How to register your drone in Thailand by Richard Barrow
If you intend to fly a drone in Thailand, whether as a hobby or for commercial reasons, you have to by law register your drone first. If you don’t you could face a fine of up to 100,000 Baht or even up to five years in prison. They are serious about this, so before you fly, make sure you register your drone with the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC). In addition, if your drone weighs over two kilos and/or you plan to use it for commercial reasons, then you need to obtain insurance and get permission to fly from the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT). Their fine for not doing this is up to 40,000 Baht and up to one year in prison. Before you ask, if you have a toy drone, for example weighing less than 250g, then the NBTC or CAAT are not interested.
When I first started flying drones in Thailand I hardly ever saw any other drone pilots. I also didn’t face any problems about where I could fly. Security guards would come over if they saw me flying, not because it was illegal, but because they were curious to see the live pictures from above. Sadly, those days are long gone. Security guards are more likely to chase you away or sometimes you will see signs like the one above which prohibits the flying of drones. This is not necessarily because of any new laws, it is mainly because just about everyone decided to get a drone for Christmas. Now, with so many people flying, it is no longer the novelty and people, sometimes quite rightly, are fed up with the buzzing sound of the drones flying low over their heads.
When I attend an event these days, there are usually four or five drones flying. And quite honestly, some of these pilots are very dangerous. They are not keeping their drones in line of sight. They are just watching their screens. Which means the possibility of a collision is quite high. I have seen them go down before, either crashing into buildings, trees and power lines, or just colliding with another drone. I tend not to fly at events any more. Partly because it is distracting to people who might be watching a show, but also it is quite dangerous if there is a large crowd. The number one rule for drone pilots is to make sure you have a wide and clear area in case of an emergency landing. This kind of thing is why the Ministry of Transport came out with a new law about the use of drones in Thailand.
Even after you have registered your drone with the NBTC and have permission to fly from CAAT (if you have a large drone or you are flying for commercial reasons), you still need to obey the following rules. If not, you will be subject to a fine and maybe imprisonment.
Once you have permission from the land owner to fly, you must obey these rules while flying:
must not fly in a way that may cause harm to the life, property and peace of others
must not fly into restricted area, limited area and dangerous area announced in Aeronautical Information Publication – Thailand or AIP-Thailand and also at government buildings and hospitals unless permission is given.
take-off and landing area must not be obstructed by anything
must keep the Unmanned Aircraft in line-of-sight at all times and not rely on the monitor or other devices
must only fly between sunrise and sunset when the Unmanned Aircraft can clearly be seen
must not fly in or near clouds
must not fly within 9 km (5 nautical miles) from airport or temporary airfield unless having permission from the airport or airfields operators
must not fly over 90 meters above the ground
must not fly over cities, villages, communities or areas where people are gathered
must not fly near other aircraft that have pilots
must not violate the privacy rights of others
must not cause a nuisance to others
must not deliver or carry dangerous items or lasers on the Unmanned Aircraft
must not fly horizontally closer than 30 meters (100 feet) to people, vehicles, constructions or buildings
If you intend to fly a drone in Thailand, then by Thai law you must register it first with the NBTC. Apparently only 350 drones have been registered up to now out of an estimated 50,000 drones in Thailand. Which is why there is now a crackdown on drones. Before, we probably would have gotten away with flying without a license if we were discreet. But, now, thanks to all of the publicity, everyone knows you must register your drone or you will face up to five years in prison. It was front page news in the Bangkok Post (see the article here) and other national newspapers.
The following is what I did to register my drones with NBTC in Bangkok. They have 17 offices around Thailand, and so you don’t need to do this here. Also, you are apparently allowed to register at your local police station. I know people who have done this, but make sure you download the form in advance as they won’t know anything about it. My advice is to go to your local NBTC officer. In Thai it is “????.”, just search for it on google maps. For the one in Bangkok, it is on Soi Phahonyothin 8. Click here for the map link. When you arrive, you will see the big building in the photo above. You need to go to Building 2, first floor. From the front gate, turn right and walk down a path. Don’t go through security. You will see the building on your right near the road.
Before you go, you should prepare the following. If you do so, then you will be in and out in just five minutes. That is how long it took me to register my two drones.
Sign a copy of your passport
Photos of your drone and the serial number on your drone
Two copies of the filled in application form
That’s it if you are just flying as a hobby like myself. If you are media or a registered company, then there are more documents that you need.
You don’t need to take your drone into the office. Though some people did.
Stick the photos on a piece of A4 paper and then sign the sheet of paper.
You need a set of documents for each of your drones.
The serial numbers are on a sticker on the drone box. I took a picture of that.
Print the application form on both sides of a sheet of paper. Or pick one up at their office.
The filled in form needs to be photocopied. This is what they stamp and return to you.
Source: Richard Barrow
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