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Can You Fly a Drone in Zermatt?

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Zermatt is a municipality in the Valais canton of Switzerland. It includes a mountain resort and is also home of the Matterhorn.

People gather here to hike, climb, ski, and enjoy the ambiance. You’re eager to visit Zermatt to capture its mountainous views with your drone.

Can you fly a drone in Zermatt?

You can use a drone in Zermatt but not near populated areas like the ski resorts nor within three nautical miles of the closest airport. When operating a drone in Switzerland, you must follow the Swiss Federal Office of Civil Aviation and European Union Aviation Safety Agency drone laws.

This guide to operating a drone in Zermatt will provide all the pertinent laws and details so you can plan a safe, legal, enjoyable flight.

You won’t want to miss it!

Getting to Zermatt #

Before you can use a drone in Zermatt, you have to reach Switzerland first. That means getting on a plane and safely transporting your drone.

As you schedule your flight, register your drone if you haven’t already. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency requires you to register your UAV in any European Union country, not necessarily Switzerland.

For example, if you traveled to Italy with your drone within the last year or several and you still have a valid registration there, EASA does not mandate that you register your drone again for your visit to Switzerland.

However, if you live in the United States, Canada, or another non-EU country and have only registered your drone in your country of residence, you must register your drone within a European Union country before your trip.

In your case, registering the drone in Switzerland makes the most sense.

Pack your drone in a special carrying case or bag designed for it so it can’t rustle around and get damaged as you pass through customs and board the plane. Remove the drone’s batteries first.

Speaking of batteries, Europe broadly counts lithium-ion batteries as dangerous goods, which can make boarding a plane with drone batteries difficult. However, not every airline perceives lithium-ion batteries the same way, so check with your airline before your flight.

» MORE: Can You Fly a Drone in Halifax?

Make sure the bag you carry your drone in meets the size requirements to count as a carry-on or checked luggage. This will minimize the risk of damage and theft to your drone.

Can you fly a drone in Zermatt? #

You’ve made it to Switzerland. You unpacked your drone, and it’s thankfully in one piece, so of course, you want to begin flying it immediately. Can you?

The Swiss Federal Office of Civil Aviation permits drone use throughout Switzerland, including Zermatt. However, the municipality has many restrictions depending on which area you visit.

For instance, you cannot operate your drone over the resort village. It’s a crowded environment rife with tourists and Swiss residents, and your drone can pose a danger to the crowd’s wellbeing if you venture too close.

You also cannot fly within three nautical miles of police facilities, military bases, and airports.

Zermatt itself has no airports, but in nearby Sion, Zurich, and Geneva, you’ll find airports and heliports. Take heed!

This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to forego your dreams of taking drone photos or videos of the ski resort or even of the majestic Matterhorn.

You can fly beyond the resort village and still capture these captivating sights!

» MORE: Can You Fly a Drone in Kananaskis?

Switzerland drone laws to know + flight tips #

Flying in Switzerland is not the same as doing so in your native country. That’s why we’re sharing our top drone flight tips and Swiss drone laws so you can fly safely!

Your drone should meet Open category rules #

As Switzerland is part of the European Union, it follows all EASA drone usage rules in addition to FOCA’s rules.

EASA sorts drones into several categories, with the Open category the one that most recreational and commercial drones meet.

Here’s a refresher of what it takes to meet the Open categorization:

  • Your drone weighs no more than 25 kilograms or 55 pounds at takeoff.
  • You bought the drone before January 1st, 2023.
  • The drone has a class identification label of 0 through 4.

A drone flown in the Open category must not drop anything it’s carrying, transport dangerous goods, fly over 120 meters, extend beyond VLOS rules, or operate too close to crowds unless it weighs under 250 grams.

You must get a commercial permit from FOCA and video/photography permits #

Recreational pilots looking to visit Zermatt and shoot some photos or videos will have far fewer loopholes to jump through. Commercial pilots must first obtain a FOCA permit to operate their drones non-recreationally.

Some local authorities require commercial pilots to have a permit before taking commercial videos and/or photos.

Stay away from crowds #

Your drone cannot operate closer than 328 feet or 100 meters of crowds.

A lighter drone can fly over people’s heads in a crowd but could still cause a panic, so try to limit how close you get to large throngs of people.

Avoid protected or hunting areas #

Switzerland has many protected areas for migratory and water birds. Other areas are available for hunters.

Drones cannot fly in either of these spaces, with no exceptions offered for commercial or recreational pilots.

Drones can fly automated #

If you autonomously control your drone, you’re legally permitted to fly it in Switzerland, provided you can maintain eyes on the drone the entire time and control it if the drone begins to stray off-course.

FPV goggles are allowed #

Swiss drone law also permits FPV goggles and tools like them.

You must keep your drone within your visual line of sight, and even with such, must have a visual observer with you.

More so than only watching, the visual observer must be able to control your drone if you cannot.

Watch your drone #

The aforementioned VLOS rules apply whether you’re flying a standard drone or an FPV model.

If you must use video glasses, binoculars, or any other technical aid to maintain eyes on your drone, you must go through FOCA for a special license.

Don’t use your drone at night #

FOCA prohibits pilots from operating a drone after dark. This is for your safety, so don’t risk it!

Give manned aircraft the right of way #

You shouldn’t fly more than 400 feet into the skies anyway, which will minimize your chances of encountering manned aircraft.

However, if you come across manned aircraft when using your drone in Zermatt, you must give the aircraft the right of way.

Here are some handy drone usage and safety tips that will help you prepare for your trip to Zermatt:

  • Always follow takeoff procedure rules. Check your drone and confirm it’s in good operational shape. Look for a clear area to fly your drone and inspect for any hazards. Shout out “clear” ahead of launching. Stay cognizant of your surroundings the entire time you’re in the sky.
  • Carry your drone registration, license, and any necessary permits on your person. You never know if you’ll have to produce these documents, and you will need them to get through customs anyway.
  • Always have a backup plan. What will you do if you lose control of your drone or it crashes? Don’t leave these situations up to chance!
  • As you get closer to the mountains, the weather in Zermatt becomes harder to predict. The area can get hit with some hard gusts of wind, fog, and cold temperatures to match. Always check the weather to ensure it’s safe to fly before you venture out with your drone.
  • Use a drone app that works internationally to check a real-time map before launching your drone in Switzerland. You don’t want to fly in restricted airspace, as you could receive a fine or possibly a more severe punishment.
  • Bring enough spare batteries so that if your first set dies, you don’t have to rush back to your hotel room to recharge your drone.

Zermatt is a stellar place to fly a drone. This Swiss municipality permits drones but not around airports, police facilities, military bases, or crowded environments like the ski resorts.

Remember that since Switzerland is a part of the European Union, you must follow EASA’s drone rules and FOCA’s. Stay safe and have fun flying! 


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