Drone regulations in China

China, as the home country of DJI, is very liberal in dealing with drones. However, there are a few things you need to consider if you want to fly a multicopter in China. In this post you will learn the most important rules.

Flying a drone is allowed in China. In large metropolitan areas or near government buildings or in politically troubled areas, we would, however, exercise particular caution and prefer to forego one or the other aerial image.

Please note that Hong Kong and Macao regulate the operation of drones differently:

Registration of drones in China

Registration of drones with a take-off mass of more than 250 grams has been required since June 2017. It seems like foreign pilots do not have to register (exception: DJI drones), but we recommend that you check with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAAC) for any changes before traveling to China.

A special case are drones from DJI. As soon as you are in China, according to our information, a message appears asking for registration, regardless of your country of origin. So DJI pilots can’t avoid registering.

You can register online here. To do this, simply follow the instructions, which are in Chinese. If you have no way to translate the pages, this blog post has some very helpful tips on how to fill them out.

Important: You need a Chinese phone number to register. That should not be a problem. Either you have Chinese friends who can help you or you buy a Chinese SIM card. Apparently, only larger stores in the country sell them to tourists.

Another note: You may have to enter an email address in the drone portal. Note that Gmail is blocked in China. If possible, use another mail service.

Overview: Drone rules in China

Recreational use of drones allowed? Yes, after registration or approval
Commercial use of drones permitted? Yes, after registration or approval
Maximum Altitude:120 Meter (393,7 Foot) in uncontrolled airspace.
Is drone insurance mandatory? Yes, for private and commercial drone flights. Learn more about drone insurance here.
Does the drone need a badge?Yes.
Drone labels can be ordered here
Is a registration necessary? Yes.
Keep distance to airports
Respect the privacy of other people

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More information for drone pilots in China

In China, drones may be operated up to a weight of 7 kilograms. Additional approval from the CAAC is required for a higher take-off weight and for commercial copter missions. Your drone can fly up to 500 meters away from you.

You can find out about multicopter insurance in our article.

Good to know: no-fly zones in China

Beijing is in a no-fly zone. Multicopters are not allowed to fly on the 6th Ring Road.

Before starting your drone, try to find out about temporary drone bans, for example during celebrations or important events.

Readers of our blog also had the problem that a no-fly zone was set up along the great wall and their copter could not take off. So do not be disappointed if a flight at a well-known sight does not work as planned.

We have researched the listed drone regulations for China to the best of our knowledge. We can not guarantee the correctness of the information. If you want to be on the safe side, please contact the Chinese aviation authority. Alternatively, you can also ask the embassy in your country for further information about the regulations. Please leave us a comment when you receive news and/or gain experience with your copter in China!

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About the author

Since January 2015, we travel around the world. In our backpack we carry a camera drone which we use to capture the best places from a bird’s perspective. First we travelled with a DJI Phantom 2. But now we use a Yuneec Typhoon H. On our blog we share the best tips for you about travelling with a copter. If you have questions about this article or new information, don’t hesitate to leave us a comment!

Discussions

  • Victor | 20.03.2017

    Hi Chinese one is not very accurate. Beijing is in a no-fly zone. You can fly a drone within the 6th ring road which is about 50 km from the city center.

    • Victor | 20.03.2017

      I mean you can NOT.

    • Francis Markert | 20.03.2017

      Cool Victor, thanks for your comment. I will update/extend the article as soon as possible.

      • Ali | 04.04.2018

        Hi there, sorry I don’t really understand. So I bought my spark from Beijing, but I can’t fly it in beijing? I have to leave Beijing to make my first flight?? Or is there something I missed? Thanks

        • Cyril | 07.05.2018

          hi, exactly. You can’t fly within the 6th ring. DJI will update the firmware of your drone when you will first turn it on. This update will add the list of nofly zones in China. On your phone screen, you will see the map and the following message: “No GPS signal”. Therefore your drone won’t be able to take off. You can still pay a trip to the wall and do great shots there, after CAAC registration. I do own a Mavic Air, and I do have the same issue. Bought it here, can’t fly it here.

