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Can I Bring a Drone from Dubai to India?

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You never leave home without your drone, but in your experience, you’ve sometimes hit snags when transporting it from one country to another.

You’re currently in Dubai and interested in bringing your drone from there to India.

Can I bring a drone from Dubai to India?

You cannot bring a drone from Dubai to India due to updates to India’s importation policy. Only R&D and military can take drones into the country.

This guide will provide lots of handy information so you can logistically determine how to travel with a drone.

Whether you live in Dubai and wish to expand your horizons or you travel a lot, you can’t miss this article!

Can you bring a drone from Dubai to India? #

The rules for importing drones to India from Dubai or elsewhere on the globe were always tough to get by. You either needed permission or had to transport a drone weighing 250 grams.

 However, in February 2022, India revised its importation policy[1] to make it even more difficult.

The Indian Trade Classification (Harmonised System) of Import Items, 2022, Chapter 88 of Schedule 1 (Import Policy) made changes to Policy Condition No. 03.

The old policy read as follows:

“Import of Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS)/Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAVs)/Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPAs)/drones is ‘Restricted’ requiring prior clearance of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and import license from DGFT. Further, import of Civil Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) is governed as per the Guidelines issued by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation vide F.No.05-13/2014-AED Vol. IV dated 27th August, 2018.

However, Nano category (less than or equal to 250 grams) and operating below 50ft/15 meters above ground level requires Equipment Type Approval (ETA) from WPC Wing, Department of Telecommunications for operating in de-licensed frequency band(s) and does not require import clearance of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) or import license from DGFT.”

The revised Policy Condition No. 03 is:

“1. Import of drones in Completely-Built-Up (CBU), Semi-knocked-down (SKD) or Completely-Knocked-down (CKD) form is Prohibited, with following excpetions: –

  1. Import of drones by Government entities, educational institutions recognized by central or state government, government recognized R&D entities and drone manufacturers for R&D purpose shall be allowed in CBU, SKD or CKD form subject to import authorisation issued by DGFT in consultation with concerned line ministries.
  2. Import of drones for defence & security purposes shall be allowed in CBU, SKD or CKD form subject to import authorisation issued by DGFT in consultation with concerned line ministries.
  1. Import of drone components shall be ‘Free.’”

How to get a drone into India from Dubai (or elsewhere) #

Okay, so basically, unless you’re using a drone for R&D or government purposes, you can’t bring it into India from Dubai or anywhere else. That leaves commercial and recreational pilots in a tough spot.

So what do you do? You can’t bring the drone with you, as the airline agent will check for it. As soon as they see it, you will not be allowed to take your drone on the plane.

Really then, your only option is to purchase a drone once you arrive in India.

However, if you do, you might not legally be allowed to bring it back with you, so make sure you buy a cheap one you won’t mind parting with at the end of your trip to India.

We must also make you aware that recreational pilots can’t operate a UAV in India unless they’re citizens. Commercial pilots must obtain a Unique Identification Number through DGCA.

Tips for traveling with a drone #

You can’t bring a drone from Dubai to India, but you can travel between other countries with a UAV. Before you do, check out this collection of tips to make traveling less stressful!

Have your paperwork ready #

You need more than a passport and airline tickets when traveling cross-country with a drone. You must also be ready to produce your drone paperwork.

What kind of paperwork do you need? You should have a valid drone license from the licensing entity where you call home (such as the FAA in the United States or DGCA in India).

You might also need to obtain a license in the country you’re traveling to if you hope to fly a drone. If you already procured that license, carry it with you.

It’s always wise to register your drone, as it’s often a requirement in many countries.

You might need to register the drone in the country you’ll travel to, but you should bring the drone registration paperwork from your home country too.

Carry your drone insurance paperwork with you and any written permission from a government organization or aviation authority.

In most cases, copies of these important documents should suffice so you don’t risk losing the originals.

Get permission early #

If you need permission to use a drone in a country outside of your own, don’t wait a week before you travel. This process can be painstakingly slow in some cases, requiring weeks or months.

As soon as you know you’re interested in expanding your traveling horizons with your drone, you should apply for registration, ask for permission, or cut through whatever red tape you must to operate your UAV.

You’ll have a lot less stress as you get your trip underway, allowing it to transpire smoothly.

Buy a drone travel bag #

There’s no excuse for wrapping up a drone in a few layers of t-shirts and tucking it into a suitcase when drone travel bags exist.

We recommended some of the top bags here, so if you don’t already have a drone travel bag, please check out that post.

A travel bag is designed for drones with a compartment that will hold your drone in one place. Your drone will be ready to fly once you arrive and unpack.

» MORE: Best Drone Backpacks (And Tips for Traveling with Your Drone)

Carry your drone in checked luggage #

You can never be too careful, even if you transport your UAV in a drone backpack.

It’s not like airline staff has X-ray vision. Once your drone gets through security, the attendants on the plane don’t know that what they’re handling is a drone.

Your poor UAV could end up damaged or broken. If you spent a lot of money on your drone, you’ll be especially upset. Actually, it’s heartbreaking to lose a drone no matter how much or little you spent.

By bringing your drone as a carry-on or checked luggage, you won’t have to worry about anyone mishandling it, as you’ll be the only one to touch it outside of the security check.

However, airlines have size requirements for checked luggage and carry-ons. Look into those requirements before you shop for a new drone bag or backpack.

If your bag is too big, you can’t use it as a carry-on!

Learn the airline’s battery requirements #

How other countries regard lithium-ion batteries varies. Some don’t have any regulations on this type of battery, while others regard lithium products as dangerous goods.

Indeed, lithium can possibly catch fire if exposed to pressurized conditions for too long. The high pressurization rate of a plane cabin could create a recipe for disaster.

Should you be permitted to bring lithium batteries on a plane, we’d recommend traveling with them in your carry-on or checked luggage.

Many drone bags will have pockets or pouches for batteries, so use them.

By the way, you mustn’t transport a drone with batteries on a plane. If the batteries overheated and exploded, your drone would be kaput.

More importantly, leaving the batteries in the drone creates too much risk. 

Rely on a drone app #

Drone apps are your true north when traveling. You can use the app anytime to download real-time map data and review where restricted airspace is.

If a temporary flight restriction goes up where you planned to fly, you’ll know in advance and can plan a different route.

Make sure your app produces maps for countries outside of the US if you’re traveling internationally. You’ll also need a stable internet connection to check map data.

You should strongly consider checking the app in your hotel (or wherever you’re lodging) rather than waiting until you reach your drone flight path.

You might not be able to get a good enough internet signal if you’re in a remote area.

Conclusion  #

You cannot import a drone from Dubai (or elsewhere) to India, as the country revised its importation policy in 2022.

Only R&D and government-used drones can enter India.

Your next best option is to buy a drone when in India if you’re legally allowed to fly there.

References:1. Importation policy (link)


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