Drone regulations in Hong Kong

Drone rules in Hong Kong

In this article, we explain to you the regulations for drone pilots in the cosmopolitan city of Hong Kong.

In June 2022, the current regulation for unmanned aerial vehicles weighing up to 25 kilograms came into force.

No prior approval from the Civil Aviation Department (CAD) is required for standard operations with drones weighing less than seven kilograms. It is important that the applicable operating regulations are complied with.

Prior approval from the CAD is required for flight operations that go beyond the usual requirements. This may be necessary in the following cases, for example:

  • The drone is to fly higher than the height limit specifies.
  • Operation is to take place beyond visual range.
  • The drone weighs more than seven kilograms.
  • Dangerous goods are to be transported.
  • Operation is to take place within a restricted flight zone.

In all of these cases, the CAD must approve the drone flight. Permission is only not required if the drone flight takes place in a closed building.

Drones are divided into three categories according to weight, for which different regulations apply: A1, A2 and B.

Category A1: Drones weighing less than 250 g

If your drone weighs less than 250 grams, you do not need CAD approval for your flights. This applies, for example, to the popular DJI Mini 4 Pro.

Drone insurance is only mandatory for drones weighing 250 grams or more. However, we recommend that all drone pilots take out appropriate insurance.

Further regulations in category A1:

  • Operation only permitted in daylight and within visual range
  • No minimum age required for drone pilots
  • Maximum flight altitude: 100 feet (30.48 meters)
  • Minimum distance to people/buildings/vehicles/ships: 10 meters
  • Maximum flight speed: 20 km/h
  • Maximum size of your drone: 1 meter (with the exception that the longest distance between two rotor blade tips can be up to 1.2 meters)

You need a registration for drone flights that exceed these restrictions.

Category A2: Drones weighing 250 g or more and less than 7 kg

No prior approval from CAD is required for standard operations with drones weighing less than 7 kilograms. It is important that the applicable operating regulations are complied with.

However, you must register your drones on the eSUA platform. We explain how this works below.

Further regulations in category A2:

  • Operation only permitted in daylight and within visual range
  • Minimum age for remote pilot: 14 years / for registration as responsible person: 18 years
  • Drone must document flights and have a geo-awareness system
  • Maximum flight altitude: 300 feet (91.4 meters)
  • Minimum distance to people/buildings/vehicles/ships: 30 meters
  • Maximum flight speed: 50 km/h
  • Maximum size of your drone: 1 m (with the exception that the longest distance between two rotor blade tips can be up to 1.2 m)
  • Drone must be insured

Category B: Drones weighing more than 7 kg and less than 25 kg

The same rules apply to drones weighing seven kilograms or more and less than 25 kilograms as for category A2 drones.

In addition, you must complete advanced training and pass an examination at a CAD-approved training facility.

Drone liability insurance (bodily injury and/or death) with a minimum cover of HK$10 million is mandatory here.

How do I register my drone?

Drones weighing more than 250 grams must be registered online.

Registration takes place via the eSUA portal (https://esua.cad.gov.hk/web/?lang=en_US).

After submitting all the required documents, you will receive a registration label, which must be clearly visible on the outside of your drone. You will then need to log back into your eSUA account to enter the verification code and upload a photo showing that your drone has been tagged. After successful registration, a SUA registration certificate will be sent to your registered e-mail address.

The registration is only valid once the verification has been completed. If the uploaded photo does not meet the specified requirements, you will be asked to submit another photo and the validity of the registration will be affected until the photo is confirmed as correct.

You must be at least 18 years old to register. For drone pilots under 18, a parent may register.

An SUA registration certificate is normally valid for up to five years. Renewal of the SUA registration can be applied for at the earliest four months before and at the latest one year after the expiry date of the registration.

Regardless of the weight of your drone, remote pilots must also register for advanced operation.

Overview: Drone rules in Hong Kong

Recreational use of drones allowed? Yes, without further requirements
Commercial use of drones permitted? Yes, after registration or approval
Maximum Altitude:300 in uncontrolled airspace.
Is drone insurance mandatory? Yes, for commercial drone flights. Learn more about drone insurance here.
Does the drone need a badge?Unknown.
Drone labels can be ordered here
Is a registration necessary? Yes.
Keep distance to airports
Respect the privacy of other people

Flights in the vicinity of airports are not permitted. A minimum distance of 5 kilometers from an aerodrome is specified. Drone flights are not permitted in the following regions:

  • Hong Kong International Airport
  • North Lantau coastal area
  • Coastal areas from Tai Lam Chung to Tsuen Wan and Tsing Yi Island
  • Victoria Harbour and its coastal areas
  • Shek Kong area

The drone map with the no-fly zones can be found here: https://esua.cad.gov.hk/web/droneMap

In controlled airspace, the maximum permitted flight altitude is 30 meters (100 feet). In uncontrolled airspace, however, drones are allowed to fly up to an altitude of 91 meters (300 feet).

The permitted flight altitudes depend on the airspace classification and category:

Controlled airspace:

  • A1: 100 feet
  • A2: 100 feet
  • B: 100 feet

Uncontrolled airspace:

  • A1: 100 feet
  • A2: 300 feet
  • B: 300 feet

We have researched the listed drone regulations for Hong Kong 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 competent 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 Hong Kong!

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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 several drones like the DJI Phantom 4 Pro+ or the DJI Mini 3 Pro. On our blog we share the best tips for you about travelling with a drone. If you have questions about this article or new information, don’t hesitate to leave us a comment!

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