Upgrade_your_drone.png

The Ultimate Guide to Costa Rica (San José) Drone Laws & Rules 2020

Updated: Feb 3

🖐 In this blog post we’ll share all law links and known rules about recreational and commercial drone use in Costa Rica (San José). Give a 👍 at the end of this post if you enjoyed it & feel free to ask any questions or share your experience in the Costa Rica Drone Discussion Group. 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 Costa Rica


Costa Rica differentiates commercial & recreational drone uses. However, both are subject to restrictions & a strict code of conduct. Additionally, depending on your drone's weight & your destination within the country, different rules will apply.


✅ In Costa Rica, drone laws falls under the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGAC) & they can be contacted anytime via:

✅ Costa Rica will differentiate your drone based on its weight:

  • less than 100 g = micro

  • between 100 g & 2 kg = small

  • between 2 kg & 25 kg = medium

  • between 25 kg & 150 kg = big


Can I bring my drone to Costa Rica?


✅ Currently, there doesn't seem to be any restrictions on bringing drones within Costa Rica or at San José & Liberia Airport as long as your import is considered as legitimate (generally one drone per person).


🚨 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.


💡 Smart! Get your drone batteries' firecase today and make sure you're complying with aviation safety rules.

NEW! Airlines & Drones' Best Practices!


Where can I fly my drone in Costa Rica?


✅ We did not find an official fly zone map for drones in Costa Rica "If you have more information about this, please share it in the Costa Rica Drone Discussion Group". Thankfully in the meantime, app.airmap.io has listed all flight zones in a convenient way organised in a 3 colour legend.


Costa Rica drone fly map

Source: app.airmap.io

🚨 You should not fly above or near military installations & strategic infrastructure. Fly away from airports & any aerodromes or airports in the country. Also Costa Rican authorities specified not to fly above these areas:

  • The Presidential House

  • The Ministry of public safety & any prisons or detention centres

  • Arenal Volcano 🗻 (having been there its a real shame but toucans are endangered so keep in mind wildlife protection 🐦)

  • La Palma Passage & Zurquí Tunnel

  • The Murciélago Police Training Center.


🦅 National parks & reserves might be on a case by case permission & you might need to check directly with the local park or reserve authorities.


💡 Smart! Pack some spare drone batteries, you never know how close is the next power plug overseas. Also make sure you have a travel adaptor for Costa Rica.

Recreational Drone Use in Costa Rica


✅ Good things first, you will not need to register or have a license to fly your drone in Costa Rica for recreational use as long as you do not fly within restricted or controlled airspace. This said, there rules while you're up there as you must fly:

  • label your drone with your personal details

  • at a maximum altitude of 120 m & within sight at all times.

  • only during daytime & in good weather only.

  • a drone that weights less than 25 kg (if heavier, you must register it first).

  • 30 m away from any building or infrastructure

  • it is advised to subscribe to an insurance covering all risks.

  • away from crowds or congested & urban areas

  • at least 8 km away from public airports & give way to all other type of aircraft.

  • away from areas where its use could interfere with police or first responders.

  • avoiding sensitive areas including government or military facilities.


💡 If you wish to fly outside any of the above guidelines, you can apply for almost any derogation via the Costa Rican Direccion General of Civil Aviation via this link.


✅ Costa Rica even made a little info-graphic to keep things a little easier for all 😍


NEW! Travel Guides from our experiences around the world!


Commercial Drone Use in Costa Rica


✅ First things first, to fly a drone for commercial purposes in Costa Rica you will need a license as an operator, an insurance & to register your drone with the Civil Aviation of Costa Rica before taking the country's skies.


How to register my drone in Costa Rica?


✅ First things first, to be eligible you will need to:

  • be at least 18 years young.

  • have a high school degree.

  • have a pilot's license or undertake courses.


✅ To register your drone, Costa Rica made it easy for anyone to register their drone as you will simply need to join this online platform.


🤑 This information is unverified but a member reported the registration costs to be about $1,800 but this is valid for lifetime.


💡 Smart! Heading to the coast? Water glare is a killer when flying above Costa Rican coastal waters, make sure you have a lens filter before heading there.

How to obtain my license to become a professional UAV pilot in Costa Rica?


💡 Today, only 7 companies/operators are registered and accredited to fly for commercial purposes in Costa Rica. Note that commercial pilot will need:

  • a certificate issued by the Technical Council of Civil Aviation.

  • an operational certificate issued by the Civil Aviation Authority.

  • to undertake a theoretical test.

  • have at least 10 h of practical flying hours.

  • have a medical certifcate from a DGAC doctor less than 5 years old if you are under 40 (less than 2 years old for 40+ pilots).

🌏 If you hold a license from overseas, this one should be recognised.


NEW! Drone Reviews!


What do I risk for flying a drone illegally in Costa Rica?


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 authorities have specified the fine amount could reach up to 20 times the base salary in Costa Rica (about 600€/month).


Once you've got everything in order, you can start flying above Costa Rica's awesome landscapes and create videos like this one:


🎬 INSPIRING! Follow our aerial videos around the world on Youtube!


🌍 TRAVELLING FURTHER? Check out our Drone Rules World Map; country by country!

✅ Please leave a comment when you receive news and/or gain experience with your drone in the Costa Rica! Have fun and safe flight! #costa #rica #costarican #rican #costarica #regulation #rule #rules #law #laws #legislation


💡 You're a local, have a question or want to share a travel experience? Head to our Costa Rica Drone Discussion Group


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.


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links meaning we will get a commission if you decide to purchase via them. This has no costs for you but helps Dronemade stay free for all. If you need to buy anything on Amazon or DJI stores, think of us.


Sources

Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) of Costa Rica

Directiva Operational DO-001-OPS-RPAS


Other resources

Costa Rica drone fly map

Register your drone in Costa Rica

Restrictions and limitations to use a drone in Costa Rica

734 views