Drone regulations in Nepal

In this article, I’ll tell you which rules apply to drone pilots in Nepal.

In Nepal, you need an approval from the civil aviation authority when taking aerial photographs. However, according to the experience of several readers, this permission is rarely granted to foreigners. Those flying illegally risk arrest or massive fines. That’s why I advise against starting your drone without permission.

If you manage to obtain a permit from the aviation authority, the following rules apply.

Maximum flight altitude: The maximum allowed flight altitude is 120 meters (= 400 feet) in Nepal.

Maximum horizontal distance and FPV: All flight operations must be in sight. A horizontal distance of 500 meters (= 1650 feet) is given as a guideline.

Compulsory insurance: Even if it is not stipulated, you should take out personal liability insurance for drones.

Maximum take-off weight (MTOW): Up to a weight of 2 kilograms, drones are allowed to fly on private land without permission. With a take-off weight of more than 7 kilograms, the maximum flight altitude is 200 feet (60 meters). Drones may weigh up to 20 kilograms.

Distance to airports: Unfortunately, I have not found a specific guideline, but you should keep several kilometers distance from airports.

Other safe distances: As I understand, drones with a camera are classified as Small Unmanned Surveillance Aircraft, for which specific minimum distances (150 meters to crowds, 50 meters to buildings and vehicles) must be observed.

Flight bans: I do not know any particular flight bans for drones in Nepal.

Flight approval: In Nepal, the flying of a drone is permitted in principle, but you must apply for an authorization from the Civil Aviation Authority Nepal (CAAN) if you want to make film recordings.

Time of operations: In Nepal, drones may be operated only during the day.

Specific regulations: Because of the high location, the air is very thin. Not all drones can fly at these heights. Before your Nepal trip, I would check if your drone can operate in these regions.

Regulations for commercial pilots: Commercial copter users need permission from the authorities.

Good to know: I would be susceptible at Hindu temples because Hindus often do not like that other believers see certain parts of their temples. Ask beforehand!

Helpful links: Directive of the CAAN, statements about the approval process

We have researched the listed drone regulations for Nepal 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 Nepal!

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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

  • Hendrik van der Veen | 29.08.2017

    Hello Francis, more than a month ago I sent an email to CAAN, the Ministry of home affairs and the Ministry of tourism to obtain a letter of permission to fly my DJI Mavic Pro at the end of October. I did specify the travel route and that it was for tourism purpose, not commercial, and no detailed lattitude/longitude/take-off and landing spots and times.
    I still haven’t heard anything. Not even a message of receiving my request.
    I tried to ask my local travel agent, and he said that the Ministry of Home Affairs would even ask a liaison officer to go along to inspect the use of the drone…
    Ouch… that would be impossible to do for a Annapurna base camp trek.
    Have you got any tips?

    • Joris | 15.09.2017

      I have the same question as Hendrik. 🙂

    • Matej | 09.11.2017

      Hello Hendrik van der Veen,
      Has the CAAN got back to you? Have they ever replied to your email? And… what is the official email of the CAAN? I struggle to find it on their webpage. If CAAN did not reply to you, had you solved the issue in different way? Thank you for your response.

    • Katharyn | 09.12.2017

      Was there any outcome for this? Did you get to fly?

      • Hendrik van der Veen | 25.01.2018

        Sorry for the late answer (notifications ended up in my junk email).
        CAAN never got back to me. And you can find several personal CAAN email-addresses on websites. But they probably get a lot of those emails and you might have a little more succes with a written letter in Nepali.
        My solution was to not bring the drone at all.
        In hindsight a good decision, because I really noticed every kilo I dragged up there. A porter carried less than 10 kilo for me and I carried 10 to 13 kilo (3 camera, 1.5 telelens, 2 for a stabilizer with GoPro, 2 water, jacket, sweater, etc.).

        I noticed several small posters indicating drone flight is prohibited, unless you’ve got permission.
        And I did see one person flying a drone, but could not imagine that spot as a nice spot to fly and shoot incredible footage.

        Furthermore, at several spots where I would have liked to fly my drone, I might have bothered people trying to photograph the scenery anyway. I know I would have hated that too.

    • Prashant Mahaseth | 26.05.2019

      Did airports in Nepal allowed you to bring drone in Nepal was there any difficulty

      • Ben | 27.05.2019

        The airports security check allowed drone in my bag without any problem. Just make sure if you are to fly it, u have proper license to do so.

