Drone regulations in Thailand (2020)

If you want to fly a drone in Thailand, you will have to take some hurdles. In this article, I explain to you the conditions you have to fulfill.

In recent years, the rules for drone pilots in Thailand have changed quite often. This creates a lot of confusion and not all the information you can find on the internet is up to date. I am trying to give you a current and complete overview of the legal situation in the Kingdom.

First of all, if you are caught drone-flying without the necessary permits, you face high fines and even imprisonment. Thai prisons are not fun!

For most camera drones, you need two registrations: First, from the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), which handles the frequencies used by the drone. Second, by the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT), which registers all drone pilots.

So far it is not possible to complete the registrations before going to Thailand. This means you will need some luck to get your documents in time. In the following I explain to you how the procedures at NBTC and CAAT work.

Overview: Drone rules in Thailand

Recreational use of drones allowed? Yes, after registration or approval
Commercial use of drones permitted? Yes, after registration or approval
Maximum Altitude:90 Meter (295,3 Foot) 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? Yes.
Keep distance to airports
Respect the privacy of other people
Contact information

CAAT: 0066 (0) 2568 8815

[email protected]

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Registration of drones in Thailand

In total, you need three documents to fly legally in Thailand: drone insurance, NBTC registration and CAAT registration. You should have these documents with you during all drone flights.

Get insurance

The insurance confirmation should be in English and contain the following data:

  • full name of the policyholder
  • brand, model, serial number and weight of the insured drone(s)
  • validity in Thailand must be clear
  • insurance coverage of at least THB 1 million (approx. EUR 30,000)

Register with the NBTC

Registration can be done easily at one of the NBTC offices and may only take 10-15 minutes. You have to appear there personally but don’t need an appointment. The approval granted is valid for the same duration as your visa, but our readers have pointed out that, even for permanent residents, the approval is only valid for up to 90 days. Whenever you re-enter the country, you will need a new permit from the NBTC.

You can prepare the following documents for your visit to the NBTC:

  • signed copy of your passport and entry stamp
  • proof of address in Thailand (e.g. booking confirmation from the hotel)
  • photos of the drone, the controller and the respective serial numbers

Once there, you will receive forms to fill out, which are also available online. As far as we know, it’s this document, but you should make sure that it is still up to date. In any case, you can use it to prepare the technical data for your drone. You don’t have to take the drone to the NBTC!

If you fail to register with the NBTC and are caught by the police, you could face up to five years in prison or a fine of 100,000 THB (approx. 3,000 euros).

Register with the CAAT

You have to register your drone with the CAAT if it has a camera/recording equipment or – if it does not have recording equipment – weighs more than 2 kg.

You can only register with the CAAT once you have the approval of the NBTC. Since summer 2018, registration has been possible via the online platform uav.caat.or.th.

The relevant fields have been translated into English so that you should be able to fill out the forms quite easily. You will have to provide a lot of personal information during the process. In addition, you have to upload a signed self-declaration, a picture of the drone with the serial number on it and proof of your drone insurance. In addition, the CAAT requires a copy of your passport with the entry stamp. Several of our readers received rejections due to the lack of proof of entry. This means that you can only register once you have already entered the country.

After you have submitted the complete documents, the CAAT will check your application and carry out a background check with several security authorities to ensure that you have not yet committed any legal violations in Thailand. Since this can be very time-consuming, you have to expect a long processing time. The CAAT writes on its website that you will receive a notification within 15 working days. In practice, it can be shorter, but it can also take much longer. The good news is that if your registration was successful, it is valid for two years.

If you are caught flying without CAAT registration, you face up to 1 year imprisonment and / or 40,000 THB penalty (approx. 1,200 euros).

Frequently asked questions about drone rules in Thailand

I would like to answer the questions most commonly asked in the comments here:

  1. Do I have to register my DJI Spark / DJI Mavic Pro / … for my Thailand vacation?
    Yes, because these drones have a camera. You can find more information above.
  2. I am only visiting Thailand in transit and do not want to start my drone in the country. Can I get in trouble if I have no registration?
    There should be no problems. Customs are not interested in drones, and the registrations are only required for the operation of unmanned aerial vehicles. However, there may be issues if the authorities get the impression that you want to resell the drone in Thailand (for example, if you import the drone in its original sealed packaging).
  3. I am flying to Thailand in a few weeks/days and would like to take my drone with me. Now I have read that I have to register. What can I do now?
    You should take out drone liability insurance and collect the above documents. At the moment you can only register if you are already in Thailand. But keep in mind that processing your application can take weeks and you may not receive your permits in time if you are in the country for only a short vacation.
  4. How long does it take to register with the CAAT?
    This varies and also seems to depend on the number of current applications. You can avoid a very long processing time by submitting all documents on time. Please keep in mind that processing at CAAT will only begin once you have approval from the NBTC.

