Comprehensive Guide to Drone Laws in Portugal

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With its dramatic coastline and rich history during the Age of Discovery, Portugal is a great place to fly a drone. The Portuguese have a great application system in place, which makes the process, including finding and reading regulations and understanding areas permitted to fly, much easier.

Portugal has created a one-stop online hub for everything drone related. Simply navigate here to find all of the regulations as well as an easy FAQ section to help you navigate the rules of the air. If your drone doesn’t take pictures or video, this is likely all that you need to read, understand, and abide by. There is even a handy map outlining the areas you can and cannot fly, found here.

Important rules to follow when flying:

  • Maximum altitude of 120 meters (400 ft.)

  • Do not fly over large groups of people, defined as 12 or more

  • Flights must be within line of sight

  • Only fly in permissible areas (see map here)

  • Drones must weigh less than 25 kilograms, else further approval is required

  • Do not fly is the presence of other manned aircraft

  • Insurance is not required, but liability for any damages is the responsibility of the drone operator.

  • For a full list of regulations, visit https://voanaboa.pt/voa-na-boa. If you are unsure whether or not you require additional approvals due to a need or desire to operate outside of these boundaries, you can submit a form to the Portuguese Civil Aviation Authority, known as ANAC, who will respond with the information you require. The form to fill out, if in doubt, can be found here and submitted via email to drones@anac.pt .

  • Finally, does your drone take pictures or video, including relaying a video feed to the pilot even if not being recorded? If so, you’ll need to submit an application to fly and use video even if operating within all of the above regulations. Thankfully, this process is straightfoward. Read on…

If your drone can take pictures or video, and let’s be honest, most can, then you need to submit an application through the recently released website of the National Aeronautical Authority, known as AAN. It doesn’t matter if you don’t plan to take any pictures or video, simply the fact that your drone is capable of doing so means you are under these regulations. Thankfully, with the creation of the e-AAN online application process, what used to be a hardcopy form and manual submission process is now handled exclusively through the e-AAN portal completely electronically (applications are manually reviewed, but all communication is done through the portal). Simply create a free e-AAN account and register yourself as the pilot along with your drone and its specifications. The e-AAN website will even recognize your location and automatically translate and communicate in English, which is a very nice touch.

Upon registering a pilot and drone within your e-AAN account you will need to submit an application to operate within a defined area for a specified date range and time of day. Applications must be submitted at least 12 days prior to your desired date of flight. Simply find the coordinates of your desired area(s) of operation using a tool such as Google Maps, specify the radius around that point that you desire to fly, and submit the dates and times of your planned flight. Your submission will then be reviewed by the AAN, which may take a few days.

After receiving an approved response, be sure to print your authorization from your e-AAN account and physically carry it with you when operating your drone. Failure to do so could result in fines.

Once you have familiarized yourself with the regulations of ANAC and the portal at e-AAN, you should find Portugal’s drone application straightforward, which is refreshing in its forward-thinking process compared to other parts of the world. Happy flying!

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Disclaimer: We do not take any responsibility for any harm, loss, or damage caused as a direct or indirect consequence of relying on this information, and promote complying with the full extent of the laws and regulations of the relevant local authorities. It is the responsibility of every drone operator to ensure the accuracy of the information and the appropriate operation of their drone based on the laws and regulations of the relevant local authorities.