Drone Laws in South Africa

Flying drones in South Africa

Learn about the rules for using drones in South Africa in this post!

South Africa has pervasive regulations regarding drones. However, I have received information from the aviation authority that these rules apply only to local users. Nevertheless, I would stick to the given limits (altitude, distances, etc.).

Overview: Drone rules in South Africa

Recreational use of drones allowed? Yes, without further requirements
Commercial use of drones permitted? Yes, after registration or approval
Maximum Altitude:400 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?No.
Drone labels can be ordered here
Is a registration necessary? No.
Keep distance to airports
Respect the privacy of other people
Contact information

UAS Department at SACAA: [email protected]


Further rules in South Africa

In South Africa, private drones can not ascend higher than the highest obstacle within 300 meters.

For private drone flights, your copter must not be farther than 500 meters away from you. Drone flights are only allowed in daylight.

From a take-off weight of 7 kilograms, a permit from the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) is required.

There are a lot of requirements for commercial drone flights. Take a look at the link above. You will find further information in the right side column on that page.

Those who do not comply with the applicable laws must expect imprisonment of up to ten years and / or a fine of up to 50,000 Rand (about 3,550 euros).

In addition, the South African government has made it illegal to fish with the help of drones.

Safety distances and flight bans

At airports, a distance of 10 kilometers must be observed.

You must keep at least 50 meters between the drone and crowds or public roads. The same applies to private land unless you have permission from the owner.

Drones are prohibited in National Parks. We’ve already heard that cars in the Kruger National Park are checked at the entrance and drones may be confiscated.

We have researched the listed drone regulations for South Africa to the best of our knowledge. We cannot guarantee the correctness of the information. If you want to be on the safe side, 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 South Africa!

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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!


  • Esty | 08.02.2018

    Hello! I was wondering what you had to do at customs on arrival to South Africa. Do you need to declare your drone? Any paperwork? Was it difficult? Thank you!

  • Emanuel | 03.06.2018

    Yes, I have the same question.
    Do you had to do something at customs when you arrived? Anything they asked for?

  • Angeka | 19.06.2018

    Did anyone get an answer to the above questions? Also, where do you purchase drone insurance from?

  • Francis Markert | 02.07.2018

    Hi guys,
    As far as I know, you don’t need to declare your private drone with customs when you arrive.
    Best regards, Francis

  • Sego | 09.08.2018

    Thanks for the drone rules information in the various countries. Before I came across it, I have only ever had the drone rules for South Africa. I’ll refer people to your site for this information around the various countries.

  • Sego | 09.09.2018

    I have recently referred a domain owner to add a link to your website to their site, to replace a broken link they had. They appreciated me pointing out the broken link. I hope they’ll be pointing out to you soon. Once again, thanks for your articles about various countries drone regulations

    • Francis Markert | 26.10.2018

      Hi Sego,
      Cool, thank you very much for your feedback! 🙂

  • Chris | 01.07.2019

    Can you get special permission to fly larger drones? We are building a 4 ton drone … she do we approach?

  • Nanette | 30.03.2020

    I require clarity regarding flying of drones without a camera in complexes. We have a drone flying around and it is invading our privacy. The body corporate state they cannot do anything because a child is flying it and it does not have a camera.
    This is in direct contravention of the POPI act with or without a camera.
    What recourse may we institute

  • Ivan | 31.08.2020

    The overall rules are indeed helpful. It is interesting that for example in the US you just need to register your drone to the FAA and only cost 5 bucks. In SA if a normal person wants to earn some bucks need to get an astronaut license that is indeed completely discriminatory. Like somebody have to request permission to ATC to take off his/her DJI Spark when making, let’s say, a family video. They cannot put in the same category a Mavic Air with an Alta 6 or Matrice 600. These commercial rules are clearly made to frame their business and keep it away from the normal people. Good lobbying right there. Well done for the South African Professional Drone Association.

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