        • Victor Chen | 17.12.2018

          yes, your understanding is correct. Beijing city is in a strict no-fly zone. Have you ever seen a single aircraft including a helicopter in the sky during your stay? ;-P

    • Will Lee | 25.08.2018

      I was not able to fly my Mavic Pro in Beijing. I had to go to Badaling Great Wall of China. https://youtu.be/P_M1Tj055jE

  • Folkert de Bruyn | 16.05.2017

    Hi can I use my mavic pro in chiina

    • Francis Markert | 28.07.2017

      Yes I think so 🙂

  • Seng | 25.05.2017

    Hi, i actually have seen chinese people piloting one above the Xi Lake in Hangzhou. so my guess is that it is possible.

  • Nathan Petralia | 13.06.2017

    @Folkert, you can! Just check out the no fly zones here: http://www.dji.com/fly-safe/category-mc?w&www=v1

  • Sjoerd | 31.08.2017

    What about Tibet? Any idea?

    • Victor Chen | 10.06.2018

      You can’t fly it in Lhasa and anywhere near military facilities.

  • Pali Aha | 01.11.2017

    i am in FengHuang, China now (Nov 1, 2017). DiSTANCE LIMIT of 50 meters. 50 meters!

  • Deborah | 14.11.2017

    I am getting ready to purchase a drone for an upcoming trip to China. Any recommendations on beginner models? Are visitors required to register their drones with China?

    • Francis Markert | 28.03.2018

      Hi Deborah,
      I think the DJI Mavic Air is a good drone for the beginning. And yes, you also need to register your drone in China.

      • Cyril | 07.05.2018

        Mavic Air without any hesitation. The best drone so far to travel with. If you want an advice, purchase the bundle. You’ll get 3 batteries. It’s very frustrating to find the perfect spot, and run out of juice after few minutes.

  • majew | 10.01.2018

    My son had a stopover in Shanghai. This was very difikult because he had to take his Suitcase from one to next plane , althow same china airline with all checkings. Most have only with chinese advices. 1 Battery from 2 he had to put in his handbag . You need at least 3 hours.

    • Francis Markert | 28.03.2018

      Good to know, thank you Majew!

  • Jon Tan | 04.05.2018

    For CAAC registration requires you to have a celllphone number in china before moving on.

    Do you need it or no?
    I will be heading there in a few days.
    With my dji spark.

    • Cyril | 07.05.2018

      You need it to fly legally.

  • Richard Goatley | 09.06.2018

    Hi ime going to base camp, can i fly there?

  • BK | 14.06.2018

    Hello there,
    I’m planning to take my drone to Tibet and Xinjiang in August. Initially, I will be arriving at Beijing International Airport then will be taking 3 internal flights within China.
    Do anyone know about rules in Tibet for drones?
    Thank you
    #BK

    • Gene | 17.06.2018

      Given the recent political situation in Xinjiang – where as many as a million Uyghur people are in concentration camps, the whole place is a police state, and it is increasingly difficult for foreigners to visit – I’d be really surprised if they let you in there with a drone. Maybe only for really touristy places.

    • Victor Chen | 18.06.2018

      don’t fly in the city. You should be OK.

    • #CAO | 03.09.2018

      Hey BK,
      How did your Tibet and Xinjiang plan pan out? I’ll be taking my spark in to Tibet this October. Did you register your drone with the CAAC?

      Thanks!

      #CAO

  • WEIWEI | 22.11.2018

    You need to register you drone in CAAC(http://uas.caac.gov.cn) before you fly it in china (if fly under 120metre height and in eye-view(500meter),you do not need a drone license, but you need to register the drone and paste the genertated QR Code on you drone.

    Unfortuanltely ,seems that site have not an english version…

  • raja | 17.12.2018

    hi.. I am in shanghai on a visit and bought a drone for my kid. will I be permitted to carry this from shanghai to HK and from there to India? if so, cabin or check-in luggage?

    • Victor Chen | 17.12.2018

      you must put the batteries in your cabin luggage if you board the flight in China.

      • Raja | 17.12.2018

        Thank you. This helps.

  • Anna | 25.12.2018

    Does anyone know how long it takes for the whole registration process to complete and be approved. Going to China last min and bringing a drone

  • Jazz | 15.12.2019

    Do we have any news taking drones to Xinjiang? I will not be using it there, but as I’m backpacking through China, it’ll be in my pack.

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