There is no doubt bringing a drone on your Africa safari is an excellent idea. But operating a drone in Uganda, like any country, has some hoops you have to jump before you can bring the drone to capture those golden savanna moments in the wild.
These days, many travellers buy a drone to shoot impeccable video angles of the places they’ll visit, which a regular camera cannot shoot. When you’re crossing international borders, not being aware of the local laws can cost you fines, hassle, the loss of your drone, or worse. Some countries, even those very popular with tourists, prohibit crewless aerial vehicles (UAVs, e.g., drones) from being imported at all.
In Uganda, Many travelers have been caught off guard at the customs desk and lose their drones. Since May 20, 2020, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) announced operating a drone in Uganda procedures and announced importation procedures for RPA/Drones in Uganda.
Here are guidelines on importation and operation of remotely piloted aircraft (Drone) in Uganda. #aviation @MoWT_Uganda @UPDFspokespersn @mtic_uganda @TourismBoardUg @TouroperatorsUG @MoICT_Ug @UgandaMediaCent @KCCAUG @DailyMonitor @newvisionwire @LillyAjarova @MTWAUganda @MIA_UG pic.twitter.com/2ROr2GPnRP— Uganda CAA (@UgandaCAA) May 20, 2020
The CAA conducted research on operating drones in Uganda in July 2019, and they described a drone as:
- For recreational or commercial/professional purposes
- A most popular category of crewless aircraft
- Usually flown visual line-of-sight (VLOS) in VMC
- May require special authorization and coordination from the
- competent authority to operate in the vicinity of an aerodrome
- Mainly operated by people without an aviation background
- Generally operated under the following conditions; 120 metres/400 feet daytime VMC, 30 meters from people, 5.5 km from an aerodrome, Outside controlled airspace, and Generally less than 25Kgs.
Public Notice Procedure For Importation And Operation Of A Remotely Piloted Aircraft (Drone) In Uganda (20 May 2020)
1. Identify the Ministry in Uganda within which the activity falls and write to that particular Ministry seeking a letter of no objection.
2. Write a letter to the Chief of Defence Forces Uganda seeking another letter of no objection (Attach the previous letter of no objection from the Ministry)
3. After the acquisition of clearance from the Chief of Defence Forces, you can proceed to import the drone to Uganda
4. At the point of entry in Uganda, either by air or land, acquire clearance from the Uganda Revenue Authority (Customs) for the importation of the drone. After importation, permission has to be sought from the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority to operate the drone in Uganda by writing to the Director of Safety, Security and Economic Regulation on related guidelines.
6. Please note that all documentation of previous clearances at the various stages with the following additional requirements should be attached before further clearance is granted:
- Drone operations manual and specifications
- Pilot’s Drone training certificate, license, and Class III medical certificate issued by a recognized aviation designated medical examiner.
- Observer’s particulars
- Geographical location and map of the area of operation
- A copy of third-party insurance
- Fully completed authorization form.
7. You will be required to pay the authorization fee of Uganda Shillings 200.000 + 18% VAT at the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority Cash office located at Entebbe International Airport and submit a copy of the payment receipt.
8. 0n satisfying the above application criteria, the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority will issue the following:
- UCAA Drones Operations Permit
- Summary of information/particulars of the registered operator
- Specific operating conditions of the permit.
Article 8: Convention on International Civil Aviation
No aircraft is capable of being flown without a pilot over a contracting State territory without special authorization by that State and per the terms of such authorization.
Each contracting State undertakes to ensure that such aircraft’s flight without a pilot in regions open to civil aircraft shall be so controlled as to obviate danger to civil aircraft.
Legal framework for Operating a Drone
According to the CAA of Uganda, all crewless aircraft, whether remotely piloted or not, are subject to the provisions of Article 8 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation:
- Crewless aircraft require special authorization to fly over another contracting state
- Crewless aircraft must be controlled to prevent danger to civil aircraft