🖐 In this blog post we’ll share all drone law links & known rules about recreational & commercial drone laws in Bhutan (Thimphu & Paro). Give a 👍 at the end of this post if you enjoyed it & feel free to ask any questions or share your experience in The Forum. Keep in mind that the content below is updated to the best of our ability & does not replace official sources & your own research.
Recreational vs commercial drone use in Bhutan
Bhutan does not differentiate commercial & recreational drone uses. Both uses are strictly forbidden, however for commercial purposes, you might be lucky by asking for permission by contacting the local relevant authorities.
🚨 For the moment, drone use is under the responsibility of the Bhutanese Civil Aviation Authority (BCAA), they can be contacted via:
Phone: (+975) 08 271347
🚨 Unfortunately the Bhutan Civil Aviation Authorities published in June 2017 a note confirming drones are reserved for government purposes solely. From here, any drone imported or use in the country, can be ceased if not authorised by local authorities prior arrival.
Can I bring my drone in Bhutan?
🚨 Unless you have a Bhutanese permit issued by the BCAA, you will not be able to bring your drone in Bhutan. Paro airport customs are infamous for their bag checks and it seems hard to go through without being asked to open them. A few people mentioned they were able to pass, despite having their bag under x-ray & fly but be aware that upon return there is a very little chance that your drone passes again the on boarding x-rays. In both scenarios your drone gets found:
upon arrival, it will be confiscated if you do not have a permit with you prior landing.
upon departure (from Paro), it will be ceased & you might face heavier sanctions as you imported illegally a drone in the county.
📰 A recent update in 2019 confirms the arrest of a drone pilot in Bhutan who didn't seem to be aware of local drone regulations and the effective ban for non governmental agencies.
🚨 Be aware of the airline you purchase to travel as some main ones will only accept your drone on-board if its batteries are detached & placed in a firecase during travel time. Most airlines will have a battery voltage limit based on the recommendation of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). You can find more info about a specific airline here.
How to obtain a permit to fly my drone in Bhutan?
🚨 We've contacted local authorities to ask more about the process as it remains unclear for the moment but their answer as well as their entire site is down for the moment... If you have any further information, please feel free to share it in the Forum so we can update this post in turn for all to know.
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What do I risk for flying a drone illegally in Bhutan?
The amount & scope of the fine will depend on the nature & severity of your infraction. The judges will also evaluate if you intentionally committed the infraction and/or if you had any commercial purposes to do such. However, local authorities have specified that you will risk one or several of the following:
a fine ranging between 20,000 (US$280) & 50,000 (US$700)
the cease of your drone
✅ Please leave a comment or tell The Forum when you receive news and/or gain experience with your drone in Bhutan!
Disclaimer: Although great care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information researched, we take no responsibility for any loss, harm or damage caused as a direct or indirect consequence of relying on this information. It is your responsibility to seek advice from qualified local & relevant authorities for needed information about local drone regulations.