registering the drone. There are a few institutes that offer this certificate however we highly recommend ‘Sanad Academy’ on Dubai – Al Ain Road to obtain your certificate.
If you’re decent at flying, you can go straight for the ‘Hobbyist Certification’ by Sanad Academy which costs AED 368. Upon registration, you’re given all the course materials for the evaluation, so you have enough time and resources before the big day. Evaluation involves an MCQ of Theory Assessment, Simulation Testing and finally the actual flight test. It’s actually very easy and you just need to be confident in whatever the instructor asks you to do. He’ll make you fly in a few directions, some complex maneuvers and that’s about it. You’ll have your training certificate printed and ready to go.
The certification is just a one-time thing. Subsequently, whenever you need to renew your DCAA permit after a year, you just upload the same certificate and pay the AED 120 DCAA Fees and that’s about it.
Now optionally if you want to undergo a crash course to teach you the basics of flying your drone, Sanad Academy offers a ‘Basic Bootcamp’ course for AED 945/- which will you a gist of everything in about 3 hours. This includes a theoretical session, simulator practice, actual flight training, and even the actual pilot certification as well.
As a bonus, you also get 5 additional sessions to use their facility to practice your flying skills.
Once you have the training certificate, you need to go to this link to begin the DCAA Hobbyist registration process:
You will need to have the following things ready –
- Emirates ID Copy of the Pilot
- Passport Size Photo
- Photos of the drone showing the serial number
- Drone Details and Specifications
- Copy of Training Certificate obtained from Sanad Academy
Upload all the documents and in 48 hours. You will have your DCAA Permit to fly. And that’s it. With both these permits from GCAA and DCAA, you are all set to fly your brand new drone.
Remember, there are various rules and regulations that you need to follow while flying the drone and this is applicable across the country and not just a particular emirate.
Drone (Hobbyist) Rules and Regulations in the UAE
- Not fly the drone except for personal and pleasure use
- Not fly the drone unless registered under the General Civil Aviation Authority and Dubai Civil Aviation Authority
- Not fly the drone beyond visual line of sight and more than 400 feet above ground level.
- Not fly the drone near buildings, residential neighbourhoods, public gatherings and public or private properties
- Not fly the drone with any kind of projection/dropping equipment or frequencies recording and laser
- Not fly the drone carelessly or recklessly endangering the safety of others or properties
- Not fly the drone at night
- Not violate the UAE Civil Aviation Law or regulations as published on the GCAA and DCAA Websites
- Minimum Drone Pilot Age: 16 Years Old for drone less than 25 Kgs. Above 25 kgs drone pilot must be over the age of 21 Years.
- Only Fly the drone within the UAE allowed flying zones
- Respect the country’s privacy laws
- Stay clear of all airports and government buildings
The fine for not adhering to the rules and regulations of the country can vary anything between AED 2000 to AED 20,000 depending on the nature of violation such as flying in unauthorized areas. Serious safety or security violations can even lead to possible prosecution hence it is important you brief yourself with all the guidelines mentioned in this article.
As mentioned earlier, download the ‘UAE Drone Hub’ app which will show you all the places you can fly the drone.
Flying a drone can be a lot of fun if you follow the rules. You can click some stellar shots because drones at the end of the day is a wonderful piece of technology when used in the right way. I’ve been flying my DJI Mavic Air for over two years now and it is by far my most favorite gadget that I have ever owned.