There 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.

Many travelers these days buy a drone to shoot impeccable videos angles of the places they’ll be visiting a normal camera cannot shoot but 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 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs e.g. drones) from being imported at all.

A Drone on Africa Safari
Awesome image angles to catch wildlife

In Uganda Many travelers have been caught off guard at the customs desk and end up losing their drones but since May 20, 2020, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) announced operating a drone in Uganda procedures and also announced importation procedures for RPA/Drones in Uganda.

Research on operating drones in Uganda was conducted by the CAA in July 2019 and they described a drone as:

  • For recreational or commercial/professional purposes
  • Most popular category of unmanned aircraft
  • Usually flown visual line-of-sight (VLOS) in VMC
  • May require special authorisation and coordination from the
  • competent authority to operate in vicinity of aerodrome
  • Mainly operated by people without aviation background
  • Generally operated under the following conditions; 120 metres/400 feet daytime VMC, 30 metres from people, 5.5 km from an aerodrome, Outside controlled airspace and Generally less than 25Kgs.
Drone View of Kyaninga Lodge | © Kyaninga Lodge
Undoubtedly a drone will give you awesome view of Uganda’s beauty from above.

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 for another letter of no objection (Attach previous letter of no objection from the Ministry) 

3. After 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 Uganda Revenue Authority (Customs) for importation of the drone. S. After importation, permission has to be sought from Uganda Civil Aviation Authority to operate the drone in Uganda by writing to the Director 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, licence and Class III medical certificate issued by a recognised 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 to submit a copy of the payment receipt. 

8. 0n satisfying the above application criteria, 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.
On Safari with a drone | credit: ultimateafrica.com

Article 8: Convention on International Civil Aviation

No aircraft capable of being flown without a pilot over the territory of a contracting State without special authorisation by that State and in accordance with the terms of such authorisation.

Each contacting State undertakes to insure that the flight of such aircraft 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 unmanned aircraft whether remotely piloted or not are subject to the provisions of Article 8 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation:

  • Unmanned aircraft require special authorisation to fly over another contracting state
  • Unmanned aircraft must be controlled to prevent danger to civil aircraft

To avoid the hustle of going through the bureaucratic process of importing and operating a drone in Uganda on your fine Africa safari vacation, contact Destination Uganda consultants on travel@destinationuganda.com to help you through the process so that you can enjoy your vacation in Uganda.

References: