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Can You Fly a Drone in Puerto Rico?

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Who wouldn’t want to visit Puerto Rico, a Caribbean island with tropical rainforests, waterfalls, mountains, and beaches?

As you venture closer to San Juan, you’ll find casinos, beach bars, and hotels galore, and the architecture with its colonial style and bright colors also attracts attention.

Can you fly a drone in Puerto Rico?

You’re permitted to operate a drone in Puerto Rico if you have a valid drone license and registration (as required). You must also follow FAA guidelines, such as yielding to manned aircraft and flying within 400 feet from the ground.

This guide to using drones in Puerto Rico will elaborate further on taking a drone here, flying it, and what the rules are.

Make sure you keep reading before your trip to Puerto Rico!

Bringing a drone to Puerto Rico #

Puerto Rico is a part of the United States, so if you already live in the country, you shouldn’t find it difficult to transport a drone to the tropical island.

Those visiting Puerto Rico from other countries will have to take more precautions.

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration, better known as the TSA, has several rules about drone transport on airplanes.

For starters, when bringing your drone into Puerto Rico, you must pack it in carry-on luggage.

We’d recommend doing that anyway, as you can keep your drone by your side so it can’t be stolen or damaged during the flight.

Make sure you have a bag designed to carry drones, as packing a UAV in any ol’ suitcase could lead to harm if it jostles around too much.

Further, check your airline’s website or contact them by phone or email to inquire about the size restrictions for carry-on luggage.

Do this before buying a drone bag so your carry-on doesn’t end up being too big!

The TSA also requires you to carry LiPo batteries as a carry-on. If your drone bag has a separate compartment for stashing batteries, that’s perfect.

However, if it doesn’t, you’ll have to purchase another bag that meets the carry-on size requirements of your airline.

Can you fly a drone in Puerto Rico? #

Puerto Rico, being a part of the US, follows the FAA’s guidelines. Under those guidelines, you’re permitted to use a drone in Puerto Rico if you follow drone laws.

The FAA prohibits drone use in specific parts of Puerto Rico, so let’s take a closer look now.

Stadiums #

Approximately one hour before an event or game and one hour afterward, your drone cannot venture closer to a stadium in Puerto Rico than 5 kilometers.

Military installations #

The standard distance for military installations is 5 nautical miles. The primary Army installation in Puerto Rico is Fort Buchanan Army Base, but others include:

  • Camp Santiago Army Base, Salinas
  • Fort Allen Army Base, Juana Diaz
  • San Juan Army National Guard, Isla Verde

Airports and heliports #

The same distance of 5 nautical miles applies to heliports and airports throughout Puerto Rico. Your drone must take heed of the following:

  • San Juan Airport
  • Mercedita International Airport
  • Aguadilla Airport
  • Luis Ribas Dominicci Airport (sometimes called the Aeropuerto de Isla Grande)

National parks #

The National Park Service prohibits drone use across United States national parks. While some parks allow drones, the majority don’t, including Puerto Rico’s national park, San Juan National Historic Site.

The 5 best places to fly a drone in Puerto Rico #

Now that you’re aware of where you cannot fly a drone in Puerto Rico, what about the places where you can?

Let’s go over 5 great locales across the island.

» MORE: Can You Fly a Drone in El Yunque?

1. Mar Chiquita #

As one of the most famous natural pools in Puerto Rico, it only makes sense to start our list with Mar Chiquita.

The pool features an opening shaped like a half-moon that developed after limestone outcroppings paved the way.

The Atlantic Ocean’s beauteous blue waters flow through, creating a tranquil, welcoming environment for sunbathing and swimming.

Since it’s a well-known part of Puerto Rico, plan to visit Mar Chiquita during off-hours to ensure the place isn’t overcrowded.

Be aware that this natural pool lacks shade, so wear sunscreen and consider bringing some protective equipment to prevent your drone from overheating.

» MORE: Can You Bring a Drone to the Dominican Republic?

2. Balneario Punta Salinas #

You have to visit the beaches if you’re planning a trip to Puerto Rico, even if you’re there on business.

Balneario Punta Salinas is a great one to add to your list. The dark sand, blue waters, and cliffside environments that surround the area make for an alluring natural sight.

Balneario Punta Salinas also has concession stands, basketball hoops, and lifeguards on duty, so keep all that in mind when deciding where to pilot your drone here.

3. Mirador Gavillan #

How about some greenery while you’re in Puerto Rico? Mirador Gavillan is an appealing park with waving palms, a children’s play area, and elevated views if you’re willing to do a bit of climbing.

From some spots in the park, you can witness nearby San Juan, Guaynabo, Catano, Bayamon, Toa Alta, and Toa Boja.

4. Isla de Cabras #

Translating to “Goat Island,” the Isla de Cabras is a small inlet near San Juan Bay. Here, you can see a firing range (that local police use), a recreational park, and El Canuelo or Fortin San Juan de la Cruz.

We recommend making a beeline for the park, as you won’t be able to use your drone for much else on this inlet.

5. Playa Parchola #

In Toa Baja, Playa Parchola is an ultra-popular beach with grass, trees aplenty, cliffsides, clear sands, and a perfect rolling ocean.

Take your drone over the beach and fly slowly to capture the extent of its majesty!

Drone laws in Puerto Rico #

Before you begin planning your drone itinerary in Puerto Rico, make sure you brush up on these rules for drone usage on the island.

You must have a valid drone license #

The FAA requires a valid, current drone license when operating a UAV anywhere in the US, including Puerto Rico. You can only obtain a license through the FAA by passing an exam.

Hobby pilots must take The Recreational UAS Safety Test, also known as TRUST. This short, free, online exam is the only way to receive a TRUST certificate, which doesn’t expire.

Commercial pilots will take the Part 107 exam to receive a Remote Pilot Certificate upon passing. The Part 107 exam is a long, paid, in-person test with a required passing score of 70 percent.

The Remote Pilot Certificate is valid for two years from when the FAA administers it. You can take a free online test to renew your license.

Register your drone #

Drones weighing over 0.55 pounds must have an active registration according to the FAA. Your drone registration is valid for three years.

You must keep your drone within your line of sight #

How far you can naturally see your drone is referred to as its line of sight. The FAA requires you to maintain VLOS on your drone or have someone with you who can do it for you.

You cannot use a drone over a moving vehicle #

The Operations over Moving Vehicles law prohibits drones from launching, flying, or landing on a moving vehicle under any circumstances.

You can fly your drone around a parked vehicle if you have permission from everyone in the vehicle.

You cannot fly your drone over people #

The FAA’s Operations over People law limits drone operations over crowds. Drones that weigh under 0.55 pounds can fly over people, but heavier drones cannot without permission.

Give manned aircraft the right of way #

If your drone stays within the required height limit when flying in Puerto Rico, you shouldn’t encounter a manned aircraft.

Should it ever happen, the manned aircraft has the right of way, not you.

Do not operate your drone at night #

The FAA allows drones to fly at night in limited circumstances, but only with prior approval and drone lighting.

If you have neither, only fly your drone between sunrise and sunset.

Do not exceed 55 pounds #

A drone cannot fly in Puerto Rico that’s more than 55 pounds. That includes its weight out of the box or with the addition of a payload.

Puerto Rico is a magical place to visit, and better yet, you don’t even have to leave the US to do it.

The FAA makes the drone laws here, which means you can fly in most places throughout Puerto Rico except over sensitive infrastructure, national parks, airports, and other restricted airspace.

Always check your drone map before launching to ensure you’re flying in Class G airspace. Have fun out there!


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