🖐 In this blog post we’ll share all law links and known rules about recreational and commercial drone use in Japan (Tokyo & Osaka). Give a 👍 at the end of this post if you enjoyed it & feel free to ask any questions or share your experience in our Japan 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 Japan
Japan does not seem to differentiate commercial & recreational drone uses. Both are subject to local restrictions & a code of conduct.
✅ In Japan, drone laws falls under the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport & Tourism & they can also be contacted anytime via:
Phone: (+81) 3 5253 8111
📰 Update (10.01.19) The Japanese government is looking into introducing a registration system - keep me updated
Can I travel with my drone to Japan?
✅ Currently, there are no restrictions on bringing drones into Japan as long as your import is considered as legitimate (generally one drone per person).
👌 If you're a local & going overseas bringing back a drone with you, you might face an import duty fee if you do not have proof if was bought prior your Japan boarding time. So make sure to carry your receipt with you if you bought it ahead in Japan.
🚨 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.
Where can I fly my drone in Japan?
✅ Japan built an awesome interactive map which will help you know if you're in a restricted or forbidden zone to fly. (The only thing is that its in Japanese).
🚨 You should not fly above or 300 m near Japanese & US military/defense installations & strategic infrastructure. 🤑 A fine of 1/2 million yen & 1 year prison sanction is ready for for anyone trying to do such without permission in these places.
🛫 Fly away from airports & any aerodromes or airports in the country & avoid urban areas. It doesn't seem to be allowed to fly in Tokyo’s public parks & gardens fro example 🌲
🌲 National / Marine parks & reserves might be on a case by case permission & you might need to check directly with the local park or reserve authorities. 🐳
🚨 A temporary ban has been revised to forbid any drone flights near/close to the Rugby WorldCup & the Olympic Games' sights happening in Japan soon.
Recreational & Commercial Drone use in Japan
✅ Good things first, you will not need a permit or a license to fly a drone in Japan as long as you do not fly in a restricted or a forbidden zone.
Saying this, within the permitted zones, you will need to follow a few rules:
fly your drone at 150 m max altitude
fly your drone away from urban areas & crowds or events
fly your drone 30 m away from buildings, vehicles, people & respect privacy.
do not carry or drop anything from your drone whilst flying.
it is advised to subscribe to an insurance covering all risks.
fly within sight at all times, in daytime & during good weather only.
fly away from airports, heliports & give priority to all other categories of aircraft. If you see an aircraft during your flight, land immediately.
✅ For drones over 200 g, that you wish to fly within a restricted zone or outside the above rules you should register your drone upon local authorities prior taking off.
🚨 You should not have any alcohol in your blood system while flying your drone in Japan.
How to register my drone in Japan?
Complete this online form (in Japanese)
🕔 Nippon authorities require at least 10 working days to register your drone.
What do I risk for flying a drone illegally in Japan?
🚨 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. However the Nippon authorities specified that:
your fine for misbehaviour (e.g. plunging a drone towards others) could reach up to 500,000 yen.
if caught with alcohol in your system while flying a drone, you could face a year jail sentence and a fine up to 300,000 yen.
Once you've got everything in order, you can start flying above Japan's awesome landscapes and create videos like this one:
💡 You're a local, have a question or want to share a travel experience? Head to our Japan 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.
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TokyZebra (great description of the registration process).