How to Fly your Drone in Thailand?
Thailand Drone Rules 2019/2020
By Benoit Ricard
How to Fly your Drone in Thailand?
Thailand Drone Rules 2019 – 2020
A comprehensive list of steps for flying your drone in Thailand.
My name is Ben and I am a professional photographer and videographer based in Phuket, Thailand. Using my drones is an important part of my work so ensuring that I’m legally able to fly, am fully insured and have all the necessary permissions is a vital part of my professional service. My work includes video content production, documentaries, advertising, real estate imagery and promotional and corporate videos in and around Thailand, where, if you follow the rules, you can shoot from above in most places.
Thailand Drone Law
The following is a step by step account of how to fly your drone legally in Thailand. I’ve tried to keep it as simple as possible with 3 main steps, but do bear in mind that it would be wise to keep a close track of any applications made to professional bodies, as Thailand can be administratively slow. So, let’s start….
Update July 2020
A friend just did the registration last month, first registration on May 17th, license approved on 1st of June.
It looks like CAAT’s service has considerably improved.
Step One: How to Register your Drone in Thailand?
Whether you want to fly your drone as a hobby, or professionally, the first thing you need to do is to register your drone with the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC). As I live in Phuket, I went to the Phuket district office of NBTC 11 in Kathu where you go if you want to fly in Phuket, Phang Nga or Krabi. You will need to present your drone, your passport with a valid visa of course, your work permit if necessary and the radio controller and batteries.You will be asked to complete a form in Thai which was a challenge as I do not read Thai, however, the officers were really helpful and polite and I had the registration document within 90 minutes. Please note that NBTC drone registration online is not available as you actually need to present your RPA (standing for Remotely Piloted Aircraft) in person.
It is important to note that this document does not allow you to fly: it is simply the registration of your Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) as the NTBC is responsible for regulating and monitoring all radio telecommunications.
Step Two: Insuring your Drone in Thailand?
Of course there is a legal obligation to insure your RPA (Remotely Piloted Aircraft) as without doing so you would not be able to apply for your CAAT Licence. You will need to acquire minimum insurance of 1 million Thai Baht with the following information made clear;
- Drone Brand
- Drone Model
- Drone Serial Number
- Drone Weight
- Your name as an insured member on the paperwork
- Coverage is international or for Thailand only
I used Mittare Insurance and chose Plan A with a fee of 3000.00 THB per year. The process is quite simple and can be done over the phone or by email. I was pleasantly surprised by how fast this took as I had my insurance within 24 hours.The documents I needed to present included: a copy of my passport, a copy of my work permit or valid visa, the invoice for your drone, the NTBC RPA registration document, 6 photos of your drone (left side, right side, top side and back side with the serial number visible) and a proof of payment method for the insurance.
Once your RPA (Remotely Piloted Aircraft) is registered and insured you are one step closer to flying your drone in Thailand. The final step includes registering your drone with CAAT (Civil Aviation Authority Thailand) and acquiring the CAAT Drone Pilot Licence.
Step Three: CAAT Thailand Drone Registration
Once you have registered your drone with NBTC and your drone is insured properly you are ready for step three; CAAT drone registration.
So, for my first CAAT drone registration I actually used an agent that took care of some of the administrative issues for me. I was not entirely sure of how simple the process would be and I wanted it to be done accurately. The agent fee is typically between 1500 – 3000 THB, however, you will still need to provide the NBTC registration documents, insurance documents and complete the self declaration of power of attorney yourself.
For my second drone I decided to try registering it myself.
As expected there are strict rules regarding working as a drone operator in Thailand. CAAT makes it very clear that any drone with a camera and over 2kgs MUST be registered with zero exceptions. You can choose to register your drone as an individual or in a company name, and this can all be done online. It is very important to note at this point your NBTC registration, insurance and CAAT licence MUST all be in the same name.
I made a silly error by insuring my drone in my personal name and then attempting to register my drone with CAAT in my company name. Even with providing my company documents, work permit, passport, NBTC registration documents and photos of my drone they rejected me. Unfortunately I lost 45 days and had to start the CAAT RPA registration all over again all in my personal name.
The really cool thing is that CAAT have great officers that speak good English and who are more than happy to help you. I found this incredibly useful.
The online form is both in Thai and English so it is pretty simple to follow. Once you have provided pilot information, drone details and proof of insurance you will also need to upload the following documents to their website:
- copy of passport
- copy of visa or work permit
- drone invoice
- 2 photos of your drone with serial number visible
- copy of your insurance policy in accordance with drone regulations
- self declaration form signed and scanned
Here is the latest version https://www.caat.or.th/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/RevisedSelf-Declaration15MAR18.pdf
And the waiting game begins...
I strongly advise you to visit their website (https://uav.caat.or.th/) regularly for an update on your application. That way, you can track any obstacles should they arise. Login and go into history for an update. See the diagram below as a reference.
The CAAT UVA Registration Certification is valid for 2 years.
I have yet to renew a CAAT licence so I have no idea if I have to go through this whole process again or if there is renewal process based on original documentation provided. I’ll guess I will have all that to look forward to. I have just completed the same steps for my third drone so I am legally ready to continue providing safe, professional imagery for my clients.
Your final document will look like this:
Step FOUR: FLY A DRONE IN Thailand
Once you have your CAAT license you are legally permitted to fly your drone in Thailand.
But, of course, there are more rules: now you must make sure you are fully aware of all of Thailand’s drone aviation rules. Here are a few of the basic ones:
- A drone is permitted to fly to a maximum height of 90 meters (300 feet)
- Your drone must ALWAYS be in your sight
- Insurance is totally compulsory. You must insure your drone to cover damages of at least 1 million Baht
- For any drone OVER 2kg you MUST obtain a CAAT licence
- For a drone over 25kg you must seek separate approval from the Ministry of Transport
- You must stay a minimum of 9km (5 miles) away from the all airports
- You must stay at least 30 meters away from people, cars and buildings.
- You are not permitted to fly over crowds, cities or villages
- You must also seek approval of the landowner for taking off and landing your drone.
- You can only fly your drone during the day between sunrise and sunset. No flying at night!
- You must be at least 20 years old to fly your drone.
I love my drone work. The absolute pleasure and sense of adventure it brings me is well worth the effort of the administrative paperwork required to fly legally and safely within Thailand. I am happy to offer my clients the peace of mind to choose a shooting destination based on desire rather than legal obstructions. Real estate imagery is high in demand in Phuket so I often find myself trudging through fields seeking permissions from surrounding properties. My team and I operate respectfully, safely and within the law allowing us the freedom of mind to pursue the best possible aerial images for our clients.