🖐 In this blog post we’ll share all law links & known rules about recreational & commercial drone use in Panama (Panama City). Give a 👍 at the end of this post if you enjoyed it & feel free to ask any questions or share your experience in the Panama 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 Panama
Panama differentiates commercial & recreational drone uses. Both are subject to restrictions & a strict code of conduct. Additionally, depending on the weight of your drone, different rules will apply.
✅ In Panama, drone regulations falls under the Directorate of Civil Aeronautics (PDCA) & can be contacted anytime via;
Phone: (+507) 501 9000
✅ The country additionally differentiates four drone weight classes:
below 250 g (micro)
between 250 g & 25 kg (small)
between 25 kg & 150 kg (light)
above 150 kg (heavy) - these are simply forbidden today.
Can I bring my drone to Panama?
✅ Currently, there doesn't seem to be any restrictions on bringing drones within Panama (Panama City) 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.
Where can I fly my drone in Panama?
✅ We did not find an official fly zone map for drones in Panama "If you have more information about this, please share it in the Forum". Thankfully, app.airmap.io has listed all flight zones in a convenient way.
Panama Drone Fly Map
🚨 You should not fly above or near military installations & strategic infrastructure. Fly away from airports & any aerodromes or airports in the country.
🦅 National parks & reserves could 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 Panama.
Recreational Drone use in Panama
🚨 You will not need a license to fly a drone for recreational use in Panama if your drone weights less than 250 g & as long as you keep your flight for a recreational purpose & in a non restricted area. However, for heavier drones or for any other purposes, you will need to register your drone & have a license to fly in Panama. The country's rules will differ based on the weight (category of your drone). Thus, more rules are added as the weight of your drone increases:
In all cases you should fly:
8 km away from airports & give priority to all other categories of aircraft. If you see an aircraft during your flight, land immediately.
away from areas where its use could interfere with police or first responders.
have an insurance covering your drone operations
only one drone at a time & only during day time.
take off/land at a distance greater than 30 m horizontally & 10 m vertically from anyone not involved with the drone's operation.
without transporting, towing or throwing anything from your drone
in good weather only, check the wind onsite with your own anometer.
If your drone weights less than 250 g, you should fly:
at a maximum altitude of 30 m
at 80% of your remote's radio maximum capacity
If your drone weights between 250 g & 25 kg, you should fly:
a registered drone only
at a maximum altitude of 61 m & always in sight
at 80% of your remote's radio maximum capacity
only if you obtained a license as a pilot.
If your drone weights between 25 kg & 150 kg, you should fly:
a registered drone & only if you obtained a license as a pilot.
at a maximum altitude of 122 m & always in sight or at a maximum of 500 m away from you (whichever comes first).
a drone that obtained an airworthiness certificate (this is the case for most popular drones on the market today but always double check).
at least 150 m away from any building, individual or infrastructure
at a maximum speed of 130 km/h 😅
avoiding any race or acrobatic formation flights
avoid any public congestion or events without a formal authorisation
💡 Good to know, any drone photo or video undertaken without the consent of its owner or manager will be considered as commercial drone use, therefore different rules will apply.
How to register my drone in Panama?
If your drone weights more than 250 g, you will need to register it with the Authoridad Aeronautica Civil AAC. The process has been made quite easy (if you speak Spanish) as you will simply need to complete this online form
To complete it, you will need:
your full personal details with a copy of your ID
your drone's full specs & technical information
a photo of your drone & a copy of your invoice/receipt of purchase
a copy of your pilot's license
a copy of your drone insurance
Once completed, search advice with the AAC of what to do in case the process has changed but according to our members, you should ask for the drone registration office when landing in Albrook Airport, hand in the document along the other ones required. Once done, you should receive a sticker to add onto your drone as ID & you're set to go. Ask your questions or for an update in the Forum.
🚨 To fly a drone for commercial use in Panama, you will need a pilot's license. It seems that if you hold a license from your own country, this one will be accepted based on online comments and forums.
What do I risk for flying a drone illegally in Panama?
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.
Once you got everything in order, you can start flying above Panama'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 Panama 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's your responsibility to seek advice from qualified local & relevant authorities for needed information about local drone rules and regulations.
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Resolucion n°120 (in Spanish)