As Spain’s cosmopolitan capital, Barcelona attracts over 27 million visitors every year, according to tourism information on the area. Since Barcelona is such a beloved city, it’s natural to want to fly your drone here, but can you?
You can legally fly a drone in Barcelona, but the UAV must weigh under 25 kilograms, be registered, and the flight must be authorized by a local authority first. You also cannot fly over houses or in crowded areas.
There’s a lot of information we have to unpack ahead considering that flying a drone in Spain is a whole different animal than doing the same in the United States. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll be ready to use a drone in Barcelona!
Who is the governing drone body in Spain?
Once you leave the confines of the US, you and your drone are no longer under the jurisdiction of the Federal Aviation Administration or FAA.
International bodies govern different parts of the world like the FAA does. In the case of Spain, it’s the State Agency of Air Security or AESA.
We know, the acronym doesn’t quite match up, but that’s because the full name is the Agencia Estatal de Seguridad Aerea, which is AESA.
The AESA website is in Spanish. If you don’t speak the language, then understanding the drone rules sure can be difficult.
Fortunately, we’ll break down all the rules in an easy-to-understand manner throughout the rest of this article!
Are you legally allowed to fly a drone in Barcelona? All the flight rules
Per AESA, drone flight is allowed in Spain, and legally as well. That goes for Barcelona too, but you are required to follow a slew of rules before you can legally launch and fly your drone in this major Spanish city.
Let’s go over them now!
Your drone must weigh less than 25 kilograms
Like in the US, Spain has rules about the weight of drones that are legally allowed in its skies.
In the case of Barcelona and Spain as a whole, that weight limit is 25 kilograms. That’s approximately 55.12 pounds.
This rule should be easy enough to remember since the FAA in the US has rules about flying a drone that’s heavier than 55 pounds as well.
You must register your drone with AESA
In the US, the FAA only requires you to register drones of a certain weight (0.55 pounds and up). In Spain, AESA requires that all drones are registered through them.
You must get your drone registered ahead of flying in Barcelona, not afterward. To be on the safe side, carry the registration on your person in case you’re asked to produce it.
You need a license through AESA if your drone weighs more than 2 kilograms
Interestingly, AESA rules state that not all drone pilots in Spain need a valid license to fly.
That only applies if your UAV weighs 2 kilograms or over. Converted to pounds, that’s approximately 4.40 pounds.
When you registered your drone, you should have received an operator number.
You’ll need that operator number (which should be prominently displayed on your drone as well) as well as your registration certificate and a passport or ID to obtain your license.
Some Spanish regions require both a passport and ID, so make sure you have all the documents handy.
If you don’t need them, then you don’t need them, but you don’t want to go through all the trouble of getting a license and not have what’s required.
You need local authorization
You still can’t quite launch your drone in Barcelona yet.
It’s true you have all the documentation you need, but you also must obtain authorization from the local authorities before you fly.
If you don’t, then technically, what you’re doing is illegal, and you could be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
You cannot fly over residential property
Okay, so now you’re finally in the skies and it’s time to fly!
AESA, like the FAA, has strict rules about what you can and cannot do with a drone. So too does Barcelona have local drone laws in place which you must obey.
One of those rules is that you’re forbidden from using your drone around residential property.
You’re also not allowed to fly your drone over someone’s home, as Spain requires pilots to respect its citizens’ privacy.
You cannot fly in crowded areas
On your typical day in Barcelona with the average amount of human traffic, you can fly your drone. However, you must take heed if the area begins getting crowded.
During holidays, events, news coverage, or anything that draws a significant crowd, your drone cannot be there in the midst of all the action. AESA does not permit it.
You cannot fly near airports and other infrastructure
Local drone laws around Barcelona prohibit drone pilots from flying near critical infrastructure in the city such as airports, hospitals, and police stations.
You cannot fly higher than 120 meters
Barcelona drone flight laws restrict pilots on drone height as well. You cannot fly any higher than 120 meters.
That’s 393.7 feet, which is about in line with the 400-foot recommendation per the FAA back in the US.
If that rule is ingrained in you by now–and we would hope it would be–then you should have one less thing to worry about when flying your drone in Barcelona!
Drone flight rules in Spain
When operating your drone around Barcelona, you’re required to obey local (city) laws, country laws, and AESA federal laws.
The following rules for drone flights in Spain would apply when launching your UAV in Barcelona as well.
Urban flights are allowed at specific altitudes and drone weights
If your drone will remain under 20 meters or 65 feet in the air and the UAV weighs under 250 grams, then urban flights are permitted throughout Spain.
AESA permission is required before flying in national parks
Barcelona is such a varied experience, with greenery, stunning Spanish architecture, sports arenas, arts and culture, and so much more.
If you want to operate your drone in one of the city’s national parks or in parks throughout Spain, then you must have permission from AESA first.
If you intend to fly your drone in a part of a national park that’s a designated no-fly zone, then you need to go a step above AESA and reach out to the Spanish Ministry of Defense.
You’ll have to wait about a week to hear back from the Spanish Military of Defense whether your request is approved or not, so plan accordingly.
You must keep a reasonable distance from people and buildings
To reduce the risk of injury to passersby as well as lower the chances of potential property damage, drone pilots in Spain have to maintain a specified distance.
You must stay 50 meters or 164 feet from any person or people who aren’t involved in the operation of your drone. For those who are participating in your flight, you can fly closer to them.
As for the required distance from buildings, that’s 150 meters or 492 feet.
You must keep a reasonable distance from airports
As is the case when operating a drone in the US, Spain requires its pilots to stay away from airports.
When you have an approved flight that’s beyond your visual line of sight (BVLOS), then you must remain 15 kilometers or 9.3 miles from an airport.
When the airport is in uncontrolled airspace, you still can’t get too close. Your required distance is 8 kilometers or 5 miles from the closest airport.
Your identification plate must be on the remote and the drone itself
You’ll recall that when registering your drone in Spain through AESA that you’re given a registration number.
Besides that, you also need an identification plate on your drone as well as the remote. The registration plate must have your name, your drone serial number, your address, and your phone number.
The plate has to be fireproof as well.
You have to stay within the visual line of sight
Your visual line of sight–which is how far you can see the drone when looking at it with the naked eye or with corrective lenses such as glasses or contacts–is where your drone must stay when flying it in Spain.
If you go beyond the visual line of sight, then you’re breaking drone flight rules.
You will need a visual observer during any FPV flights. This observer should communicate with you and be another set of eyes to watch the drone.
You often cannot fly your drone at night
Most drones in Spain can only operate during daylight hours.
If your drone weighs under 2 kilograms, then you can fly at night, but only at an altitude of 50 meters or 164 feet.
Commercial pilots need liability insurance
In Spain as in the US, commercial drone pilots must have liability insurance before using their drones.
If you were hoping to fly a drone in Barcelona, good news, as you can. That said, it’s not as easy as scheduling a flight to Spain and launching your drone when you get there.
You need to register your drone, affix a sticker to it, add a fireproof nameplate, obtain a license if your drone is of a certain weight, and fly the drone according to AESA rules. Have fun and be safe out there!