  • Cas | 19.10.2017

    i tried to fly a drone while doing Annapurna Circuit. Police caught me and took my Mavic Pro. Got it back (as it was still on, took out sim card first quickly). Anyway, got it back after some discussions. our Nepali guide said, not allowed in Nepal. I can imagine it is not allowed in the ACAP area.

    • Nishant Bhandari | 17.03.2019

      And is there is any issue while importing drone in nepal at tia airport does police check it .i m thinking to get p3s from usa

  • Francis Markert | 25.01.2018

    Hi guys,
    Sorry for my late answer. I think the government of Nepal doesn’t want foreigners operating drones in their country. So I have updated the article above with experiences of other drone pilots.

  • Shashwot | 01.03.2018

    What is the procedures for nepali citizen to take a flight all of the process if possible please, will be thankfull

    • Hendrik van der Veen | 01.03.2018

      Personally I think it’s the same. You’ll probably have to contact CAAN about it and the ministry of home affairs. And you’re a citizen, so they might be a bit more responsive with regard to your request.

  • Bassam | 24.06.2018

    Hi all, did anyone tried to reach Nepal embassy instead?

    We have nepal embassy in my country and I was thinking to pay them a visit to obtain a permission.

    • Francis Markert | 13.07.2018

      I would try it in your situation.

  • Satya Joshi | 07.08.2018

    This is very helpful for those who are traveling Nepal. There are laws for flying drones in Nepal.

    I’m curious to know is there any rules in other countries like US, Canada to fly drones.

    • Ravi Kiran Lokesh | 16.09.2018

      Yes there are rules in the U.S , Canada and many other countries
      Most of them are similar 🙂

  • Arvids Baranovs | 09.08.2018

    Unfortunately I also have bad experience with trying to contact CAAN. No responses whatsoever, but for those who know how government in Nepal functions, it’s hardly surprising (long story short – it’s a mess). I have been in Nepal twice, the 1st time I had no problems with the drone, but 2nd time a friend of mine was carrying a drone and had to pay some mystical fee of 80$ at the airport. After long discussions with the customs staff we didn’t get to the bottom of this and what the fee was all about. Nepali style. If anyone does try to fly a drone in Nepal I would suggest being very cautions, fly only when there’s nobody around and when trekking inquire about police and military checkpoints on your way (there are many) and never fly near them. I wish Nepal would sort this out, because responsible and regulated drone flights haven’t hurt anyone.

  • Nepalko Choro.. | 05.09.2018

    Nepal is a mess..there is no any proper rules and order. Even we Nepalese are tired of it. Government workers are a jerk and irresponsible. They need money as curruption on the name of working. no feeeling of service and betterment. It very hard to make things happen in the government sectors. It sucks. They dont follow rules. In airport also they charge whatever they wish for. sometimes 80$ , 100$ ..some time seive the product..sometimes steal from your bags…also commission….Fuckkkk!!!

  • BeN | 16.09.2018

    any chance of bringing a mavic air through the immigration without any issues? only planning to fly it in Khopra

    • Leo | 06.10.2018

      Hello BeN! Did you bring your Mavic Air to Nepal? I don’t even want to fly there if I can’t, but I’m already on the road and would have to get into nepal with it. Did you go?
      Thanks in advance!

      • Ben | 09.10.2018

        Hey.. yeah.. I brought it through the immigration in Tribhuvan without any issues. The main thing when on the trail you must stick to the rules not to fly around in the villages but in very remote areas like in Khopra for instance..

        • Leo | 10.10.2018

          Ben thank you very much!
          I hope you had a great time trekking! I’m doing EBC and Gokyo Lakes so I’m still unsure if I bring the drone or the DSLR. My camera is just soo big, I think I’ll go for the drone even though will be able to fly it just a few times. Hope the altitude won’t be a problem!

