travel internationally drone

Ask Drone Girl: how do I legally travel internationally with my drone?

Next up in our “Ask Drone Girl” series is about how to travel internationally with a drone. If you have a question for Drone Girl, contact her here.

I have a DJI Mavic Pro and love it, and I’m travelling to 8 countries in Central Asia and wanted to bring it. I have to ship it through Uzbekistan because they aren’t legal, and need to register it in Dubai and Turkey. If I am transporting the drone and not flying, do you think I’d get in trouble for having one?

Also, I might just bring a Spark because it’s still pretty good and under the 250g weight limit most of the countries have for hobby drones (without a battery) meaning I don’t need to register.

I’m already jealous of your vacation plans. Throw a Mavic in there, and your vacation photos are going to be incredible!

Travelling internationally with a drone can be really tricky. I’ve heard everything from drones being confiscated, to travelers being asked to leave their drone at customs and being told they could pick it up at the end of their trip.
Just ask filmmaker Chafic Saad, who arrived at the customs department in Bali, which would not let them bring a drone through despite what they though was the proper paperwork.
“They thought I was going to sell it,” he said. “I had to put down a deposit of $2,000 US dollars and it would not have been returned if I didn’t bring the money back. That was scary.”
UAV Coach has a really excellent master list of drone laws by country. There you can find out if you need to register, if you need a license, and if you can even bring that drone into the country. Though, sometimes it seems laws change on an almost-daily basis, so I would also check with each country’s aviation regulatory agency’s website as well.

Also, it’s often not just laws around bringing the drone into the country that could get you in trouble. Some countries have laws around the value of possessions you bring into that country, and others have strict privacy laws. In the United Arab Emirates, there are laws against posting images of other people to social networks. Yes, that includes people shot from a drone — no matter how tiny they are in the image.
It sounds like you’re doing it right. Ship your drone to your next destination if the country you’re about to visit makes drones illegal. And keep in mind that simply having a drone in your possession (even if you aren’t flying it!) can be illegal in some countries, like Uzbekistan.
Happy flying, and happy travelling!

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