Further regulations for operating multicopters in Thailand

After you have successfully registered yourself and your drone, there are of course other rules to follow

If you want to fly privately and no camera is mounted on your drone, the maximum take-off weight is 2 kg. With a higher weight you need approval from the CAAT. Drones weighing 25 kilograms or more need a separate permit from the Ministry of Transport.

Commercial pilots need permission for their flight maneuvers.

Safety distances and flight bans

You have to keep a distance of 9 kilometers (= 5 miles) to airports.

You can’t get closer than 50 meters to people, vehicles and buildings.

You must not fly near crowds of people. Flying over cities and villages is not allowed. Also avoid government buildings and hospitals.

You must always obtain permission from the property owner to take off and land. In practice, we usually solve this by asking the guards for permission or by asking at the information desk.

Your drone must always be kept within visual line of sight.

Drone flights are only allowed in daylight in Thailand, i.e. between sunrise and sunset.

The Thai rules also stipulate that you have an emergency plan. This includes having to carry a fire extinguisher with you. We have not yet found out whether this rule is enforced.

Good to know: Flights in Chiang Mai must be generally approved by air traffic control because the airport is so close to the city. We have obtained the appropriate permission. But you should call a few days before so that the people in the tower can coordinate with their bosses. Also, for flights over the historic park of Ayutthaya, approval is necessary. The Historical Park Office grants the permission, which is open daily from 8:30 to 16:30. According to the tourist information, the permit costs 5,000 baht.

We have researched the listed drone regulations for Thailand 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 Thai aviation authority. Alternatively, you can also ask the Thai 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 Thailand!

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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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  • SHUHAD | 12.12.2018

    Hi Guys,
    I’m in BKK for 2 days on the 6th Jan 2019. I won’t be using the drone, do I need to apply and do you think I should take it or is it with me or is it too late?? Please help, thanks

    • Keith Sickelmore | 14.12.2018

      Technically you need an important licence as you are importing goods that can broadcast a radio singnal and by Thai law you have to get permission. So customs could confiscate your drone. Having said all that, I have never been asked to produce my NBTC licence and I have had my bags checked twice and they have seen the drone, so you should be ok.

  • Chris | 17.12.2018

    Yikes. Reading this thread and all the various drone law websites that have information on Thailand makes me think it’s just not worth the risk or the headache. It’s such a shame that from a drone perspective, Thailand is such a difficult country to fly in.

    I will be traveling there in May, but I can’t help but worry that even if I go through all the hassle of getting multiple permits, insurance, and permission — I still risk somehow losing it at customs or while flying. Had I known this earlier, I would skip Thailand and choose different SE Asian countries that are more drone friendly.

  • Bryce Li | 18.12.2018

    Do I have to register the twllo drone in Thailand? Insurance for a inexpensive drone like tello will cost multiple times more than its value

  • Sam | 31.12.2018

    If drone is less than 2kg you do not need to register and you do not need insurance, but there is still rules that you have yo follow for start in bangkok no fly zone 19km radios from the king palace .
    Plus u need to make sure not fly as close as 30m from ppl

    • DULEROY | 04.01.2019

      Hello !
      Please landing Sir
      Ah Ah
      Every bodies know if you have Camera shall be registred under 2 kg all drone as par CAAT information !!!!

    • David | 04.01.2019

      Where did you get your information from?

    • Kim René Bjerre Leth | 08.01.2019

      not correct, you have to registrate all drone with camera, and insurence on english, on min 1 mill, but you have that in house insurence

  • Azuolas | 16.01.2019

    It’s possible that they blocks drone signal? Because when I turn on phantom 3 advanced it connects to transmitter and after few seconds disconnecting. I have same issue every time I try to operate it.

    • Sir Maxwell Greene | 23.01.2019

      Not likely- depends on where you are? I know there are a few places in Bangkok that is restricted by signal. I have tried to launch at a few places and am unable to connect due to some blocking device.

  • J.Ma | 16.03.2019

    Hello,

    Within 3 months I have prepared a 2 month trip through Southeast Asia, my port of entry is Bangkok, where I spent 4 days before flying to Laos. I would like to know if there is any kind of problem to enter Bangkok with the drone, and if I need a requirement that is met despite not wanting to fly it in Thailand. Thank you very much for the information!

