Parts of a drone camera, signifying All that You Need to Know about Drone Permission in Sri Lanka
amateur and professional photographers are widely using drones to capture stunning shots since it can reach areas and shoot from angles that regular cameras never.

Excited to explore Sri Lanka any sooner? Interested in drone photography? Then, you should simply know about drone permission in Sri Lanka, since this land offers you many things to capture.

Let it be the golden shores, wildlife, waterfalls, festivals, the amazing cultural and religious attractions, or the day-to-day life of Sri Lankans! All of them extend to you wonderful possibilities to capture some unique shots, especially with the use of drones.

Yet, you might have several doubts about drone permission in Sri Lanka. Getting to know them before planning ahead is always beneficial.

Thus, we thought of sharing with you everything that you need to know with regard. Continue reading to get to know all about drone permission in Sri Lanka!

Can I Fly a Drone in Sri Lanka?

As stated by the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka (CAASL), flying drones in Sri Lanka is legal. But, before flying a drone, the importance of having a clear understanding of the rules and regulations that need to comply is very high.

Usually, to capture the aerial view of a certain area a drone with a camera is way more convenient. But, doing so is a great threat to the privacy and security of that area. 

The terrorist attack led by Islamic extremists on Easter Sunday, aiming at 3 churches and 3 luxury hotels in the commercial capital, Colombo in Sri Lanka made a milestone in the history of drone flying rules and regulations in Sri Lanka. Thus, the rules and regulations related to drone flying in Sri Lanka have been tightened and regulated after the Easter Sunday terrorist attack. However, enhancing the nation’s security is the main reason to update and upgrade these drone flying rules and regulations.

Legal Background for Using Drones in Sri Lanka

All the authority and responsibility regarding the rules and regulations of drone flying in Sri Lanka belong to the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka. Hence, issuing of permits and other legal documents for drone flying will be handled by this institute.

General Rules for Flying a Drone in Sri Lanka

Drones regardless of their mass with any attached data capturing sensors like cameras with the ability to imply any sort of security threat shouldn’t fly without prior permission from the police station in charge of that particular area. Yet, prior permission won’t be a must if the drone owner owns a written approval from the airport within the area or an authorized figure from the CAASL is supervising the drone flying.

Furthermore, drones can be categorized according to their mass as follows.

Mass > = 25kg (55lbs.)A
1kg (2.2lbs.) < Mass < 25kg (55lbs.)B
200g (0.44lbs.) < Mass < 1kg (2.2lbs.)C
Mass < = 200g (0.44lbs.)D
Drone Categorization according to the Mass

Thus, relevant authorities in Sri Lanka have acted on the following set of rules. They are based on flying drones considering their weight categories.

  1. Drones from categories A and B with attached data capturing sensors should register.
  2. Drones from category C without any attached data capturing sensors should register with a certified vendor.
  3. Category D drones without any attached data capturing sensors are not necessary to register.
  4. Drones shouldn’t exceed the speed of 87 knots (100 mph).
  5. The remote pilot should be able to maintain the Visual Sight of Line (VSOL) and stay in touch with the surrounding environment at all times.
  6. The drones shouldn’t operate during inclement weather conditions and the visibility should be equal to or greater than 5 km (3 miles). 
  7. One remote pilot should operate only one drone at a time.
  8. Operating drones from any moving platforms like moving vehicles, boats, etc. aren’t allowed.
  9. Remote pilots should give priority to all manned vehicles like aircraft and clear their path of flying.
  10. Drones shouldn’t operate at night, 20 minutes after the sunset or 20 minutes before the sun rises.
  11. Drones shouldn’t operate within the territorial waters of Sri Lanka without prior permission.

Drone Registration in Sri Lanka

Drone registration is a prerequisite when applying for drone operations in Sri Lanka. The drone registration can be done online via the website of the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka (CAASL). Similarly, anyone can perform the same task by downloading the CAA/AS/019 form from the website. Later, the properly filled application should be sent to the CAASL via email addresses [email protected] or [email protected]. Thus, conditions related to the registration of drones in Sri Lanka are as follows. 

  1. It is mandatory to acquire an unmanned aircraft registration certificate and renew it every 2 years to keep it valid. However, this does not affect the temporary certificates.
  2. The drone operators should have their registration certificate with themselves at all times while they operate the drones.
  3. Drones with attached data capturing sensors will be subjected to a particular inspection done by the CAASL before the registration.
  4. Drones that are not operable anymore and drones that will not be operated inside Sri Lanka anymore should be deregistered by informing the director-general of civil aviation. 

Pilot Registration in Sri Lanka

The people who operate the drones and who intend to operate drones should have to do the pilot registration from the Civil Aviation Authority in Sri Lanka. Similarly, the competency checks done by the CAASL or any other designated person or organization should be completed successfully. Later, the Civil Aviation Authority in Sri Lanka will issue a remote pilot authorization certificate on payment of a prescribed fee at the end.

Furthermore, the person who applies for pilot registration should be of age 18 years and above. If not, the person should obtain a written authorization from the director-general of civil aviation.

In the same way, it is mandatory to obtain the pilot authorization certificate to operate drones of categories A, B, and C. Thus, anyone should renew their certificate after every two years by paying the prescribed amount by the CAASL. However, any person who applies for a remote pilot other than a citizen of Sri Lanka will only grant a temporary registration by CAASL for a limited period of time with validity.

Besides, a person who operates drones in Sri Lanka should meet the following conditions.

  1. The person should have the ability to operate and maneuver the drone safely.
  2. Operators should maintain a good physical and mental health condition.
  3. The operator should not be under the influence of any alcohol or psychoactive substances.
  4. Operators should have a proper sense of social responsibility. 

Identification Stamp in Sri Lanka

Federal agencies and law enforcement can find the control station with the help of this identification stamp when a drone is flying in an unsafe manner or where it is prohibited. Similarly, drones of mass categories A, B, and C should have identification stamps in order to fly them anywhere inside the country. The director-general of civil aviation authority, a person or an organization authorized by him has the authority to issue these identification stamps.

Accordingly, the identification stamp of the drone includes the following.

  1. The registration number
  2. Owner’s national identity card number
  3. The owner’s emergency contact number

Commercial Operations in Sri Lanka

The civil aviation authority in Sri Lanka does not allow any commercial operations despite the mass category of drones inside Sri Lanka without a special authorization granted by the director-general of civil aviation. 

The Bottom Line

The reason why a country has set such regulations is for the betterment of the country’s security. Thus, as a responsible individual, you should certainly be mindful to use your drones in a way that doesn’t harm any party.

However, flying a drone in Sri Lanka, abiding by these rules and regulations is always important, in order to avoid unnecessary circumstances. Hence, we highly recommend you go through these drone permission regulations in Sri Lanka and contact the relevant authorities before flying them in any instance. Doing so will certainly help you grab the best drone experience in Sri Lanka, in the best way possible!