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Can You Fly a Drone in Maldives?

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The Republic of Maldives is a South Asian archipelagic state beloved for its beaches, art, and culture.

You might have long since planned a getaway to the Maldives, and now you’re curious if you can bring your drone.

Can you fly a drone in the Maldives?

Commercial and recreational pilots can fly a drone in Maldives. However, you must have a permit from the Maldives Civil Aviation Authority and permission from the Maldives National Defense Force before you launch.

In this article, we’ll delve deeper into whether you can operate a drone in Maldives, how to get the permissions and permits you need, and the drone rules in this part of the world.

Make sure you read the great info ahead before your big vacation!

Can you fly a drone in Maldives? #

The Maldives Civil Aviation Authority establishes the rules for drone usage in this country.

According to the MCAA, pilots can bring drones (or purchase them) to Maldives and use them for recreational or commercial purposes.

The MCAA has its own set of rules and requirements for pilots to follow, but we’ll discuss those later.

Instead, let’s talk about two requirements that warrant mentioning now. First, the MCAA requires all drone pilots to have a permit.

Second, the Maldives National Defense Force mandates that pilots go through them to gain approval before taking to the skies.

Obtaining the required permissions to use a drone in Maldives #

If a trip to Maldives has long since been on your bucket list, we recommend getting the drone approval process underway early.

If you don’t submit your applications and paperwork at least a month ahead of your planned vacation (or business trip), you might not have enough time to get the necessary approvals.

Without the appropriate permission and permitting, using your drone in Maldives is illegal.

Keeping that in mind, here’s all the info you need to ensure you can enjoy a safe, legal drone flight in beautiful Maldives.

MNDF permission #

The MNDF protects the security of Maldives and requires all drone pilots to request a flight approval through them.

You can download and print the application form here.

The form requires your full name, address, phone number, email address, and ID card number.

You also have to share detailed information about your drone flight, including when you’ll fly, where, why, the starting and finishing times, and your max altitude.

MCAA permit #

When you finish sending in the MNDF application form, wait at least three to four weeks for approval. Only when the MNDF approves you should you contact the MCAA about your permit.

You’ll have to complete the Application for Permit to Operate Model Aircrafts, Kites, Unmanned Balloons, Parasails & Gyrogliders. You can download the form here.

The form requires information such as your full name, ID card or passport info, birthdate, nationality, email address, phone number, home address, and organization or company as applicable.

Once again, you have to share pertinent flight details, including your max altitude, flight start times and end times, location coordinates in degrees, and the purpose of the flight.

Attach a flight path map separately.

The form also asks about your drone, including its make and model, size, and serial or registration number. Attach a copy of your MNDF permission and then send in your application form.

Drone rules and regulations for flying in Maldives #

You’ve got your permissions and you’re officially bound for Maldives! While it’s a very exciting time, before you head off, you should be aware of the MCAA’s drone flight rules.

If you’re used to operating your drone under the FAA’s guidelines, these rules shouldn’t look all that different to you.

That said, remember that the MCAA has jurisdiction in Maldives not the FAA, so always defer to the former.

» MORE: Can You Bring a Drone to Vietnam?

No drones in hotels #

According to Travel Trade Maldives[1], the country attracted 1.6 million visitors. With so many tourists coming from all over the world to visit, drones in hotels have become a frequent occurrence.

Drones in and around hotels can be problematic.

Hotels feature enclosed quarters. Flying a drone indoors in such close conditions increases the risk of property damage.

Whether you only scuff a wall or break a television with your drone, none of that property belongs to you, and it costs the hotel to replace it.

Well, unless you’re on the hook for a replacement. That’s no way to spend a vacation or business trip! 

Using your drone outside on a hotel balcony risks invading the privacy of other hotel guests. You could also lose control of your drone, sending it crashing to the ground below.

Guests could complain about the noise levels of drones too. If drones become a frequent enough nuisance, that could cost the hotel business.

For all these reasons and more, many hotels across Maldives have cracked down on drone usage in hotels. You might not be allowed to stay in a hotel if you’ll bring your drone with you.

Before booking a hotel, we recommend contacting them by phone or email and asking about their drone policy.

Use your drone app #

Much of the Maldives is comprised of seaplane ports and islands. That makes it very tricky to find a designated area where you can safely and legally use your drone.

Always use a drone app to determine restricted and warning airspace. Avoid those areas, especially no-fly zones.

Avoid drone use near airports #

Wherever you happen to see aircraft (besides unmanned aircraft) in Maldives, your drone cannot go. That includes the standard locales like the abovementioned seaports and airports. 

Do not use your drone around sensitive areas #

Military and government facilities and other sensitive areas prohibit drones for the protection of secure information in Maldives.

We recommend using your drone map to determine the location of these areas and then planning a flight path a good distance away.

» MORE: Can You Bring a Drone to Thailand?  

No flying over people #

For the peace and protection of its people, MCAA outlaws drones from flying over people. Staying a respectable distance from crowds when operating your drone will ensure you never get close enough to risk it.

Only use your drone in good weather #

The balmy temperatures of Maldives make this a premier travel destination for many, but the country gets its fair share of rain like any other.

On those less-than-clear days, as much as you might itch to take out your drone, refrain. The MCAA makes it clear that pilots should only operate drones in clear weather.

Besides rain, stay indoors during strong winds and fog.

Maintain an altitude of 400 feet max #

From the ground up, drones in Maldives can only flight 400 feet into the sky. Limit your altitude during your trip.

Only use your drone during daylight hours #

When visiting a beautiful locale like Maldives, you can very quickly create a jam-packed itinerary.

Make sure you prioritize flying your drone only between sunrise and sunset, as it’s illegal outside of those hours.

» MORE: Can You Bring a Drone to the Philippines? 

Keep your drone in your visual line of sight #

Can’t see your drone anymore? The MCAA requires pilots to always keep a visual line of sight on their UAVs when operating them.

Use your drone’s return to home feature before it goes too far out of range.

You can also fly with an observer if it’s easier for them to keep tabs on your drone’s location.  

Capturing the enchanting beauty of the Maldives through the lens of your drone camera is doable, as the country allows pilots to fly UAVs.

However, it’s a little more complicated than only following the country’s drone regulations (although you have to do that too).

Maldives law require pilots to first go through the MNDF for written permission. Then you can fill out an application with the MCAA for a permit.

Although it’s a few more hoops to jump through, for the opportunity to see the Maldives from new heights, we’d say it’s worth it!

References:1. Travel Trade Maldives (link)


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