UAV Permission and Flying Regulation in Nepal

UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) or RPAs (Remotely Piloted Aircrafts) commonly known as drones, have become popular within the last few years. Generally, people consider a drone as a flying machine with a camera but, a typical drone consists of three main systems – A flight system, a sensor system, and a navigation system. The flight system determines the mode of operation of drones (Manual, semi-autonomous and autonomous), a sensor system handles the payload (camera, Li-DAR, Sonar) where as, navigation system (GPS, IMU,VPS) navigates the drone by identifying its position in the airspace.  

In recent years, drones have been increasingly utilized in various industries and applications such as aerial photography, survey and mapping, search and rescue operations, wildlife monitoring, and humanitarian aid delivery. In the aftermath of the 2015 earthquake, drones were used for search and rescue operations and for collecting data for relief efforts. Since then, various international and local organizations have utilized drones for a wide range of purposes, such as monitoring the reconstruction of damaged buildings, mapping the affected areas, and delivering essential supplies to remote communities. 

Hence to regulate and monitor drone operation in Nepal the Ministry of Home Affairs introduced “Drone Related Flight Work Plan 2072 B.S ” in the year 2072 BS and revised regulation in 2075 BS published as “Drone Related Flight Work Plan 2075 B.S”. The provided information on obtaining flight permission will be based on “Drone Related Flight Work Plan 2075 B.S”. 

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MOHA), Ministry of Information and Communication (MOCIT) and Civil Aviation Authority Nepal (CAAN) are the main bodies of Government of Nepal for regulating UAV uses to ensure national security, public safety and prevent any misuse of UAV in Nepal. 

  • Ministry of Home Affairs (MOHA)

Drones were initially invented for the purpose of espionage and the delivery of explosive materials through the air, making them a technology of warfare. Due to this potential threat, the home ministry, which is responsible for the country’s security, aims to ensure that every flight of drones within Nepal’s borders does not pose a threat to national security. To that end, they are taking measures to regulate the use of drones within the country.

  • Ministry of Information and Communication (MOCIT)

The Ministry of Information and Communication is tasked with overseeing the operating parameters of any communication medium, including radios, televisions, walkie-talkies, and other communication equipment. They are responsible for regulating the channels of communication, which includes drones and their communication equipment. To ensure the safe and responsible use of drones, the Ministry must regulate the communication channels used by these devices.

  • Civil Aviation Authority Nepal (CAAN)

The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) is responsible for managing and regulating air traffic in the country. Their main concern is the potential for drones to interfere with or collide with other aircraft. Unregulated drone operations and flights in sensitive areas are seen as posing a threat to security, weakening air safety, and violating personal privacy. As a result, the CAAN is implementing measures to control drone use in Nepal. 

How to Secure Drone Permission ??

Let’s dive straight into it.

The government of Nepal has categorized the drones/ UAVs on the basis of their weight and created different sets of regulations for each category.

Table: Drone Classification based on weight with its risk stakes 

Drone CategoryCategory ACategory BCategory CCategory D
WeightUp to 250 gmBetween 250 gm – 2 KG Between 2 KG – 25 KG Above 25 KG
Risk StakesVery Low RiskLow RiskRegulated, Low RiskRegulated, High Risk
ExamplesAutel Evo Nano, DJI Mini SEDJI Phantom, DJI Mavic seriesWingtra One, DJI Matrice 300, DJI InspireIndustrial Drones with heavy payloads, DJI AGRAS series
  1. Register your Drone

First of all, you need a Unique Identification Number (UIN) before applying for a flight permission. You can get the UIN only after registration with CAAN. One can apply for his/her drone registration online.

You will require the following documents for drone registration:

  • Citizenship/Passport (Incase of Individual)
  • Organization Registration Certificate (Incase of consulting firm/company)
  • Objectives of the Instrument
  • Specification of the Drone and its Manual
  • VAT Bill (if purchased in Nepal)  or Customs Document (If purchased/brought from abroad)

Or , visit Flight Safety Standard Department (under the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal) with one additional A fill up form which is located at Sinamangal, Kathmandu. 

  1. Drone Flight Permission

If your drone falls under the category A and category B you must visit the District Administration Office in the district where you wish to fly drones. If your drone falls under the category C and category D you must obtain permission from MOHA, MOCIT and other concerned authorities depending on the purpose of flight. The following documents required to apply for drone flight permission:

  • Drone Registration Certificate
  • Drone specification
  • Copy of citizenship/ Passport of drone pilot license, and CV 
  • Flight details such as purpose of flight, flight start date, flight end date, flight location with its boundary location.
  • A drone pilot’s commitment to abide by the rules, in writing.

Note 1: Universities and research institutions with registered category A and category B drones are not required to have a drone flight permit for flying within their own facilities. Having said that, they cannot fly drones above 200 ft AGL and will be fully responsible for their actions.

Note 2: If your drone falls under the category A and you want to fly under 50 ft AGL (Above Ground Level) you don’t have to take permission and fly drones by informing local police taking full responsibility for your action.

Note 3: For foreigners, one must pay customs fees and obtain custom clearance documents. Then S/He can must obtain clearance from Ministry of tourism, MOHA, CAAN and other concerned authorities such as National Parks administration office one wants to fly within that area.

The obtained flight permission will be valid for only three months and can be extended up to 3 months if necessary. 

Restricted areas

The new rule related to drone operation has categorized the following regions as the restricted area for drone operations:

  • All drone activity must be avoided in an area within 5 km of the airport.
  • A 5 km distance from the international boundary must be kept clear of drones.
  • Drones must not be flown within a 1 km radius of religious, heritage, and sacred sites.
  • The offices and residences of the President, Vice-President, Prime Minister, and other VIPs must have a no-fly zone of 1 km radius.
  • Military and safety offices must have a no-fly zone of 1 km, while other safety departments must have a 500m no-fly zone.
  • Conservation areas and mines must not be flown over by drones.
  • Conflict and war zones must be avoided by drone flights.
  • Other areas with restrictions as specified by provincial or local governments must also not be flown over by drones.

Other restriction areas as stated by the provincial or local governments.