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Can You Fly a Drone in Portugal

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If you’re thinking of traveling to Portugal with your drone, you need to know the rules and guidelines before you leave home. This article will review the drone rules in Portugal, letting you know where, when, and how high you can fly.

Portugal’s drone laws are quite liberal. However, compared to the United States, they may seem a bit restrictive.

You can easily bring your drone to Portugal and fly it once you’re there. If your drone is in the Open Category, you only need to register it if you plan to take photos and videos, or if you are operating it commercially. Drone airspace rules are similar to those of the US and the rest of the EU.

You can fly a drone in the “Open” category if you have:

  • One of the following class identification labels: 0, 1, 2, 3, or 4.
  • The drone was bought before January 20, 2023, and has no class identification label.
  • The drone’s maximum take-off weight is less than 25kg (55 lbs).
  • The drone is kept safe from the people by the remote pilot.
  • If the drone is less than 250g (0.55 lbs) or has a class identification tag, it cannot be operated over people. To find out where your drone can fly, please refer to the subcategories A1, A2, or A3.
  • Remote pilots will keep a visual line-of-sight (VLOS), or they will be assisted by a UA observer.
  • Remote pilots will not fly the drone beyond 120m (400ft).
  • The drone won’t carry dangerous goods or drop material.

Insurance laws in Portugal #

Although it is not required to have insurance, the National Civil Aviation Authority recommends operators purchase civil liability insurance to protect against any potential damage.

How to legally capture drone photos and videos in Portugal #

Portugal prohibits the taking of photos and videos without the permission of the National Aeronautical Authority.

You must first create an account on their website. After completing the form, you will receive an email with an attached form. To sign the form, you must agree to it and then send it off. 

Once your account is confirmed and received, you will be able to access it. You can then register pilots and aircraft. 

You can visit the AAN website here to complete the permit process. It’s recommended to submit the form at least 10 days before the expected flight date.

Rules for drone weight and proximity to people and VLOS  #

Here’s an overview of the rules for drones in Portugal:

  • Drone operators must be able to see the drone at all times. This is similar to the Visual Line of Sight rule in the United States.
  • All manned aircraft have the right of way above the unmanned drones. 
  • Drones less than 0.25kg can be flown over people and should not be flown over 30m above ground level.
  • Any drone that is heavier than this should not be flown below any group of 12 people. 
  • You must apply for permission from the National Civil Aviation Authority if you wish to fly a drone that is heavier than 25kg or beyond your line of sight.  

Drone airspace rules in Portugal #

Drones are not allowed to fly in or around airports, aerodromes, military-controlled zones, prisons, and security services. This includes educational or rehabilitation areas that may be connected or associated with prisons. 

It is also against the rules to fly drones within most national parks, but an operator can apply for special permission if they fill out certain forms. 

Traveling to Portugal with your drone #

If possible, all drones should be carried in your hand luggage. You’ll want to make sure that your most valuable possessions are kept near you. 

Theft and loss of luggage are common problems when traveling internationally, especially if you have multiple connections. Otherwise, you should ship your drone with DHL, FedEx, or UPS if it is more than $1,000 USD. Also, insure it fully.Drone batteries should not be packed in checked baggage. Drone batteries must be packed in medium-sized LiPo battery bags. They should then be brought on board the plane in your carry-on bag. 

Airlines consider lithium-ion batteries “dangerous goods.” The rules regarding these batteries on planes are EXTREMELY strict because of multiple instances of them setting themselves ablaze.

If you fail to pack lithium-ion batteries in a bag like the one below, the airline can seize them and fine you or deny you boarding, which means if you do make it to Portugal with your drone, you’ll have no way to fly it.

Commercial and hobby permits in Portugal #

If your drone is less than 250g and you cannot fly at speeds greater than 90 km/h (56 miles), a drone permit will not be required for hobbyists.

Commercial drone use in Portugal requires a permit. If you’re interested in one, contact the aviation authority in Portugal.

Here’s the link to applying for a permit (this is the same process as applying to take videos and photos above.

Important things to remember when flying drones in Portugal:    #

  • Don’t fly your drone above people or large crowds.
  • Fly your drone no higher than 120 meters. Drones weighing less than 250 grams can fly up to 30 meters.
  • Your drone must be flown within visual line-of-sight at all times.
  • Respect others’ privacy while flying your drone.
  • Don’t fly your drone above embassies or nature reserves, prisons and rescue services, schools, security agencies, military bases, government buildings.
  • Don’t fly your drone within 2.5km of airports or 1 km from helipads.
  • Only fly in daylight hours. Your drone can be flown 25 minutes before sunrise or 25 minutes after sunset.
  • Request permission to take photo and video.
  • Fly safe!

Best Places to Fly Drones In Portugal #

Algarve #

Algarve should definitely be your first stop. It is located in the Faro region, which is the southernmost part of Portugal.

It is renowned for its number of beautiful beaches, clear water, and lush green landscapes here. A great feature of the Algarve is the numerous caves and cliff edges that can be found along the coastline.

Remember to get clearance from the National Aeronautical Authority! These features will add a unique element to any drone shots you take. The sun shining down on the water will make your content even more beautiful.     

Coimbra  #

The city of Coimbra is next. The city is located beside the Mondego river, and as previously mentioned, bodies of water make for great drone shots. 

It was the capital of Portugal between 1121 and 1225, and it was also occupied briefly by the Romans. Drone operators will love the fact that there are many historic and old buildings, as well as numerous aqueducts. 

It is home to a large cultural diversity. The University of Coimbra was built in 1290 and is still standing today. Although it has been moved a few times, the university is still operational. It’s another historic and beautiful building that you can capture with your drone. 

The river, which reflects the sun off the water, is where you will get the best shots.     


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