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Can You Fly a Drone in Istanbul?

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The Turkish city of Istanbul has a rich cultural heritage, with such sights as the Grand Bazaar, the Blue Mosque, and the Hagia Sophia at the top of most people’s must-see lists.

You’ve packed your bags for a trip to Istanbul, but you’re not sure whether you can use your drone here.

Can you fly a drone in Istanbul?

You can fly a drone in Istanbul, with drones very popular in Turkey. However, you must follow basic flight rules, such as limiting the weight and altitude of your drone and avoiding flying over people.

Before you jet off to Istanbul for your trip, make sure you read this article.

The information we have for you ahead will help you plan a safe, enjoyable trip, so you won’t want to miss it!

What federal agency regulates drone flights in Turkey? #

Broadening your horizons through travel sure is fun, but you must know the governing authority that regulates drone use in the country you’re visiting, ideally ahead of your trip.

This way, you can research that agency and learn its rules.

In the case of Turkey, it’s the Turkish Directorate General of Civil Aviation or DGCA.

You can check out the Turkish DGCA website here. You’ll see that the site originally appears in Turkish, but you can toggle to an English option without using a third-party translating service on your Internet browser.

According to its website, the Turkish DGCA “lays down the rules and procedures about importation, sale, registration, airworthiness, air traffic services and UAS operations of civil Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) systems that will be operated or used in Turkish air space within the framework of provisions of the Unmanned Aircraft System Instruction (SHT-ITA) enacted based on the Turkish Civil Aviation Law no. 2920 and dated 14/10/1982 as well as the Law on Organization and Duties of the General Directorate of Civil Aviation no. 5431 dated 10/11/2005.”

Can you fly a drone in Istanbul? #

Okay, so now let’s set aside some time to answer your question – can you use your drone in Istanbul?

Indeed, you can! We already discussed the ins and outs of bringing a drone to Turkey on our blog. If you can fly into Turkey with a drone in tow, you can bring one into Istanbul.

» MORE: Can I Bring a Drone to Turkey?

Drones in Turkey have increased over the years. A 2020 article published in Daily Sabah[1] reports that, in the year prior, 52,120 Turkish people obtained their drone piloting licenses, with 34,150 people flying in all.

If you stressed that you’d be a lone ranger flying your drone in Istanbul, you’ll clearly find the opposite is true!

You’ll see fellow drone pilots everywhere (well, okay, maybe not everywhere, as Istanbul does have restricted airspace), which will indicate safe areas to fly.

Also, the sense of camaraderie will help you banish any homesickness, as you’ll almost feel like you’re right at home with so many drones around.

What are the rules for flying a drone in Istanbul? #

For the rest of this article, let’s acquaint you with the rules about flying a drone in Istanbul to ensure you can have a blast on your trip (yes, even if you have to work!)

You’ll probably have to register your drone #

In Turkey, all commercial pilots must have active drone registration. Hobbyist pilots only have to register a drone that weighs over 4 kilograms or 8.81 pounds.

To register your drone, you’ll need to include an application letter with a serial number and other manufacturing details about your drone. You’ll also need a written declaration and a certificate of conformity.

Get ready to pay, as you can’t register your drone for free in Turkey.

When you register your drone in Turkey, you’ll receive a Unique Identification Number, aka a UIN. Whenever you have to reach out to the Turkish DGCA, you’ll need your UIN handy, so make sure you keep it.

All drone operators in the country have their own respective UINs. If you don’t have yours or lost yours, you could receive a fine of 25,000 Turkish lire. That’s a fine of approximately $1,329.23 USD.

Do not fly higher than 100 meters #

As we alluded to in the intro, Turkey restricts drone height like in many other countries. When flying in Istanbul and elsewhere in the country, do not exceed 100 meters or 328.1 feet.

If you see other drone pilots flying lower than you, that clearly signifies that you’re about to violate the altitude rules.

You must have approval for commercial flights #

Remember that UIN we mentioned? As a commercial drone pilot in Istanbul, you’ll need it handy quite frequently.

Before any flight, you’re required to contact the Turkish DGCA and request flight permissions, which will require you to impart your UIN information. We can’t stress enough not to lose or misplace this valuable identifier!

Don’t fly in restricted airspace #

Throughout Turkey, restricted airspace abounds. This includes the standard fare like military airspace, sensitive buildings such as government offices, and other critical infrastructure.

You’re forbidden from using your drone in these areas, especially your drone camera.

We recommend downloading a drone mapping app if you don’t already have one handy on your phone.

You’ll use the map often to determine which areas you should fly in. Don’t necessarily use the presence of other drones as justification to stay somewhere, as those pilots could willingly or unwillingly be breaking the law.

Only use your drone during daylight hours #

Once the sun is up and until it sets, that’s your dominion for drone flight. Enjoy that time, but don’t stretch it out too early in the morning or too late after sunset.

You’re certainly not allowed to fly your drone in Istanbul (or greater Turkey) at night.

Do not fly your drone in inclement weather #

Turkey doesn’t necessarily have the most glamorous weather. It gets cold there, and long, rainy stretches can persist.

You need to know this when visiting Istanbul not only for trip-planning purposes and drone flight purposes. Turkey forbids drones from flying in inclement weather, including rain, snow, hail, fog, mist, and strong winds.

You should be glad this rule exists, as it prevents you from putting your drone at risk. Even a little precipitation can break some drones for good, which would be a real downer.

Keep your distance from airports #

In many countries, you can use your drone within a permitted distance of airports. In Turkey, you can’t use your drone in any areas where you see aircraft, including but not limited to airports.

A good drone map should mark airports as restricted airspace. If you have a DJI drone, your UAV won’t even fly over airports, so that’s a problem solved!

Drones from any other manufacturer will not ground you in restricted airspace, so it’s up to you to use your smarts and discretion.

Avoid large crowds when using your drone #

Ideally, Turkish law wants you to use your drone only in areas below you that are free and open. If you see a crowded area, then no matter what has attracted the crowd, know that you cannot operate your drone in that airspace.

You’re supposed to respect the privacy of others when using a drone in Istanbul. Don’t fly your drone in such a way that you’re annoying other people, invading their privacy, or harassing them with your UAV.  

Conclusion  #

Istanbul embraces drones as part of its culture, as the number of drone users has steadily risen in recent years.

You’re welcome to fly a drone in Turkey if you properly register the drone first and obtain the required flight permissions before you launch.

Many of the drone rules that apply in Turkey don’t differ that much from the rules in the United States.

That is, don’t surpass altitude limits, don’t use your drone in crowds, respect the privacy of others, stay back from manned aircraft and critical infrastructure, and only fly your drone in clear weather and during daylight hours.

Istanbul is calling your name. When you answer the call, bring your drone! You’ll surely enjoy it.

References:1. Daily Sabah (link)


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