I have been thinking about traveling to Paris and wondered if bringing my DJI Mavic 3 drone would be permissible. However, as much as I would love to capture the Eiffel Tower or Arc de Triomphe from 100m, I don’t want to at the expense of a hefty fine or incarceration.
And better yet, I want to know the limitations of bringing a drone to Paris. This article discusses the restrictions and rules on bringing a drone to Paris and how to do it legally.
Can I legally bring a drone to Paris?
A drone can be legally brought into France, and this means you can also bring it with you to the city of Paris. But flying the drone in Paris is a different issue.
Essentially, the entire metropolitan area of Paris has been declared a “No Fly Zone” with possible fines or detainment for infractions.
Always refer to the No Flight Zones in France map to identify restricted drone flight areas. In addition, to avoid imprisonment or possibly paying up to a €75,000 fine, it is advisable to adhere to the following laws:
- Respect the privacy of others when flying a drone
- Avoid flying drones over large crowds or people
- Drones must not fly over areas where aircraft are operating or airports (8km/5 mi radius)
- Drones should be flown only during daylight hours if weather conditions are good.
- Flying drones in areas like military or government facilities or using drone cameras in restricted areas are prohibited.
How to legally bring a drone through Customs to Paris
You can bring a drone to France with very little difficulty, but we must adhere to their drone laws before attempting to enter the country. However, we can take several steps to ensure compliance when entering France or Paris.
Tips on how to comply with drone laws in France
To ensure compliance with the laws of France for drones, these are some helpful tips on entry:
1. Do I have to register my drone?
When entering France or any other country, make sure and register the drone and follow the rules for the country visiting. If the country’s drone rules are ignored, it could lead to stiff fines, drone confiscation, or incarceration time.
2. What agencies do I need to register my drone with when visiting France?
Make sure and register the drone with the following agencies in France:
- European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) – Establishes rules for all operators of drones in countries comprising the European Union.
- French Civil Aviation Authority (FCAA) – Drone rules that apply only to drone operators in France require registration at Alpha Tango. The site will issue a unique ID upon registering, and it must be attached to the drone.
3. European Union registration exemptions for unmanned aircraft
There are some exemptions for registering certain types of unmanned aircraft in the EU, including:
- Any unmanned aircraft that qualifies as a toy per the interpretation Directive 2009/48/EC
- An unmanned aircraft weighing less than 250 grams and not equipped with a camera or other means of capturing personal data
- A control line aircraft with a takeoff weight of no more than 1 kg
Avoid penalties by understanding drone rules categories
Drone rules are grouped into three different categories. These categories include drones’ level of risks, weight, and intended method of operation.
The three categories for drone registration are:
1. Open category
Drones qualifying for the open category weigh 25kg or less and do not exceed flying at 120m. If the drone falls within these parameters, it does not have to be declared or have prior authorization since it falls within the low level of risk.
2. Specific category
Specific categories require authorization since they do not meet the open classification category and are considered moderate-level risks. In addition, this category requires a declaration to the FCAA if the planned operation falls under a standard scenario.
3. Certified category
This category is the most restrictive and requires a remote pilot license and a drone certificate based on the implied danger of the flight. The Certified category typically involves larger drones and is more challenging than the other categories.
Basic flying rules for drones in France
Once it has been decided on what category fits your drone flying, some basic rules exist. These rules include the following:
- If the drone is in the open category, fly the drone 50 meters above the ground, or 120 meters in the specific category.
- Be cautious of flying a drone in populated or residential areas, as disruptions may create repercussions.
- Maintain a 500-meter buffer zone from isolated animals, people, buildings, or other structures. If this isn’t possible, then make sure to have consent from individuals or owners.
- Have a one-kilometer buffer zone around residential areas.
- Keep the drone in constant eye contact within the 500-meter distance limitation.
- Maintain an eight-mile distance from airports or five miles for helicopter sites.
- Avoid flying drones at night, regardless of flight classifications.
- Avoid flying drones near military installations, archeological sites, or public facilities.
- When flying a drone for recreational purposes, never broadcast any aerial photos or videos without the subjects’ permission, and do not sell them for commercial use.
