Starting 1 June 2022, there are new regulations that govern the operations of drones (now referred to as Small Unmanned Aircraft (SUA)) in Hong Kong. However, it is worth noting that there is a six-month grace period to allow drone pilots to get accustomed to the new drone laws.
The rules are very much in line with drone laws in many other countries, which follow a risk-based approach according to the weight of the drone.
Drones in Hong Kong now fall under 3 categories:
This table highlights the basic requirements that remote pilots should be aware of regarding their drones.
|Category of Operation||Category A1||Category A2||Category B|
|Criteria||Drone weight ≤ 250 g|
Standard Operating Requirements
|Drone weight > 250 g ≤ 7 kg|
Standard Operating Requirements
|Drone weight ≤ 7 kg but exceeding the respective category A1/A2 standard operating requirements;
Drone weight > 7 kg ≤ 25 kg;
Operations involving carriage of dangerous goods or
Operations in restricted flying zone
|Registration and labelling of drone||X||✓||✓|
|Registration of remote pilots||X||✓||✓|
|Training and assessment of remote pilots||X||X||✓|
|Basic equipment (flight log and geo-awareness)||X||✓||✓|
|Permission from CAD prior to operations required||X||X||✓|
|Drone insurance for third-party liability (bodily injury and/or death)||X||TBD||✓ (Minimum coverage: HKD $10 million)|
Obviously, the big change for drone pilots after 1 June 2022 is drone and drone pilot registration.
The drone registration process in Hong Kong is a 3-step process.
SUAs under 250g, such as the DJI Mini drones, do not need their pilots or the drone to be registered.
If your SUA weighs more than 250g, you must register yourself and the drone. So, let’s look into these 3 steps in more detail.
This step is relatively straightforward. As the process is online, you’ll need to first sign up and create an account with an email and password on the Electronic Portal for Small Unmanned Aircraft (eSUA) website.
The next step in the drone registration process is to register yourself as the Remote Pilot. The minimum age of a Remote Pilot is 14 years old.
The registration process requires you to go through important safety information to enhance your safety awareness.
After that, you’re required to provide your
Once this information is uploaded into the system, Remote Pilot Certificate with a Standard Rating is issued and sent to your registered email address. The Remote Pilot Certificate is valid for 3 years.
To earn an Advanced Rating certificate, pilots will be required to undergo training. As of now, I haven’t come across any training programmes.
And finally, the last step in this process is to register your drone. As a Remote Pilot, you can register multiple drones (or SUAs).
To register your drone, click the SUA Registration button in the navbar menu, and then click +Add SUA.
You will then be required to input the required details of your drone:
Once complete, click +Add SUA to add another drone or Submit to submit your registration details.
After the online submission, you’ll receive a letter from the Civil Aviation Department in the next 3-7 days.
The letter will contain a registration label along with a verification code.
Stick the label on your drone and make sure that it’s not on the propellor or battery or anywhere it can come off easily. Usually, the top of the drone isn’t a bad spot.
After sticking the registration sticker to your drone, take a picture of the drone and upload it to the eSUA portal. In order to submit the picture, you’ll be required to input the code in the letter.
And once you’ve submitted the picture, you’ll be issued an SUA Registration Certificate.
Congratulations, you’ve successfully registered yourself as the Remote Pilot and your drone as the eSUA!
Along with the new drone laws, the no-drone zones have also been updated.
The no-drone zones map can be found on the eSUA website or the eSUA app.
Only during day time.
Hong Kong has been one of the more chilled-out cities when it comes to drone laws and regulations. It was once called the wild frontier for drones.
Drones are a fairly common sight in Hong Kong, especially over the weekends when enthusiasts and hobbyists set out to open spaces to fly. The popular flying spots often get crowded on a sunny, clear day.
However, with the new laws coming into play in June 2022, I wonder if the city’s stand will change. I’ve already seen drone pilots getting fined for flying over Central (near IFC). So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Hong Kong is getting serious about regulating drones.
As this law is new, I’ll update this page with my personal experience as time goes by.
With the new drone laws, I advise avoiding the no-drone zones, no matter how strong the temptation is. Of course, there’s no knowing how strictly the new laws will be enforced. Other than that, Hong Kong is a very drone-friendly city.
If you’re a first-time drone pilot, go to Nam Sang Wai or Lower Shing Mun Reservoir to practice. There’s ample open space, no buildings or people. Remember, 70% of Hong Kong isn’t developed. So get out of the main city and find your spot.
And remember to always fly safe! Also if you’re flying anywhere near water, check out these waterproof drones – https://www.globosurfer.com/best-waterproof-drones/
Find out which drone and drone accessories I use, and recommend.