Yes, you can fly a drone in the Maldives but only after obtaining the required approvals from the MNDF and MCAA.
Drone operations need to be carried out under certain limitations like not flying more than 400 feet above ground level, not flying over people, military installations and airports etc…
The reason for this is due to the many simultaneous planes transporting tourists, and other excursions including multiple floating platforms, and the risk that unregulated drone usage could pose to these operations.
And many tourists pay a premium price to enjoy serenity seclusively. Since many resorts have open-air bathrooms as well as pools and jacuzzies, a drone flying over would not only be an inconvenience but also a privacy intrusion.
Due to these reasons, a few islands and a number of resorts prohibit drone operations, while others allow drones under strict surveillance to ensure peace and tranquillity for tourists.
Would It Be Necessary To Obtain Permission To Fly a Drone In The Maldives?
Yes, in order to take impressive pictures of your vacation in the Maldives from a bird’s eye view, you must obtain prior approval from the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) and a permit from the Maldives Civil Aviation Authority (MCAA). Additionally, the hotel or island where you would be filming may also need to approve the usage of drones.
Additionally, you should know that not all requests for drone use are granted permission and that in the Maldives, the rules set out by the Maldives Civil Aviation Authority are strictly enforced.
The approval process could take a long time; hence it is advisable to submit the request for drone operations at least a month prior to your visit.
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Steps To Follow In Order To Get Authorization To Fly A Drone In The Maldives
The first step is to obtain approval from the hotel or the local island council as some resorts prohibit the flying of drones.
The next step is an optional one depending on the purpose of the drone usage. The National Center for the Arts (NCA) must be consulted if filming is for commercial purposes. If the purpose of filming is recreation, the NCA’s approval is not necessary.
While obtaining approval from the hotel/local island council, you can also fill out this application form and email (firstname.lastname@example.org) it to the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) to obtain their approval.
A permit must also be obtained from the Maldives Civil Aviation Authority (MCAA) as the final step. Submit this application form to email@example.com with a copy of the defence permit obtained from the MNDF.
General Rules For Flying A Drone In The Maldives
The Maldives places great importance on the safe use of drones for maintaining travellers’ privacy and safety. Therefore, the use of these devices is regulated by the resort management and the relevant authorities, who make each decision based on individual needs, and these rules may differ from island to island or resort to resort.
However, standard rules require drones not to be operated overhead of people, near military facilities, power plants, airports, or higher than 400 feet above the ground. Furthermore, you might be requested to fly the drone only during daylight hours and in good weather conditions.
Due to the unique geographical structure of the Maldives, with many islands and airports, it is mandatory for users of drones to check the map of airports and the necessary guidelines to ensure that they are not breaking any rules.
Will The Authorities Inquire About The Drone At The Airport?
Yes, even with the limitations, if you still wish to enjoy the beauty of the Maldives from a bird’s eye view, you must have all the copies of your permits with you at the Maldives airport to avoid any hassle and trouble.
Some areas may have completely banned aerial filming, so officials would require information on the purpose of your filming and the specific dates and times you will be operating.
If drone activities are conducted near an airport or seaplane platform, you might be required to provide copies of notices to Air Missions (NOTAMs) to pilots and Air Traffic Control. MCAA will issue NOTAMs once your request has been approved.
Is It Cheaper To Buy A Drone In The Maldives?
The Maldives isn’t the best place to buy items – if you need to buy expensive items, such as drones, you might do better back home where the price is probably cheaper, and you’ll get a warranty.
Be sure to check with airlines prior to travelling, as some major ones will allow you to fly with a drone only if its batteries are removed and stored in a fire-proof container.
As a general rule, airlines limit battery voltages according to recommendations made by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
Can I Bring A DJI Mavic Mini Or Mavic Air To The Maldives?
There are no legal requirements on what type of drone you use to capture beautiful landscapes of pristine white beaches in the Maldives. Nevertheless, as long as the drone is functioning in optimal condition, you will be able to use it with the relevant permits.
Make sure you do a test shoot before you bring it to the Maldives and ensure that you are familiar with its operation. You do not want to be standing on a foreign island trying to configure the technical details of the DJI Mavic Mini.
You might also be interested in: Are Unmarried Couples Allowed in the Maldives?
Can I Fly A Drone On An Empty Beach In The Maldives?
If you have received the permit, you can enjoy taking spectacular aerial footage of the crystalline sands, turquoise waters, and lush greenery of vacant beaches.
If the beach is empty, it could be an added benefit since you wouldn’t be causing any interruptions or hindrances to other tourists.
Where Are Drones Banned In The Maldives?
In the Maldives, because of the topography, noise carries much further across flat surfaces, especially water. Consequently, many tourists find the intrusion to be disruptive to their leisure time.
Imagine a scenario where you are relaxing at a beach resort you have paid thousands of dollars for, only to have a noisy, large piece of metal hover a few feet above you to ruin the peace and quiet.
Frustrations like this – raised by many tourists are valid, and some resorts take necessary precautions to ban the usage of drones due to this.
There is no extensive list of places and resorts that have banned the use of drones. Hence, it is always advisable to check with the resort or the relevant local council authorities to ensure that you will not be in violation of any regulations.
There is nothing worse than being fined while holidaying, so it is always better to be safe than sorry. There are many resorts that allow aerial filming on the condition that it is performed in designated areas.
The management may grant special permission to photograph the resort under exceptional circumstances, provided guests are informed in advance and measures are taken to minimize the impact on them and protect their privacy.