Drone Laws in Portugal (2023 Updated)
Drones are becoming increasingly popular, not just for recreation but also for commercial use. As drones become more commonplace, the need for regulation of these devices grows.
Each country has its own laws governing drones, and it can be difficult to keep track of them all. In this blog post, we'll examine drone laws in Portugal.
The Portuguese government has enacted drone laws that are overseen by the European Union Safety Agency (ENAC) and National Civil Aviation Authority (ANAC).
Here are Specific Portuguese drone regulations so you can stay compliant while flying your drone in Portugal. This blog post will clarify everything about drone laws in Portugal and explain what you need to know before taking your drone out for a spin in Portugal.
Table of Contents
- Are Drones Legal in Portugal?
- General Drone Rules in Portugal (2023)
- Operation Categories in European Union
- National Civil Aviation Authority (ANAC)
- European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA)
- Registering as a Drone Pilot in Portugal
- No Drone Zones in Portugal
- Rules For Foreign Operators in Portugal
Are Drones Legal in Portugal?
Yes, drones are legal in Portugal, and the National Civil Aviation Authority (ANAC) regulates their use. The EASA has three categories for drones: OPEN, SPECIFIC, and CERTIFIED. Each category has its own set of rules and regulations that must be followed when operating a drone in Portugal.
ANAC states that drones are allowed in Portugal as long as the operators follow ANAC and EASA regulations. Operators must register their drones and abide by the restrictions of both no-fly zones and flight altitude.
Additionally, operators should always be aware of their surroundings when flying a drone to ensure the safety of people, aircraft, animals, and property.
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General Drone Rules in Portugal (2023)
All drone operators in Portugal must register their drones and follow the below rules.
- Drones may fly no higher than 50 meters (170 feet) in the Open category and 120 meters (400 feet) in the Specific category. The ANAC may exempt specific category drone operators.
- The operator must have a clear line of sight to the drone at all times, and it should not fly farther than 500 meters away.
- It's best to avoid flying in airspace near residential or populated areas.
- Establish and maintain a one-kilometer safety buffer zone around all residential areas.
- A safety distance of 500 meters from isolated buildings, people, vehicles, animals, and structures is required unless the owner or person consents.
- Maintain a distance of at least eight kilometers from airports and three kilometers from heliports.
- Drones are not permitted to be flown at night.
- You are not allowed to fly over, within, or near military installations, public utility installations, archaeological sites, or public or private facilities.
Operation Categories in European Union
The European Union has classified drones into three distinct categories, each with its own specific set of rules and regulations that must be adhered to.
Neither authorization from a competent authority nor a declaration by the drone operator is required because the risk is low. The drone’s total takeoff mass must be less than 25kg, and it can only fly within 120m of altitude so that the operator has a visual line of sight.
In recent years, open-category drones have risen throughout the European Union as people have found many commercial and recreational uses for them. Their affordability, convenience, and versatility are some of the main reasons for this trend.
In addition, many find open-category drones to be simpler and more "user-friendly" than other unmanned aircraft systems. Although drone usage does come with several challenges in the EU, it is evident that these types of aircraft will have a big impact on aviation and transport moving forward.
The particular category is considered more limited than the open one, and it's notable that not every commercial activity is allowed. For instance, without their clear agreement, you cannot use a specific-category drone to take pictures or film people.
There are also several other restrictions that apply to specific-category drones, so before attempting to operate one of these, check with the EASA for guidance.
A specific-category drone is a drone that requires special permission from the authorities to fly. These drones weigh between 25kg and 150kg and can be used for commercial purposes. In order to fly one of these drones, you first have to get a permit from the EASA.
Certified category drones are those that have been manufactured to meet the highest safety standards. The EASA oversees a number of certification programs for different types of drones, so anyone wanting to operate one should consult with the agency first.
Drones that have been certified-category are ones that follow the safety standards set by EASA. They usually weigh more than 150kg and can only be used for commercial use. If you want to fly one of these drones, getting a permit from EASA is necessary.
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National Civil Aviation Authority (ANAC)
The National Civil Aviation Authority (ANAC) is a Portuguese organization responsible for regulating and supervising air traffic in the country. It is also responsible for issuing licenses and certificates to pilots, aircraft, and airports.
In addition, the ANAC is responsible for investigating aviation accidents and incidents. The organization is headquartered in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The ANAC is also responsible for regulating the use of drones in Portugal. Drones are unmanned aerial vehicles that are controlled remotely. They are increasingly being used for a variety of purposes, including photography, delivery, and surveillance.
