Drone regulations in Sri Lanka

Flying drones in Sri Lanka

In this post, we have summarized the drone laws in Sri Lanka for you.

If you want to use your drone in Sri Lanka, you will have to go through some red tape and obtain several permits before entering the country.

You should follow the procedure below:

  1. Security clearance from the Ministry of Defence
  2. Registration with the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka/CAASL: All camera drones must be registered with CAASL in Sri Lanka and you must submit a permit for all planned flying locations.

We describe each step in detail below.

Department of Defense security clearance

First, you’ll need to register your drone with the Civil Aviation Authority.

First, you’ll need a Security Clearance, from the Office of the Chief of Defence Staff (OCDS). To do so, send all flight locations with date and details of the drone used by email to [email protected] or by fax (preferred means of communication) to +94 11 2 674507. You can download a template here.

CAASL will only issue permits for the relevant flight locations upon confirmation from the Ministry of Defense. Depending on the number of locations you request from the Defense Office, the processing time may take several days.

You may also need clearance from other agencies if you want to take off in protected areas. You will need to certify that they have no objection to your drone flights. For example, for archaeological sites (e.g. Sigiriya, Anuradhapura etc.) the Department of Archeology would be responsible, for national parks the Department of Wild Life and for forests the Forest Department.

SLCAA: Register and obtain permission

In Sri Lanka, you must register your drone and apply for a permit from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAASL) before launching a drone. You can find the forms provided for this on the CAASL website linked above. In the meantime, however, an online form is also available, which makes it quicker and easier to submit the application. There you can also upload proof of insurance and documents from other authorities (e.g. Security Clearance from the Ministry of Defense). If you want to upload more than two documents, you must bundle the documents into one or two files (e.g. as a contiguous PDF file).

In the approval process you have to specify all locations incl. flight times where you want to operate your drone. However, as a tourist, you usually have to get an idea of the exact locations and flight times on site, which can be difficult. However, several drone pilots have reported to us that the simple specification of a city and a time window of, for example, 6:30 am to 6:30 pm is accepted. This way, one can fill out the application based on one’s own itinerary.

Meanwhile, CAASL permits incur fees of about LKR 3,900 for a single permit or LKR 33,000 for longer permits of 30 days or more, with the fees depending on how many locations you’ve had approved. We haven’t had an update on these fees in a few years, though, so we’d appreciate more recent field reports in the comments.

Overview: Drone rules in Sri Lanka

Recreational use of drones allowed? Yes, after registration or approval
Commercial use of drones permitted? Yes, after registration or approval
Maximum Altitude:150 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
Contact information

Office of the Chief of Defence Staff:
Tel.: +94 11 2674503; +94 11 2674506
Fax: +94 11 2 674507 (Fax wird bevorzugt)
Email: [email protected]

Civil Aviation Authority:

  • Manager /Aircraft Accident & Incident Investigation
    Tel.: +94 11 2358817
    Fax: +94 11 2257154
    Email: [email protected]
  • Assistant Manager /Aircraft Accident & Incident Investigation
    TP: +94 11 2358819
    Fax: +94 11 2257154
    Email: [email protected]

Further enquiries: [email protected][email protected][email protected]

Additional regulations for drone pilots in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka divides drones into four categories based on weight:

  • A: 25 kilograms and above
  • B: more than 1 kilogram and under 25 kilograms
  • C: more than 200 grams and less than 1 kilogram
  • D: up to 200 grams

Drones in categories A,B and C have an age limit of 18 years. For them, you also need a sticker on which the registration number, passport number and contact information are clearly legible. Owners of these drones must also provide proof of liability insurance for the drone.

Drones weighing less than 200 grams (Category D) that are used for private purposes on private property or specially designated locations and are not equipped with a camera do not require a permit up to a flight altitude of 45 meters (150 feet). Note, however, that registration and permission are mandatory once the drone has a camera, no matter how much it weighs.

According to an enacted directive, for any drone flight with a camera (regardless of weight), in addition to the permits mentioned above, you’ll need the approval of the local police department that has jurisdiction over the area you’re flying over. However, CAASL does not indicate this fact and I am not sure if/how this provision is implemented in practice.

In Sri Lanka, your drone may only be operated within visual range. Drone flights at night require a separate permit from the CAASL. Nighttime by definition starts 20 minutes after sunset and ends 20 minutes before sunrise.

Commercial pilots require an additional permit from the CAASL.

Other flight bans apply:

  • In airspaces C, D and E
  • Urban areas
  • Crowds of people
  • Airfields (minimum distance of 8 kilometers)
  • Roads and railways
  • National parks (permission may be granted)
  • Archaeological sites (permission may be granted)
  • Residential properties without the consent of the tenants/owners

Special rules for drone flying in Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, drones are subject to a fairly low maximum flight altitude of 45 meters (150 feet) and a maximum speed of 87 knots (about 160 km/h). Even flights inside buildings must be approved by the CAASL.

In addition, piloting drones is prohibited if you are on a moving object (car, boat, etc.) or on an elevation (e.g. roof terrace). Do not fly over roads, rails, power lines or near radio towers. It is forbidden to control the drone under the influence of intoxicants. Obtain permission from the property owner when flying over private property.

Pay attention to signs marking “No Drone Zones.” They are often strictly enforced. Our readers have shared some of their experiences in the comments.

Note: When we were in Sri Lanka, there were no such provisions or no one knew something about them. So we did not have to go through this bureaucratic hurdle.

We have researched the listed drone regulations for Sri Lanka 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 or gain experiences with your copter in Sri Lanka!

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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

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  • Arset | 25.07.2020

    Was it confiscated at the airport? I’m thinking of traveling with my drone as well

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