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Can You Fly Drones Over Private Property?


With so many off-limits places from beaches to parks and everything in between, sometimes you struggle to find a place to fly as a drone pilot. Maybe you’ll stick to a residential area instead.

Can drones fly over private property?

Whether you can fly drones over private property depends on which part of the world you use your drone. For example, in some countries, you can fly your drone over private property if you don’t trespass. However, in others, you cannot operate over private property without the owner’s permission.

It’s okay if you’re still a little confused.

This guide will take you through various countries around the world and explain its policy about using a drone over private property.

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United States

The Federal Aviation Administration establishes the rules for drone operations in the United States. According to the FAA, if you don’t violate any laws when using your drone, you can fly it over private property.

However, you must have eyes on your drone the entire time to reduce the risk of property damage.

Canada

Transport Canada prohibits drone use over private property unless you have the property owner’s consent. If you do obtain their permission, you cannot fly within 400 feet of a building (or any other structure) nor ascend more than 400 feet over ground level.

New Zealand

The Civil Aviation Authority makes the drone rules in New Zealand. As part of CAA’s policy, you can’t fly a drone over private property unless you ask permission from the property owner first.

You can’t fly a drone beyond the height of any structure or tree, nor can you operate your drone further than 100 meters (328 feet) away.

Unite Kingdom

The UK CAA mandates that drone pilots ask for a property owner’s permission before flying over private property. Ideally, you should have written permission in case an authority figure asks about your drone activities.

Do you plan on flying commercially in the UK? You also need CAA permission before you launch.

Australia

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority provides safer, clearer skies in Australia. According to CASA, you cannot fly a drone over private property in Australia unless you yourself own that property or you have permission from the property owner.

Japan

The Japan Civil Aviation Bureau or JCAB prohibits drone use within 98.4 feet or 30 meters of private property. You also cannot operate a drone that close to crowds.

The Ministry of Land Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism also requires you to seek approval before using a drone at least 10 days in advance (excluding holidays and weekends).

Zimbabwe

The Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe or CAAZ does seem to approve drone usage over private property in Zimbabwe. However, you should always consult your drone map and ask for permission anyway to be safe.

Denmark

The Denmark Civil Aviation Administration or CAA prohibits drone use over private property without permission if walls, hedges, and fences surround the private property. You should probably request permission when operating over all private property to be safe!

Ireland

The Irish Aviation Authority creates aviation rules for safer skies in Ireland. Per the IAA’s rules, you can’t fly over any private property unless you talk to the property owner and ask for their permission first.

India

The Indian Directorate General of Civil Aviation or DGCA requires pilots to always obtain permission from a property owner when venturing over private property. You also need a drone license if you hope to avoid fines in this country!

Italy

ENAC, the civil aviation authority in Italy, does permit drone pilots to operate over private property, including sports facilities, lands, and buildings. However, you’re required to yield to manned aircraft and give them the right of way.

France

Per the French Civil Aviation Authority, you cannot use a drone in France over private property unless you get official authorization first. You also cannot operate your drone over people, so make sure you fly accordingly.


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Russia

The State Civil Aviation Authority of Russia or SCAA does not seem to have rules barring drone pilots from flying over private property in the country. However, consult your drone map and consider obtaining permission anyway. It’s the courteous thing to do!

Finland

The Finnish Transport Safety Agency determines what goes in Finland. It does not appear that TRAFI prohibits drone use over private property in Finland, but it never hurts to be doubly careful and ask anyway. 

The Netherlands

The Netherlands Directorate General of Civil Aviation or DGCA doesn’t allow you to use a drone over built-up areas or crowds, but you should be okay to fly over private property. Consider asking for permission.

South Africa

The South African Civil Aviation Authority or SACAA does not permit drones within 164 feet or 50 meters of someone’s private property without express permission from the property owner.

You can only fly your drone during daylight hours, and you must have eyes on your drone the entire time you use it.

China

The Civil Aviation Administration of China or CAAC permits drones in areas outside of no-fly zones, which should apply to private property as appropriate. However, you must register a drone first through the CAAC to fly it.

South Korea

The South Korea Office of Civil Aviation allows pilots to operate in the country over private property without requiring permission. You cannot exceed 150 meters or 492 feet unless you have permission to operate at a higher altitude.

Bahamas

Flying a drone in the Bahamas sounds like a dream, but don’t get too caught up in the tropical sights. You cannot fly a drone over someone’s private property in the Bahamas unless they grant you permission.

Iceland

The Icelandic Transport Authority requires drone pilots to obtain a property owner’s permission if flying nearer than 150 meters of a private building in a rural environment. The same law applies to public buildings.

Jamaica

The Jamaican Civil Aviation Authority or JCAA outlaws drones from operating on private or public property unless you have permission and, in some cases, authorization.

If you do get permission to fly, do not drop items with your drone and stay 5,000 meters or 3 nautical miles from airports, airfields, and helipads.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation or GACA doesn’t allow pilots within 50 meters of buildings, vehicles, or people. Further, you can’t fly over residential areas at all, nor military areas, hospitals, prisons, or commercial areas.

Brazil

ANAC in Brazil is the leading civil aviation authority. According to ANAC rules, it’s illegal to operate a drone over any private property, no exceptions. You must stay 29.87 meters or 98 feet from buildings or people if your drone weighs more than 250 grams or 0.55 pounds.

Greece

According to the Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority or HCAA, you cannot fly a drone over someone’s private property unless the property owner gives you permission. Further, you can’t operate a drone over sensitive areas like military facilities, government facilities, hospitals, prisons, and over people.

Mexico

Mexican drone law requires pilots to have the permission of a private property owner before flying their drones overhead. You also need permission when using a drone over groups of people or in urban areas.

A note about launching/landing versus flying drones on private property

Now seems like a great time to mention the difference between launching or landing a drone and flying a drone over one’s private property.

In the countries where you can legally fly over or across private property, with or without permission, the law only mentions flying. Launching or landing your drone on someone’s private property is trespassing.

It’s illegal to trespass on private property. Just because the property owner gave you permission to fly over their property doesn’t mean you can encroach upon it. If you do, you could end up getting arrested.

Global drone laws sometimes permit operations over private property. You must ask for permission first in the places that do allow it. Verbal permission suffices, but written permission is always better if you can get it.

This way, if you do somehow end up in court over using your drone, the matter doesn’t devolve into a battle of he-said, she-said.