If you’re planning a trip to the Central American country of Nicaragua, perhaps you’re wondering whether you can bring your drone with you to take a few aerial shots of the stunning beaches and tropical forests.
Unfortunately, drones are not permitted in Nicaragua, and if you try to get one into the country, it will be confiscated at customs, at which point you will have to pay a fee for storage of the drone until you leave the country.
Are there any ways around this regulation? Let’s take a look.
Can you take a drone with you to Nicaragua?
If you are touring Central America with a drone, entering Nicaragua will pose a problem.
Drones are not permitted in Nicaragua, so if your travel plans include a route through Nicaragua while driving through Central America, it’s best to leave the drone at home.
Traveling by air
If you fly by airplane, you have to seek a permit and/or approval from the Nicaraguan government. However, the chances of getting a permit for your drone are slim.
If you travel with a drone and you don’t have a permit, it will be confiscated. Once seized, you will have to pay a storage fee until you pick up the drone from customs upon departure.
Drone use in Nicaragua
If you should happen to get a permit to bring and use your drone in Nicaragua (it won’t happen, but let’s hypothesize), here are the rules to follow:
- Drone use is prohibited above an altitude of 100 feet.
- It should never be in excess of 30 meters from the pilot or operator.
- You should never fly your drone in close proximity to military and civil helicopters or any international or domestic aviation.
Taking drone batteries on a plane
While you won’t be taking drones or presumably their batteries on a plane with you to Nicaragua, if you decide to visit a neighboring country that does allow drones, such as Costa Rica, here are some things to keep in mind.
If you are going to travel with a drone on an airplane, remember that the batteries should ideally be charged to a maximum of 30%.
Also, consult the regulations of the airline you are traveling with since the number of batteries allowed may vary. However, according to IATA (International Air Transport Association), a maximum of 2 spare batteries per passenger are allowed in carry-on baggage.
It is also indicated that they must be separated from the drone, individually protected to prevent short circuits and, if possible, in separate compartments.
Most airlines allow batteries of a maximum of 100Wh without the need for authorization, and 160Wh with express authorization. Batteries over 160Wh will not be accepted.
To give you an idea, the DJI Phantom 3 Professional has a 68Wh battery, and the DJI Phantom 4 Pro has an 89.2Wh battery. Under no circumstances may damaged batteries be transported.
» MORE: How to safely travel with drone batteries
How to easily transport a drone and all its accessories by plane
Except for what has just been mentioned about lithium batteries, the rest of the drone accessories, such as propellers, cables, filter kits, controls, memory cards, and landing mats … you can carry them without any issues, both in hand luggage and in checked baggage.
Despite this, a drone is still a fragile object, and one of the best ways to transport it properly when traveling by plane or in any other way is in a professional drone backpack.
There are specific ones for a model and brand; rigid, semi-rigid, waterproof, with compartments to also carry the professional photo camera, and with a wide price range.
Most backpacks, in addition to being valid as hand luggage according to their measurements, allow a drone to be transported on the plane in an orderly manner and protect it from possible shocks as well as changes in temperature, liquids, scratches, etc.
It is definitely something you should not skimp on if you want to comfortably move your drone from one place to another, as well as avoid any problems with such a special and valuable object.
Once at the destination, what do you need to know about flying your drone?
You must find out about the rules of drone flight in the country or area you are going to visit since some countries may be more permissive than others, or even in some, such as Nicaragua, it may be totally prohibited to fly them.
But in general, you should keep in mind that:
- The use of drones is restricted over airports, airfields, security zones, military zones, towns (authorization is usually required), groups of people, some national parks, and highly touristic areas… as well as night flights.
- There is often a wide difference in permissions when it comes to flying a drone for hobby or for commercial purposes.
What are drone regulations for some countries?
Each country is different, so it is best to do your research prior to traveling. Regarding drone regulations in some popular tourist destinations:
- In Europe, there are no unified regulations in force, although some countries do have regulations and an absolute prohibition of flying a drone at night.
- In the United States, it is necessary to register with the FAA ($5) and have accident insurance.
- In Brazil, it is also necessary to register on the ANATEL website and pay 200 Reals in advance.
- In Thailand, you must register the drone 2 months in advance, and have flight insurance and a certificate of not having committed a crime in the country.
- In Mexico, there are different regulations, depending on the weight of the drone.
- In Morocco, due to the anti-terrorist law, it is totally forbidden to fly a drone, and it is penalized with fines and even years in prison.
- In Ecuador, drones of up to $800 are allowed to enter without having to pay a high tax rate.