🖐 In this blog post we’ll share all law links and known rules about recreational and commercial drone use in South Africa (Johannesburg & Cape Town). 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 South Africa
South Africa differentiates between commercial & recreational drone usage - see our post to differentiate recreational vs commercial drone usage. Both are subject to restrictions and a code of conduct.
✅ In South Africa, drone regulations falls under the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA). They have two contact offices (one in Johannesburg in the North & one in Cape Town in the South) with different contact details:
To contact the Civil Aviation Authority Office of Johannesburg (North)
Phone: (+27) 011 545 1000 (Mon 9 am - 4.30 pm & Tue-Fri 8 am - 4.30 pm).
Mail: Ikhaya Lokundiza, Building 16, Treur Close, Waterfall Park, Bekker Street, Midrand, South Africa.
To contact the Civil Aviation Authority Office of Cape Town (South)
Phone: (+27) 021 934 4744 (Mon 9 am - 4.30 pm & Tue-Fri 8 am - 4.30 pm).
Mail: North Wing, 2nd Floor, Airport Office Park, Freight Road, Cape Town International Airport, South Africa.
Can I bring my drone to South Africa?
✅ Currently, there doesn't seem to be any restrictions on bringing drones into South Africa 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 South African boarding time. So make sure to carry your receipt with you.
🚨 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.
Where can I fly my drone in South Africa?
✅ We did not find an official fly zone map for drones in South Africa "If you have more information about this, please let us know anytime". Thankfully, app.airmap.io has listed all flight zones in a convenient way organised in a 3 color legend.
Drone Fly Map South Africa
✅ We've also been told that an awesome personal initiative was done to create a no fly zone drone map in South Africa via Google Maps which you can find here. This awesome map lists all national parks, airports, power points & national keypoints where you might need some kind of permission prior taking off your drone. "We love it!" 😍
🚨 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 are on a case by case permission & you need to check directly with the local park or reserve authorities. We are aware that drone use is forbidden in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park - see here. To apply for a permission to fly in a national park in South Africa, simply complete this online form & return it to South African National Parks.
Recreational Drone use in South Africa
✅ Good things first, you will not need a permit or a license to fly your drone for recreational purposes in South Africa 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 during daylight at a maximum altitude of 46 m & 500 m max from you.
fly your drone 50 m away from property, roads, people & respect individuals' privacy.
fly a drone weighting less than 7 kg
fly 10 km away from airports, heliports & give priority to all other categories of aircraft. If you see an aircraft during your flight, land immediately.
Commercial Drone use in South Africa
✅ By law, South Africa defines commercial drone use as any flight for business-related purposes (we understand; making 💲 or not). If this applies to you, you will need a license as a drone pilot & to register your drone before being able to undertake any flight for commercial purposes.
🌏 If you hold a foreigner drone pilot license or completed theoretical exam, you may be able to make it approved & validated; contact firstname.lastname@example.org
✅ But first things first, to be eligible you will need to:
be at least 18 years of age
have a recent medical assessment report showing your good health.
have an English Language Proficiency (ELP) level 4 or higher.
How to obtain my drone license in South Africa?
To obtain your drone license in South Africa, you will need to contact a registered training organisation within the country. (💡 Ensure yourself that your instructor holds a flight instructor rating less than 12 months old upon your 'graduation day' as they need to renew it each year for your license to be valid be valid).
The license has 2 parts:
A theory & practical exam to learn all about the rules up there (TGM Part 101 & SA-CATS 101); to be valid, these 2 parts need to be undertaken by a certified & registered training organisation. 🏆 Score 75% good answers & the license is yours!
Once you've got all this, you can certify your license by sending this form with 30 days to: South African Civil Aviation Authority, Licensing Department, Private Bag X73 Halfway House, 1685 (include in your letter; your test results, a motivation letter, a resume (CV), & a proof of payment of your course fees).
✅ Your license will be valid for 2 calendar year, starting from the date of certification. Once the 24 months passed, you will need to complete this form if you wish to renew it.
💲 Count about 60€ for the certification bit, the examination undertaken in registered training organisations will vary according to the one you choose (expect around 1,500€).
💡 You might need a drone insurance for your business, in our research we stumbled upon this useful link which is said to be only drone third party insurance provider in South Africa.
How to register my drone in South Africa?
✅ One simple step is required here, simply complete the Form CA-47R1 and send it to: SA Civil Aviation Authority, Aircraft Registry, Ikhaya Lokundiza, Building 16, Treur Close, Waterfall Park, Bekker Street, Midrand, OR mailed by registered mail to Private Bag X73, Halfway House 1685.
🚨 Note that if your commercial registered drone is sold, lost, exported or destroyed, you will need to inform contact SACAA and complete the corresponding forms:
Form CA-47R2 - if sold
Form CA-47R3 - if lost, destroyed or exported
Form CA-47R4 - if you change you company registered details.
In case of doubt or further information needed, you can contact email@example.com anytime.
💡 If you need more feedback from locals' who've undertaken the full process - check here.
What do I risk for flying a commercial drone illegally in South Africa?
🚨 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. South African authorities however explain that they might apply one or more of the following:
a financial fine (up to 3,500€)
prison time (up to 10 years)
Once you've got everything in order, you can start flying above South Africa's awesome landscapes and create videos like this one:
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.
RPAS Regulations Part 101 (Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems)
SA-CATS 101 (South African Technical Standards)
Approved training organisations (for licenses)
✅ Please leave a comment or update the Forum when you receive news and/or gain experience with your drone in the South Africa! Have fun and safe flight!