Specific Paris rules for flying drones
The Paris metropolitan area is designated as a No Fly Zone for drones. Anyone caught flying a drone can be punished with up to a €75,000 fine, confiscation of the drone, or imprisonment.
With such severe penalties, it is imperative to know the basic laws for flying drones in Paris and adhere to their rules and regulations.
A useful tool for reference is the Map of No Flight Zones in France if you are feeling adventurous.
There are some specific rules for flying drones in the environs of Paris, including:
- Avoid flying the drone over large crowds and people.
- Respect privacy when flying a drone.
- Avoid airports and areas of operating aircraft (five mile/8 km radius).
- Only fly in good weather during the day and keep the drone in view.
- Avoid flying around government, military, and other restricted facilities.
- Do not take photos or videos in restricted areas.
Register your drone with DGAC
You must register your drone with DGAC (French Civil Aviation Authority) to comply with Paris and France’s drone rules. Your information must be on file at DGAC before your drone can be registered with governing bodies.
To register with DGAC, you will have to provide the following information:
- Email address
All drones must have liability insurance
To comply with Paris drone laws, operators must have drone insurance.
Paris drone insurance requirements
- You must have insurance if your drone weighs over 800 grams (1.7 pounds). This rule applies to all drones, whether professional or toy drones.
- Insurance can be acquired from third parties or the drone manufacturer if available. There may be different levels and costs for coverage depending on the intended use and flying time.
- Before flying your drone, you must have insurance and carry proof of insurance while flying the drone. If requested, either by authorities or fellow drone pilots, you must show your insurance papers for proof of coverage.
Fly drones in daylight hours only
Except for some exceptions, you can only fly a drone during daylight hours. These exceptions include the following:
- Licensed pilots
- Those with special permits
- Model aircraft
- Commercial drones with an installed lighting system turned on
Maintain line of sight with the drone at all times
Drones are required to be flown within line of sight at all times. If your drone is out of sight, it can not be controlled and is, therefore, illegal in France and Paris. This rule also pertains to flying drones on cloudy days or around tall obstructions like office buildings.
It is illegal for any drone operator, including licensed pilots, to fly drones without having a clear view of the drone. In addition, flying drones out of visual range is unlawful unless the appropriate governing agency gives special permission.
Flying drones over people, public events, or urban areas is prohibited
When flying drones near Paris, it is crucial to understand applicable drone laws. With over 2 million citizens, Paris prohibits flying drones over groups of people or any urban areas.
In addition, flying drones over public events or demonstrations is illegal and forbidden due to security considerations. Any flights over public congregations or facilities without permission should be avoided.
Flying drones within eight kilometers of airports is strictly forbidden
Flying drones within eight kilometers of airports/heliports is forbidden and illegal. The exception is acquiring a special permit for flying within the eight-kilometer restriction. Also, it is required to keep in constant contact visually with the drone at all times.
To receive authorization, one must adhere to the following requirements:
- Not exceed 150 meters in height
- Stay within 500 meters of the drone
- Be within a maximum of 400 meters AGL (Above Ground Level)
- Not hovering over buildings or other infrastructure
It is prohibited to fly drones in restricted areas
It is illegal to fly drones in restricted areas without special permission or authorization.
To obtain authorization, email DGAC with the drones to be used, models, and serial numbers. In addition, include the following:
- Name and address
- Schedule of flights with dates and times
- People other than yourself who are involved with the intended flights
Flying a drone in Paris requires meeting a lot of rules
If you want to fly your drone in Paris, there are several regulations and rules you need to understand and follow first.
Among these rules is the prohibition of flying a drone above 120 meters (400 feet) without prior French authorization.
In addition, it is imperative to know the limitations of flying around airports and urban or public areas. The limits for each are:
- Airports – Do not fly within 50 meters without special authorization/permission.
- Public buildings – Do not fly within 150 meters of urban buildings or public access areas like museums.
- Unauthorized public gatherings – Do not fly over people without authorization to participate in the drone flight or any subsequent videos/photos.
Keep up to date on rules for flying drones in Paris
When visiting Paris, check for any rule changes or updates. As the rules are frequently changed, or new ones are introduced, we must be fully aware of current rules and regulations for flying drones in Paris and France.