If you’ve seen any of the aerial photos and video clips of Thailand’s dazzling scenery, you may be tempted to pack your drone on your next trip here. But to keep on the right side of the law and fly a drone legally in Thailand, there are some important steps to follow. Most notably, drones cannot be flown in Thailand until they have been registered with the relevant Thai authorities. Even if you are flying as a hobbyist, the information below still applies. If you are flying a drone for commercial reasons, extra rules apply in addition to those listed here.
Thailand’s drone laws
All drones (regardless of size) that are fitted with a camera must be registered. Drones need to be registered with both of these authorities before you can fly:
- National Broadcasting Telecommunications Commission (NBTC)
- Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT)
Drones are also referred to in the regulations as unmanned aircraft or remotely piloted aircraft (RPA). Flying a drone in Thailand without being registered is illegal. The penalty can be a fine ranging from 40,000 baht to 100,000 Baht and a 1-5 year prison sentence. On-the-spot fines can also be issued for flying dangerously or in restricted areas.
Third-party liability insurance (with a minimum coverage of 1 million Baht) is also required before flying a drone in Thailand. The insurance paperwork must be in English and needs to show your full name and your drone serial number.
Some of the key do’s and don’ts of flying a drone in Thailand include:
- Don’t fly higher than 90 metres
- Don’t fly close to manned aircraft
- Don’t fly close to people, vehicles or buildings (the drone should always be a minimum of 30 metres away)
- Don’t fly over any areas where people are gathered
- Don’t fly in or near restricted areas e.g. government offices, state buildings, hospitals etc.
- Don’t fly within 9 km (or 5 nautical miles) of any airport or temporary airfield
- Don’t allow any person under 18 to fly the drone
- Do get permission of the owner of the land to fly (this includes National Parks)
- Do fly in line of sight at all times
- Do respect the privacy rights of others
How to apply for permission to fly your drone
If you are visiting Thailand for a 2-3 week holiday, you might not have enough time to get your drone registered. Although the process with NBTC can usually be completed in person on the same day as applying, registering with CAAT can be long-winded as explained in this helpful article. In theory it is meant to be complete within 15 days, but that is not always the case.
The documents you will need for the registration process include:
- A signed copy of your passport
- A photo of your drone
- Serial number of your drone
- Two copies of the completed registration form
- Proof of address in Thailand
Register with NBTC
To register with NBTC online:
To register in person you can visit the head office in Bangkok (see details below) or any of the various NBTC regional offices around Thailand including Chiang Mai, Chumphon, Hat Yai, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Phuket. An appointment isn’t usually required.
National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC)
87 Phahonyothin Alley
Open: Mon-Fri 08.30-16.30
Tel: +(66) 2670 8888
NBTC Call Centre: 1200
Register with CAAT
Drone registration with CAAT is free and can be completed online here. Some users have reported a frustrating experience when trying to fill out the required information so you will need to be patient.
CAAT rules and guidelines for drone registration and flying:
Travelling with a drone
If you’re travelling around Thailand with your drone, it’s recommended to carry copies of these documents with you:
- Liability insurance
- Registration documents
- Copy of the rules from the CAAT and NBTC website (carry copies in Thai and English)
When travelling by air, your drone and batteries must be placed inside your cabin baggage. You should also check the individual requirements of your airline before travelling and follow their regulations on batteries.
Rules can, and do, change frequently in Thailand. The information here is a guideline, but always check the latest regulations and requirements with the NBTC and CAAT.
You may also enjoy
Fan Club Thailand
Tourism Thailand (UK & Ireland)
We are here to help you experience the best of amazing Thailand. Bookmark our online magazine for ideas and tips for what to see and do in Thailand, and follow us on social media for even more travel inspiration.