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    How to Travel with a Drone in Nepal

    Balaram Thapa
    Balaram ThapaUpdated: Dec 27th 2023  |  Travel Guide

    There has been a tremendous change in the way we travel over the past few decades due to the advancement in technology. The method of capturing memories of our journeys using a camera has seen a sea change. Drones are the latest ' must-have' gadget for all professional and aspiring travel videographers and influencers. The aerial shots captured by a drone are edgier and stunning and provide a new perspective of a landscape.

    We, the Nepal Hiking Team, assert firmly that we do not process or issue drone permits. Our services are strictly confined to trekking and travel in Nepal. Information on drone use provided by us is for guidance only and does not extend to obtaining drone permits. Travelers must directly engage with Nepalese authorities for all drone permit-related matters.

    If you are trekking in Nepal, then carrying a drone will enable you to take some spectacular shots of the world's highest mountains. If you are curious about how to travel with a drone in Nepal, then we have collected some valuable information that you may find helpful.

    Drone Rules in Nepal

    There are certain rules and regulations you need to follow before entering Nepal with a drone. First and foremost, you need to get a customs clearance certificate for the gadget from the Customs Office at the Tribhuvan International Airport. Next, you get to get your gadget registered and obtain permissions from the following departments/government offices:

    • Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal
    • Department of Tourism
    • Ministry of Home Affairs
    • Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation

    The documents required to get a permit are:

    • A copy of your passport
    • A copy of the drone's manual specifications
    • Colored picture of the drone with the model and serial numbers visible
    • A copy of the customs clearance certificate
    • Information regarding the purpose and location of the flight

    To register your drone, you need to fill up a form. You will receive a certificate with a Unique Identification Number(UIN) after your registration is successful. The UIN will be valid for a period of 1 year. Basically, you first get your drone registered and later get the other permits.

    You must have the following authorization letters with you while requesting permits.

    • Letters of compliance issued by the Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration, and Ministry of Defence
    • Letter issued by your trekking agency and your trekking guide
    • A letter stating the pilot's intent to follow all rules and regulations while flying the drone
    • Copy of visa, passport, and biodata of the drone pilot

    Please note to fly a heavier and technologically advanced drone there are stringent rules in place. One needs to have a license to operate the gadget and must submit a comprehensive list of documents to the authorities. For detailed information, here's the link to CAAN's guidelines.

    How to get a drone-flying permit from the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (needed for all treks leading to Everest, Annapurna, Langtang, etc.)?

    You need to have the following documents with you :

    • National Park or Conservation Area Permit(for example – ACAP or Sagarmatha National Park Permit)
    • TIMS
    • Authorization Letter from Nepal Mountaineering Association
    • Other Permits, as per the region
    • Biodata of the drone pilot

    Permit Validity

    Once you receive the permit, it will only be valid for three months from the date of issuance.  If needed, you can renew your permit.

    Classification of drones

    According to their weight, the drones are classified into four categories:

    • Category A (Very Low Risk) – Less than 250gm
    • Category B (Low Risk) – 250gm to 2 kg
    • Category C (Regulated Low Risk) – 2 kg to 25 kg
    • Category D (Regulated High Risk) – More than 25 kg

    For drones weighing less than 2kg, one is allowed to fly them without a permit from CAAN (Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal), provided it is flown on private property and under 200 feet. However, it still requires permission from the Department of Tourism, the Ministry of Home Affairs, and the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation.

    A drone with a bandwidth of 2.4 megahertz or greater requires clearance from the Information and Communications Ministry for operation.

    No-Fly Zones

    Listed below are the places where the flying of drones is restricted.

    • UNESCO World Heritage sites and sacred sites like the Buddhaneelkantha Temple
    • Airports and international borders up to a radius of 5km
    • Singha Durbar and the official residences of the President, Prime Minister, and other important officials up to a radius of 1 km
    • Military and high-security zones
    • Conservation Areas and National Parks (filming is allowed if you have the necessary permit)
    • Conflict zones

    Penalty for flouting Nepal’s Drone Laws

    You will be fined or jailed depending on the seriousness of your crime as per Nepal’s civil aviation law.

    Things you should keep in mind while flying a drone in Nepal

    A drone can do what a regular camera cannot do. It can provide you with a perspective that is hidden from normal vision. Therefore one should always be cautious while flying a drone. Listed below are some tips for flying a drone in Nepal.

    • Respect people's privacy and don't invade people's private spaces
    • Drones must not be used to carry articles and harm living beings
    • Make sure your drone flies in line with your vision
    • Avoid flying in overcrowded areas, events with large gatherings, and disaster zones
    • Do not fly your drone if it's hazy and foggy
    • Flying a drone during the night can lead to accidents
    • Keep your drone below 400 meters and away from flying objects
    • Make sure you are not breaking any local rules while flying your drone
    • Heed the concerns of the local people and do not take any drone shots if you are asked not to, especially during religious ceremonies

    Nepal – A Perfect Destination to Shoot a Drone Video

    Nepal, with its tropical forests, high Himalayan mountains, and alpine valleys, is a paradise for all photographers and travelers. The country's pristine nature and snow-covered mountains offer myriad opportunities for shutter-happy tourists and vloggers.

    From the Annapurna hills swathed in pink and red rhododendron blooms during springtime to the snow-covered alpine meadows of Everest, the mountains of Nepal will provide you ample opportunities to take breathtaking aerial shots. Enjoy your trekking adventure while capturing world-class footage of the Himalayas.

    While obtaining a permit for a drone can be overwhelming for a tourist, one can always seek the help of a reputable local agency to help one out.  It can be daunting to go around the local offices, as one can face a lot of communication problems. Using the service of a local travel agency can make the procedure much smoother and faster. Each day of your holiday is precious and you do not want to waste it running around government offices. Employing a local agency to get things done can work in your favor. You save time and effort as well.

    For more detailed information about drone rules in Nepal, you can check out the Civil Aviation Authority's website.

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