  • jack schuitemaker | 30.03.2019

    i will regristration rc drone

  • oriol | 12.04.2019

    Hello, I’m going to thailand in 2 weeks for 1 week with my dron but I’m not interested to use in this country. I need the permissions to enter my dron in the country or I shouldn’t have problems if I’m not interested in use?

  • Dany | 19.04.2019

    Hi Francis!
    Thank you for all the info!
    1- I’m planning to visit Thailand end of May or Beginning June this year. Do you think that the process for obtaining the approval from the Thai concerned authorities is shorter now?
    2- In fact, I will be flying from Japan to Europe via Thailand, and in case I will not get the Thai approval on time, I will not use my drone in Thailand (I have a DJI Mavic Air). Even I will stay a few days in Thailand and I will not use my drone, do you think they will confiscate it at the airport?

  • Lasse Kaila | 30.04.2019

    Note to those who try to register drones in Thailand:
    I went through this process, it was quite tedious. 1) register drone with the NTBC. This was fairly straightforward, but the southern department in Nakhon Si Thammarat were quite lost as my drone was not purchased in Thailand, they were insisting on import documents and local registration documents. However after directing them to discuss with the Bangkok office everything was OK. 2) Insurance, this cost about 20€ and covers the necessary amount. I got mine from JP insurance as they have done drone insurance before. Quite a lot of documents were needed for this, including house registration (tabien baan). 3) The final step was to register the pilot at CAAT. The website states that processing would be done in 15 days. Mine has now taken over 2 months and was not finisihed in time for my trip. My wife called them numerous times, it seems the approval and everything is OK but the document is pending the signature by some official and thus not 100% completed. Apparently they have a backlog from somewhere in January 2019 and despite our requests they never got the needed signature. Thus I was not able to fly my drone at all during my 3 week trip, quite disappointing.

    • SPREX64 | 30.04.2019

      Hello !
      You are not Alien resident ( long stay visa or citizen in thailand ….
      You have to be registrated to the Bore-Dopa
      if not ! …. you will wait long time… long time
      I can say that because I have my license on year ago
      CAAt ask me to many others privates documents to prove my situation in the kingdom ……
      Note : You say 20 euros insurance Oups !!
      The courante price is 4500 bahts ( around 125 euros) minimum for 1 Million and insurance company must be registrated in Thailand co.th …
      I product my proper tabien ban TS 4 ( yelow color) and ID card 13 Digit national civil registration Thai and added visa long stay OA ready running 6 years …..
      Good look

      • Lasse Kaila | 30.04.2019

        @SPREX64 Thanks for your comments. My wife is a Thai resident so most papers, where applicable, were done in her name. However, the whole equation from a visitor’s point of view is almost impossible, you’d have to reserve at least half a year for processing and still have no guarantee of success. This just results in people ignoring the whole thing. Already during the process you’d need to be in the country (for applying for the insurance, for instance), they ask for your visa number (which you can’t possibly have at the time, especially if you get a 30-day visa on entry) and many officials complained that they can’t find the drone serial number in the Thai drone import list (of course, since it’s abroad) and so on.

        Insurance company was this one: http://www.jpinsurance.co.th and I remembered the fee incorrectly, sorry about that, it was 1690 THB for 1M insurance for 30 day duration.

        So in the end everything else was OK except for the final approving signature @ CAAT.

  • SPREX64 | 01.05.2019

    Hello,
    Confusion, your wife absolutely can not be involved in the registration process. It seems that you are not a long stay resident in Thailand so you will not get a CAAT license. Registration at NTBC is an obligation if you hold a drone even if you do not fly this is valid for tourists with visa or under exemption w30
    All radio frequency control equipment must be declared in Thailand and not only drones ….
    In short it’s been months that people talk about getting and waiting for their license after doing the registration process without understanding that they will not receive it for the moment ….
    It comes from the Chief of Staff of the Air Force who fiercely opposes it but hey I will not go into details ….

