Drone laws: what you need to know before you fly
The age of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) is in full swing, and the remote aircraft involved have already shown us unforgettable sights, like drone flying through Independence Day fireworks. More poignantly, one conveyed the extent of the devastation to Homs, Syria far more effectively than simple ground-based footage.
UAVs enjoyed a fairly lawless “Wild West” state for years, but many countries have now issued laws that regulate hobbyist and commercial drone flights.
We’ve compiled a list of the most significant drone laws in the North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Many commonalities exist from region to region, but you’ll still want to check more closely before taking to the skies. But note: this is the most up-to-date information we could find, but the laws change often and some of the laws for regions discussed are currently in flux.
Penalties for not following the rules can be harsh. In the US, for instance, you could face a fine of $27,500 if you don’t pay the five bucks to register your drone. If you commit a criminal violation, you may end up paying as much as $250,000 and spending as many as three years in prison.
Or take the UK. Last September, a Nottingham man flew his drone over or near multiple English sports stadiums and landmarks like Buckingham Palace, and the police slapped him with a £1,800 ($2,572) fine and ordered him not to own, fly, or even help someone else use a drone for the next two years. Let’s hope the shots were worth it.