In order to operate a drone in Portugal, you must obtain a license from the ANAC. As the use of drones continues to grow in Portugal, the ANAC will play an important role in ensuring that they are operated safely and in accordance with the law.
European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA)
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is an agency of the European Union responsible for civil aviation safety. It publishes and enforces safety regulations, coordinates sporting aviation activities, and provides intelligence and analysis on aviation safety matters.
The EASA also licenses aircraft, pilots, and aviation maintenance technicians. Drones are a relatively new technology, and as such, they fall under the jurisdiction of the EASA.
The agency is responsible for ensuring that drones are operated safely and in accordance with the law. To that end, the EASA has published a set of rules and regulations governing the operation of drones in European airspace.
These regulations cover topics such as registration, air traffic control, and risk assessment. By complying with these regulations, drone operators can help ensure the safety of themselves and others.
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Registering as a Drone Pilot in Portugal
If you want to operate a drone, or unmanned aircraft system (UAS), in Europe, you're legally required to register as an operator, not just the drones themselves. The UAS Pilot, or Remote Pilot (RP), operates the UAS flight controls and is responsible for the safety of the flight.
The UAS Operator is the individual or organization who is responsible for managing drone flight operations. They are also the ones who give instructions to the pilots flying the drones. Usually, in the OPEN category and when flying as an individual, the Pilot and Operator are one and the same person.
In order to be part of the OPEN category, operators must register if :
- Unmanned aircraft that weigh 250 grams or more.
- Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) that weigh less than 250 grams and can fly faster than 90 kilometers per hour, and are equipped with either a camera or microphone.
All operators must register under the SPECIFIC category.
You can find the drone operator registration process at ANAC Online Drone Registration. You will receive a UAS operator registration number that is valid for one year, and you must renew it following the same procedure annually. Unless you are permanently deregistered from the register, you will always use the same number.
No Drone Zones in Portugal
No drone zones are areas where drones are not permitted to operate, typically for safety or privacy reasons. There are a variety of no-drone zones, including airports, national parks, and military bases.
Drones are typically not allowed to fly near airports because of the aircraft collision risk. National parks are another common no-drone zone; drones can disturb wildlife and interfere with the park's natural beauty. Similarly, most military bases do not allow drones to fly overhead, as they could be used to gather intelligence.
No drone zones help protect people and property from the risks associated with drone flight, and they are likely to become more common as drone technology develops.
To maintain safety, drones cannot fly in open-air crowds near airports, embassies, or other government buildings, military bases, prisons, or schools. If you want to fly a drone over a national park, you have to fill out a form and send it to the ICNF or IP.
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Rules For Foreign Operators in Portugal
If this is the first time you will fly your drone in an EU country, and you are coming from a non-EU country, you MUST register as an Operator. After registering, you will receive a unique Operator Registration number, which needs to be attached to your drone.
If you own multiple drones, the same registration number must be on all of them. You can't fly in NO-FLY ZONES and must stay at least 8km from airports/heliports.
If you flew somewhere else in the EU before Portugal, you don't have to register again, you only need to register for your first flight outside of the EU.
To fly your drone in Portugal, if you live in a non-EU country, you must hold a Remote Pilot Certificate issued from an EU country. You can get the A1/A3 Certificate by registering with the online Remote Pilot School.
If you want to fly a drone under the ‘Open’ category in either A1 or A3 subcategory, then you are required to take both online training and an exam. You need 75% to pass the exam, and you're allowed 3 tries in total.
Your remote pilot certificate will be sent to you as soon as you pass your exam. The Remote Pilot Certificate will be valid for 5 years. Always keep the certificate on you when you operate a drone in Portugal and present it to authorities if asked.
The National Civil Aviation Authority manages drone operations in Portugal (ANAC), and as long as operators follow the regulations, it is legal to operate a drone.
However, there are restrictions on where drones can be flown, including airports, national parks, military bases, and areas with high population density.
Additionally, operators should always remain aware of their surroundings when operating a drone to ensure the safety of people and property. Lastly, if you plan to take pictures or record videos using your drone, you must obtain approval from ANAC first.
With proper knowledge and adherence to safety guidelines, flying drones in Portugal can be an enjoyable experience for everyone involved. Hope this article was helpful to you. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask them in the comments section below.