Table of Contents
Switzerland promises enchanting mountain views, medieval architecture, and landmarks aplenty, from the famed chapel bridge in Lucerne to the clock tower in Bern.
It’s no wonder drone pilots so eagerly wish to fly in this European country.
Not so fast. The Federal Office of Civil Aviation, or FOCA, requires drone pilots to register before setting off on their Swiss adventures. How do you do that?
Here’s how to register a drone in Switzerland:
- Create a CH-LOGIN on UAS.gate
- Register your drone
- Receive a UAS operator number
- Attach the number to your drone
It sounds simple enough, but – like most countries – Switzerland has its own intricacies around drone laws and registrations you must know. This guide will provide you with all the requisite information.
Can I legally fly a drone in Switzerland? #
FOCA, Switzerland’s aviation authority, does permit drones in Switzerland.
As is the case with the rest of the world, you must be aware of restricted areas and no-fly zones, keeping your drone within the permitted distance from these areas.
You’re also prohibited from using your drone in some fashions, which I’ll discuss later as I delve into Switzerland’s drone laws.
» MORE: Can You Fly a Drone in a UK National Park?
How to register a drone in Switzerland (Step by step) #
You’re glad to hear you won’t be precluded from registering your drone in Switzerland, but how do you do it? Let’s review the steps.
Step 1 #
Visit the UAS.gate website, a part of eIAM, the central permission and access system used by the country’s Federal Administration for all native mobile apps and web applications.
UAS.gate is also used for drone testing and training purposes.
You must have a CH-LOGIN to use the UAS.gate website.
» MORE: How to Register a Drone in Italy (Read This First)
Step 2 #
Register for an account on CH-LOGIN if you don’t already have one. You can register for free by clicking here.
Choose the CH-LOGIN (eGovernment) link and click the Create Account button. You will be asked to input your first and last name, email address, and unique password.
The password must be 10 characters, with two special characters or digits, one lowercase letter, and one uppercase letter.
Check your inbox, as you will receive a confirmation code from eIAM. Type in your unique confirmation code and click the blue Continue button.
You’ve created a CH-LOGIN.
Step 3 #
Log into CH-LOGIN, and you’re ready to register your drone.
You can select from a natural or legal person as part of your registration, so let’s talk about the difference between the two.
- A natural person is an individual who has taken and passed an exam and drone training.
- A legal person is part of an office, association, or company and does not need to take an exam or undergo drone training.
Please select the appropriate option as you register your drone.
The online registration form will ask for your contact details, including your full name, phone number, and birth date. You must also input a form of photo ID and your ID number.
Switzerland requires liability insurance for drones, and you cannot register without it.
Include the registered office for the insured, the insurance company, and the insurance policy number.
» MORE: Drone Laws in Romania (Everything You Need to Know)
Step 4 #
After registering, you will get a unique UAS operator number.
It will start with the letters CHE and include 12 main digits plus three more at the end.
The last three digits are your secret digits, while the first three letters and 12 digits are not.
Step 5 #
You must include all but the three secret digits on your drone.
You have many ways to mark the drone with your UAS operator number, from writing it on the drone to engraving it, attaching a plaque, or affixing a sticker.
However, you must use a waterproof pen or marker when writing by hand.
The UAS operator number must be visible on your drone, so be careful about stickers. If they come off and you fly your drone, you’re breaking the law.
» MORE: How to Register My Drone in Europe (Explained)
Can I register a drone in Switzerland as a non-resident? #
Some countries strictly prohibit drone pilots from registering unless they live in that country.
Switzerland is not one of them. Residents and non-residents alike can fly drones here after registering.
Can I take a drone registered in Switzerland anywhere in Europe? #
Switzerland is a member of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency or EASA.
As such, once you obtain drone registration in Switzerland, you can fly your drone across any EASA Member State.
However, this only applies to countries that have joined EASA. The full list is:
However, if you’re a non-European traveling to Europe, you must take a certificate exam online to use the drone in an EASA Member State.
I recommend taking the exam in an English-speaking European country, which is not Switzerland. They speak Italian, German, French, and Romansh there.
» MORE: Can You Bring a Drone to Europe?
Drone laws for recreational and commercial use #
Commercial and recreational pilots must follow Switzerland’s drone laws whenever operating.
Here is an overview of the rules.
Abide by EASA regulations #
EASA has its own drone laws pilots in the European Union must follow, even if they’re from another part of the world.
You must obey the local laws when traveling with a drone.
Most non-European pilots visiting Switzerland meet EASA’s Open category.
Your drone passes the criteria if you don’t use it for dropping materials or transporting dangerous items.
You should not fly your drone over 400 feet or 120 meters from the ground, always keep a visual line of sight on your drone or be accompanied by an observer, and never fly a drone over people unless it’s under 0.55 pounds or 250 grams.
Your drone should not exceed a takeoff weight of more than 55 pounds or 25 kilograms, and you should have bought it before January 1st, 2023.
» MORE: Can You Fly a Drone in Venice, Italy?
