TL;DR, any drone with a camera, regardless of its weight, must be registered with the authorities in Thailand.
Drones laws in Thailand are regulated by two authorities, CAAT and NBTC.
All drones weighing more than 250 grams or any drone with a camera must be registered with both authorities.
Drone registration in Thailand is a slightly lengthy process and you should start the process at least two weeks prior to your departure to Thailand. I will do my best to highlight the steps to make the registration process easy to understand.
To be compliant with drone laws in Thailand, you must complete the following three steps.
Before registering your drone with the authorities, you need to first insure your drone. Without insurance, you cannot proceed with registering your drone.
I am sure there are a few drone insurance providers in Thailand, but I went with FEIC.
Their website is easy to navigate and I had no issues registering my drone with them.
Their lowest-tier plan is sufficient as the insurance liability limit covers THB 1 million, which is the minimum requirement.
After submitting the form, I received the drone insurance certificate within 2 days. This certificate can be used to register your drone with CAAT and NBTC.
The official insurance document can take up to 7 days to arrive. But the drone insurance certificate is sufficient to proceed to the next step.
Unlike most other countries that require drones to be registered only with the civil aviation authority, Thailand requires drones to be registered with two authorities.
The first is the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT). And the other is the Office of The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC).
The CAAT requires the registration of the drone and drone pilot. And the NBTC requires registration of the frequency used by the drone.
The process is also documented on the CAAT website.
To start the registration process, head to the CAAT website and create an account.
Once logged in, select Registration under the side menu and the option is applicable to you.
I am going to assume you picked “The Foreigner”.
Next, proceed to fill up the form along with a self-declaration. I found it odd that the self-declaration form was a separate form with no link to download it. But I was able to locate it on their website.
Once submitted, the approval process can take up to 15 days.
I didn’t receive an email telling me that my application had been approved. So, I had to check the status of the approval on the website.
To check the status, log in and click on History in the side menu.
I found a discrepancy in the translation. If your application is approved, it says “Request approval” in English. But the Thai version translates to “The request was approved”.
You can simultaneously also begin your NBTC application.
The registration process with the NBTC was slightly trickier because it cannot be completed or approved till you arrive in Thailand.
And that’s because the form requires:
But you can still fill in all the other details and save the form. You might need to Google the frequency and transmission power of your drone.
And there was a question about which NBTC district office applied to me. I wasn’t sure which one applied to me, so I picked number 42.
I also made the mistake of submitting my application with a document that said “visa on arrival” as proof of my visa and arrival stamp. Fortunately, I received an email stating that my application was fine and that I could update it with the proof once I arrived in Thailand.
After I arrived in Thailand, I updated my application and it took 1-2 days to get the approval email, which asked me to proceed with the fee payment.
The final step of the process was the most challenging for me because it involved making a payment, in person at a local bank. There was no option for online payment when I applied!
Once the NBTC application is approved, you will receive an email with a “Bill Payment Pay-IN Slip”.
My email stated that the fee payment can be made at Kasikorn Bank PCL or cross-bank bill payment via electronic channels. So, I located the closest Kasikorn Bank branch and walked in one morning.
However, I couldn’t make the payment because the bank told me that they no longer accepted such payments and that I should go to a Krung Thai Bank branch.
Unfortunately, there was no Krung Thai Bank near my hotel so I had to wait till I made a trip to go to Old Phuket Town to make the payment. Luckily, there is a 7-day window to make the payment.
I found this step to be slightly inconvenient. Although the Bill Payment Pay-IN Slip lists many banks that accept the payment, my experience was different.
I really wish there was an easier (online) payment method. Especially, as I imagine many tourists carry their drones into Thailand and if they stay in a small town, a bank might be hard to locate.
Anyway, once the NBTC fee is paid, all formalities regarding your Thailand drone registration are complete!
Only during day time.
There are also designated no-fly zones in Thailand. The list of no-fly locations and maps can be found on the CAAT website.
Yes, flying in and out of Thailand with your drone shouldn’t be a problem.
To be overcautious, carry printouts or PDFs of your approvals. You never know if you may need them.
Once you’re over the hurdles of registering your drone, it’s a joy to fly your drone in Thailand and capture incredible photos.
During my stay in Phuket, I saw plenty of drones along the beaches. However, I don’t advise flying over large crowds or within a city.
I also saw someone flying their drone next to the Big Buddha in Phuket. I don’t think it was allowed but no one said anything to them luckily.
Some high-end properties have their own drone rules. During our stay at one such property, there was a sign in the room telling guests that drones are not allowed on the premises.
I guess what they meant was that guests shouldn’t take off their drones from the hotel or fly over the property.
As with any country, follow the rules and apply common sense when flying your drone in Thailand.