Are you planning to travel abroad with your drone? Read our handy guide to help you on your travels so you can spend less time worrying, and more time flying.
Choosing where to go
The first step is to do some research on the country where you're travelling with your drone to find out about their drone laws.
Depending on whether you're flying for fun or commercially, some countries may require you to register your drone beforehand or obtain special permissions or certificates to fly.
Each country has different rules on drone use, which may not be immediately obvious. You can find a comprehensive list of drone laws by country here. It's well worth checking before you go so that you don't fall foul of any local laws or procedures.
In Italy, for example, you must have a registration plate for your drone, shown on the drone and with the operator on the ground. Furthermore, as of July 2016, all drones that allow the transmission of data in real-time must also be equipped with an Electronic Identification Device. In Portugal they don't distinguish between recreational and commercial drone pilots, so anyone wanting to take drone photography or footage in Portugal, must have permission from the National Aeronautical Authority.
As each country has rights to manage the use of low airspace by drones, each nation's official aviation authority / administrator will provide any further information you might need on this, plus specific restrictions on permitted height and proximity to property.
In our experience, if rules are unclear or you're still not sure, contact the British Embassy or consulate within the country you're visiting, who should be able to help.
Equally, you need to know where not to travel with your drone. There are currently 18 countries where the use of drones is strictly prohibited, where you may be landed with a hefty fine or confiscation of your drone:
Packing right will make sure your drone and all its parts are kept safe; it will also save you a lot of time and effort when you get to airport security.
It is recommended that you pack the drone body (switched off, with batteries detached), accessories and controller in your checked luggage, with the more ‘delicate’ items such as batteries, memory cards and cameras / sensors packed into your hand luggage. With this said, some airlines may require you to pack the drone itself into your hand luggage, so always check the airline drone rules beforehand as they can vary.
Make sure to always follow the airline rules for travelling with drone batteries. Most drones use Lithium Polymer (LiPo) batteries, which will need to be stored safely, such as in a special LiPo bag within your hand luggage.
The standard limit per passenger is two batteries over 100 watt hours (Wh), with generally no limit for most batteries under 100 watt hours. Before packing batteries, ensure that you reduce the charge to 30% at most, to minimise fire risks.
When you arrive to your destination ready to fly, the last thing you want is a broken propeller stopping you. So be sure to pack a drone repair kit, complete with spare propellers.
It is always advised to insure yourself and your most treasured belongings before travelling, the same goes for your drone. Moonrock Drone Insurance are a specialist drone insurance company, specifically designed for drone pilots. In many countries, it is mandatory to have drone insurance.
Finally, keep in mind that not everyone is used to seeing a buzzing drone flying around, so be mindful of where you fly. Always ensure you have permission to fly in the area, and avoid flying over crowded or restricted areas such as airports, prisons, hospitals, arenas or festivals. If in doubt, use common sense. If it seems potentially dangerous to fly your drone somewhere, it's not worth the risk.
People are naturally curious, so expect to be asked lots of questions. Just remember to be polite and courteous. You have a unique opportunity to share your passion and teach someone new about the wonder of drones!
Above all else, the most important thing is to stay within the rules.... and have fun!