Check cantons and municipalities for local laws #
A canton, which is a Swiss Confederation member state, and municipalities across Switzerland maintain the right to introduce laws prohibiting drone use.
Always review the regulations for the canton or municipality you plan to visit before arriving and using your drone.
Limit airport distance #
Swiss drone laws forbid pilots from operating nearer than 3.1 miles or 5 kilometers from any nearby airport.
Use a drone map to determine the proximity of the closest one.
Manage your drone weight #
You can technically fly a drone in Switzerland that exceeds 1.1 pounds or 500 grams. However, you must have 1 million francs insured if your drone causes damage.
One Swiss franc is the equivalent of $1.1 USD, so you need about $1 million USD in insurance.
» MORE: Can You Fly a Drone in Santorini?
Do not fly over crowds #
Although EASA laws allow lightweight drones to fly nearer to crowds, Switzerland’s drone law prohibits drone operations nearer than 328 feet or 100 meters of a crowd.
Don’t fly near bird protection zones #
Switzerland has areas safeguarding migratory and water birds. You cannot fly a drone here for any reason.
That law also applies to hunting areas.
Keep your drone in your line of sight #
You can use a drone autonomously in Switzerland if it stays within your field of vision, including using FPV goggles.
However, for non-autonomous flights, you cannot use vision aids to maintain VLOS except for your glasses or contacts.
Binoculars are only permitted with a FOCA license.
If you cannot meet these rules, you must have a spotter present to assist you.
» MORE: Can You Fly a Drone in Switzerland?
What happens if I break a drone law in Switzerland? #
Violating Switzerland’s drone laws can lead to hefty fines of 20,000 to 250,000 Francs, which is about $20,000 to $250,000 USD.
You should always use your drone within the parameters above, keeping the regulations of the Swiss Data Protection Act in mind during your flights.
Under the Swiss Data Protection Act, you can photograph the area with your drone but cannot use your drone camera to violate someone’s privacy.
Do I need insurance to fly a drone in Switzerland? #
Switzerland requires drone insurance if your UAV exceeds the 250-gram threshold.
You must have limited liability insurance.
FOCA contact details in Switzerland #
Do you have questions about a drone law or want more information on drone registration in Switzerland? You can always contact FOCA for your needs.
FOCA’s postal address is as follows: Federal Office of Civil Aviation, 3003 Bern, Switzerland
You can contact them by phone using the switchboard, which is available on Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., then 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. The phone number is 41 58 465 80 39.
If you wish to fax FOCA, contact them at 41 58 465 80 32.
Can I bring my drone to Switzerland by plane? #
Do you live in another part of Europe or perhaps in a different country, such as the United States or Canada?
You wish to see Switzerland and bring your drone camera to commemorate the special occasion.
No laws prohibit you from taking a drone on a plane to Switzerland.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. You should expect to be stopped by a TSA agent and potentially reveal what’s in your luggage.
Here are my best tips for expediting the airline check-in.
» MORE: Can I Take My DJI Mini 3 / Mini 3 Pro on a Plane?
Arrive early #
You know how you usually arrive two hours ahead of a flight? I would double that or at least add an extra hour when traveling to another country with a drone.
If you get stopped in customs or experience any other delay, you can still make your flight with time to spare.
And hey, if you don’t run into any snags, you can use the extra time to grab something to eat and drink or sit and wait for your flight information to update.
Declare your drone at customs #
You must declare your drone when going to and from Switzerland (if you decide to leave).
Don’t try to sneak the drone by, as the airline agents will know what you’re trying to do and won’t allow it.
It will seem more suspicious if you try to do that than if you’re forthcoming.
» MORE: Can You Bring a Drone on a Plane? (Here’s How)
Use a drone backpack #
You might bring your drone as a carry-on, but even then, it can still get jostled as you transport the rest of your luggage to and from.
You don’t want to take the chance of your drone getting broken or damaged in transit, especially if yours is a costlier model.
Invest in a drone backpack or case designed for your drone model or one like it.
These bags will have snug compartments for drone transport, preventing them from shifting and bumping into other items in your luggage.
» MORE: Best Drone Backpacks (And Tips for Traveling with Your Drone)
Don’t carry your drone as checked luggage #
I can’t recommend bringing your drone as checked luggage.
Bags get thrown or roughed up. Luggage gets spun roughly through the carousel.
Traveling is tough on luggage, and it can be even tougher when your drone breaks.
You don’t want to arrive in beautiful Switzerland to discover that bad bit of news.
Review the airline policy about battery travel #
Check your chosen airline before your flight and look into their battery policy.
Some airlines prohibit LiPo batteries from traveling, as the high-pressure cabin of the plane could cause overheating and a potential fire.
If your airline allows batteries, that applies to drone batteries as well. If it doesn’t, you can’t take your batteries with you.
You should always remove drone batteries from the UAV before flying, storing them in their own carrying case or compartment of your drone bag.
» MORE: Bringing a Drone on a Plane – Ultimate Guide