          • BEN | 10.10.2018

            Ah, that’s great. Gokyo lakes should be ok to fly, but just make sure that there’s no villages nearby and not to fly over huge crowds (Everest side tend to have more people compared to the Annapurna trails). — especially now also season opening already. I brought 2 Sony A7 bodies with 2 different lenses attached as well. Haha. For drones at that altitude, need to have more backup batteries as they drain rather fast. Have a great trip! U can check out my photos in my instagram (username: bassist_b)

        • Leo | 10.10.2018

          I’m following you right now! Thanks for the tips!
          Sending you all of the best wishes for future travels!
          I will do it solo no guides/porters, so should be flexible and won’t travel around people or villages! Thanks again man! my instagram is @leotreks

  • Alfonso Reno | 04.02.2019

    Hi,
    I have plan to island peak at Feb 28, 2019.
    And i have plan brought mu drone mavic air.
    How your suggestion for that?

    • BeN | 25.02.2019

      Hi Alfonso, again, do please abide to the local laws regarding drone usage. Please consult your guide as to when and where would be best to fly it. Usually everest area not that recommended as there are many rescue helicopters flying in and out of the region daily. Do be safe. Enjoy your trip and I hope you will return safely. Cheers

  • Marek | 22.04.2019

    Hi everybody, FYI, at the entrance to the Sagarmatha NP (Everest BC, Gokyo etc.) there is a sign saying “Taking and use of drone is prohibited inside National Park and Buffer zone area without permission from Department of National Park and Wildlife Conservation”.

  • azzy_home | 02.05.2019

    Just buy a kite ( or make yourself one), attach a go pro to it and fly it. This will most likely bother nobody. They might even get their own kites in the sky. But anything with propellers, they drool.
    I am from Nepal. I have flown kites all day long in kathmandu, event at a distance where its just a dot in the sky.

  • azzy_home | 29.05.2019

    Came through security in Tribhuvan Airport with ease, landing in Kathmandu. I had the drone in the shoulderbag all the time.

    Landing in Dubai was a different experience. We had to leave the drone at the customs, since it was now allowed at all without proper paper. The lady at the custom told me, one needed just the Passport to apply. I acted stupid and let them keep it for the 4 days I was in dubai. Took me like an hour to get it back on my return. At least they were polite at the custom.

  • rubi | 07.08.2019

    Hi all, In 2019 February Nepal Government have changed the drone laws and its far mote easier to operate drones in Nepal. The new rules, regulations and license procedure for drones in Nepal are:

    1. Person/Organizations who wants to operate drone should submit application to CAAN (Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal) to get the Unique Identification Number.Accordingly, applicant must include the purpose for using drone. The application can be downloaded from here. This is compulsory for all the drones which will be used in Nepal.

    Time Taken: 1-2 days

    2. If the drone is set to fly above 200 feet above ground level (AGL), the permission need to take from district administration office or MoHA(Ministry of Home Affairs). For this permission, separate hand written application can be submitted along along with Unique Identification number given by CAAN.

    Time taken: 1-2 days

    3. The permission validity is for 3 months. However, after 3 months, once can easily renew for next 3 months by visiting the office where application is submitted.

    Time taken: 1-2 days(Maximum)

    4. Permission is not required for academic/research (university/colleges) purpose having drone weight less than 2 KG within 200 feet around its premises. However, they should inform to the nearest police station earliest.

    5. No permission is required to fly a drone 50 feet AGL for recreational purpose, ceremony, cultural and religious programme.

    6. The air-route and the area of 5 kilometers around the airport and horizontal distance up to five kilometers on the international border have been designated as prohibited zone for drone flight.

    7. Flying drone is prohibited in Maitighar Mandala, Swoyambhunath, Pashupatinath, Bouddhanath, Budhanilkantha, Durbar Square areas (Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan), religious and archaeological areas, Singha Durbar area, within their aerial radius distance and residence of the president, vice-president and prime minister.

    8. Flying drones is restricted around 1,000 meters of the office of Nepali Army, Nepal Police, Armed Police and 500 meters of other security agencies like embassy, CIB (Central Investigation Bureau),etc.

    9. No one will be allowed to use drones to cause disturbance to the peace, security and privacy of persons. Security agencies have been authorized to confiscate UAVs flown in prohibited areas and take action against their operators.

    10. The HoFA can assign personal to check if operators comply the rules. If not, necessary punitive actions can be taken in the same time according to laws of Nepal.

    There is not any fee that need to be paid for drone operation but during application process, government may charge certain fee as application.

    Source: https://www.telecomkhabar.com/drone-laws-rules-regulations-license-nepal/

  • aerialebc | 06.09.2019

    Hello, Sir. How was it? Did you manage to fly your drone somewhere on EBC trek. Can you give some piece of advice?

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