Drone regulations in Sri Lanka
In this post, we have summarized the drone laws in Sri Lanka for you.
On January 18, the Sri Lankan government lifted the drone ban that was in force following the 2019 terrorist attacks. It has also announced that “drones can be operated in conformity with the normal civil aviation regulations in force.” You can find these further down in the article. At the same time, the government has announced new rules for drone pilots. When and how these come into force was not made clear in the announcement. However, there will be changes in the registration of some drone categories. The following key points were communicated:
- Flight bans are said to continue in dangerous and restricted regions.
- All civilian drone pilots must apply for approval from the Ministry of Defense.
- After clearance by the Ministry of Defense, pilots have to take their drone to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to register it in their database. A sticker will be issued for approved drones.
- Permission will only be given for the requested location, purpose and time.
Overview: Drone rules in Sri Lanka
Drone labels can be ordered here
Office of the Chief of Defence Staff:
Tel.: +94 11 2674503; +94 11 2674506
Fax: +94 11 2 674507 (Fax wird bevorzugt)
Civil Aviation Authority:
- Manager /Aircraft Accident & Incident Investigation
Tel.: +94 11 2358817
Fax: +94 11 2257154
- Assistant Manager /Aircraft Accident & Incident Investigation
TP: +94 11 2358819
Fax: +94 11 2257154
Our goal is to provide you with the best information for traveling with a camera drone! But the constant updating of the articles is very time-consuming. With your support we will be able to invest even more time and energy in this project.
Previous drone rules
These are the rules that were in force before the drone ban.
In Sri Lanka, you must apply for a permit from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) before using a copter. You can find the forms in English for this purpose on the CAA website linked above. The permit costs about 3,900 Rs for one operation and 33,000 Rs for an unlimited number of places for more than 30 days.
First, register your drone with the Civil Aviation Authority.
The CAA grants approval for the relevant airfields only after confirmation from the Department of Defense. Depending on how many locations you request, the processing time may be several days.
This means, in the next step you will need a “Security Clearance” from the Office of the Chief of Defense Staff (OCDS). To do so, send all the flight dates, locations and specifications of the drone you are using by e-mail to email@example.com or by fax (preferred means of communication) to +94 11 2 674507. You can download a template here.
If you want to fly in protected areas, you may also need approvals from other authorities. They need to certify that they have no objections. For example, the Department of Archeology would be responsible for archaeological sites, the Department of Wild Life for national parks, and the Forest Department for forests.
Once you have the documents from the OCDS and any other authorities, you should send them along with completed form CAA/AS/017 by e-mail to the CAA (contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com). This should be done at least 5 business days before you intend to start drone operations.
The CAA will now send you an invoice. Some of our readers have already done that and report that it is best to make the transfer directly at the bank in Sri Lanka. Once the CAA has a copy of the receipt, you should receive your approval letter very quickly.
Further regulations for drone pilots in Sri Lanka
Good to know: Sri Lanka has four drone categories, according to weight:
- A: over 25 kilograms
- B: 1 – 25 kilograms
- C: 200 grams – 1 kilogram
- D: less than 200 grams
For the operation of drones in categories A, B and C, there is an age limit of 18 years. They also have to be marked with their registration number, your passport number and contact information. Owners of these drones must have liability insurance.
Drones weighing less than 200 grams (Category D), which are used for private purposes on private land or designated areas and are not equipped with a camera, do not require a permit if they fly below 150 feet (45 meters). Note that registration and approval are required as soon as the drone has a camera, no matter how much it weighs.
In Sri Lanka, your drone may only be operated within visual line of sight. Drone flights at night require a separate approval from the CAA.
Keep the following safety distances:
- 100 meters to crowds
- 50 meters to people, vehicles and buildings
- 100 meters to congested areas (like cities)
- 5 miles (8 kilometers) to airports
Special rules for drone flying in Sri Lanka
Drones should not be faster than 87 knots (about 160 km/h). Flights within buildings must also be approved by the CAA.
In addition, operating drones is prohibited from a moving object (car, boat, etc.) or an elevation (such as a roof). Do not fly over roads, rails, power lines or near communication towers. It is forbidden to control the drone under the influence of intoxicants. Get the permission of the owner when flying over private grounds.
Be aware of signs that indicate “No Drone Zones”. There are often strict controls in these areas.
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!