    The Thai authority does not want to communicate on this point because it is a sensitive subject in terms of business and international relations
    For the moment it will be understood that the authority grants the license only foreign people (Alien) who are really residents in Thailand like me.
    To this day, it is not for the others that you have a Thai national wife or not it has absolutely nothing to see …

    To convince you, here is my license that’s why it’s been months that I intervene on this forum without anyone commenting or asking relevant questions I’m really surprised …
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/cdhx5cwxlzb0oaj/No%20ID%20NAME%20Courrier%20officiel%20CAAT%20attribution%20license%20de%20vol%20drone.pdf?dl=0

    It seems that most people have not understood or do not want to understand the situation …….
    I also put you a movie that I did with a derogation in zone no flight VTD red according to the AIP ENR 5.1 card which leads the zones of flight authorized or not in the presence of a governor of Province and quite a lot of others regional authorities …
    Remember the drone fly is prohibited in Thailand
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/c0qjojkrakv9l65/Compile%20projet%20vol%20big%20bouddha%209%20mars%202019.mp4?dl=0
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/ji5elxews0ze560/AIP%20NER%205.1%20NO%20DRONE%20FLY%20AREAS%20THAILAND.AVI?dl=0

    Note that I am not professional and do not monetize my videos, they are intended for the Thais community no more ….
    AIP NER 5.1 CAAT drone flight Map
    On this subject no one seems to know or master this card which has been issued contractually by the CAAT as in many OECD countries and in the world ……
    I even made a movie of all the forbidden zones nobody commented or asked questions for people who want to make the drone it is very disturbing ……

    This map is legal and legally recognized internationally. In case of incident or accident the insurer will automatically check if the area is not prohibited (confirmed by my insurance)
    I am surprised that people who claim to want to fly a drone do not know the existence
    Which gives reason to the Thai authority not to make an effort to relocate the licenses of flight for the moment …

    On this forum many people give advice and recommendations without having received a license is pretty amazing ….

  • ZAZA | 14.06.2019

    Hey, can you clarify on new DJI Tello? Cause Im planning to go for honeymoon and have some moments recorded in Phuket. Can you help?

  • Shaky Traveler | 28.06.2019

    I’m not sure what you are asking. If you would like to fly the Tello in Thailand, then you need to get approvalsfrom CAAT and insurance. If it has a CAMERA you have to get approvals and insurance. The Tello has a camera.

  • Paul | 08.07.2019

    I’m in Pattaya at the Intercontinental Hotel right now. It’s on the beach. I just went around the corner and found a fairly quiet and flat place in a rather secluded area. Was on my second battery and 4 security guards came litterally running up and gave me the riot act. They were pissed it was taking the drone so long to get back to shore (I was trying to get to an offshore island. They wanted to see my video and I told them I would need a computer to see it. An actual Thai cop showed up and escorted me back to my hotel. I guess I was lucky. I think they’re more worried about guest privacy (especially in Pattaya, lol). My bad for not checking ahead of time.

  • Ryan L | 08.07.2019

    Hello,

    Just wanted to give my experience. I just got back from Thailand and was on Koh Lipe at the end of May 2019, was the only place I thought I would try flying.

    I stayed on the far north of sunrise beach and it was a very quiet area. I spoke with the hotel receptionists about flying and they were pretty enthusiastic about me flying and said no one there will have problems.

    I was there for a week and I flew my Mavic Air just about every day with no issues. To be honest there was really no one there while flying to even bother. Met another guy while there and he had a spark, and flew with no issues either.

    I only flew while on Koh Lipe and did not try or ask anywhere else while in Thailand. I cant say someones experience will be the same and also am not saying this is the legal way to go about flying in Thailand, but at least for Koh Lipe this was my experience and my 4k shots are epic!

    • Ryan L | 08.07.2019

      Forgot to explicitly mention I did not register anywhere or even try to. I don’t have insurance. I had no issues entering / leaving the country, no one stopped me at customs or even attempted to. I don’t even think anyone saw me flying.

      Like I said, this was just my experience. Koh Lipe also seems to a bit more different than the rest of Thailand… For one, you can buy Alcohol in the stores at anytime where the rest of thailand has strict time restrictions, besides 7-11, they still follow the law.

      Overall was an amazing experience, would highly recommend a trip down to Koh Lipe.

  • Arun C | 21.08.2019

    Hi, I have got my insurance, applied to NBTC and just applied to CAAT. I’m from the UK and we can remain in Thailand for 30 days without needing a Visa. I attached a copy of my passport to my application but I read somewhere else that even though I don’t need a Visa for my trip (we’re only in Thailand for two weeks) that I would need to apply for a Visa so that the CAAT can check that I don’t have a criminal record etc. It’s August now and we are going to Thailand in December. Have you heard if a Visa is mandatory to get the CAAT license or is an EU passport ok? Thanks, Arun

  • Jairo | 13.11.2019

    Hi! Thanks for all the info 😀 Im flying to Thailand and I won’t fly my drone there. I need any permit if I travel with a drone to Thailand but without using it? THANKS!

  • Kennis | 05.03.2020

    Hi guys, i am going to Thailand with a DJI Mavic 2 pro. just wonder where I can get a drone insurance?

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