With the rise in popularity of aerial photography, the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) and the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA) are clamping down on any individual or organisation that attempts to fly a drone without the required licence and registration.
In fact, failure to comply with aviation law for Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) and drones now carries a substantial fine of up to fifty thousand Dirhams with the possibility of imprisonment.
So before you take off, find out how you can obtain a drone licence in Dubai with our help.
Register your drone with the GCAA
Whilst registering a drone for recreational use is relatively straightforward, the process becomes more complicated and time consuming when registering for commercial use.
Many organisations seek professional support from business setup and licensing companies like Virtuzone when registering for a drone licence in Dubai because the application process is very detailed and protracted. Missing or inaccurate information can result in a business being denied registration.
To start with, both the operator and the drone must be registered with the GCAA and hold a valid GCAA Drone Registration Certificate.
It also needs underlining that if you intend using your drone licence for commercial purposes, you need to set up a business on the mainland.
How to register your drone with the GCAA
To register your organisation and obtain Unmanned Aircraft Operator Authorisation (UOA) to operate drones in the UAE, you will need to submit the following documents to GCAA:
- Security clearance issued by GCAA.
- “UA operator registration letter” which should be printed on company letterhead.
- Subscription to GCAA E-Publications service, sending evidence of this subscription to GCAA.
- Proof of Insurance – in 2017, the UAE announced compulsory minimum insurance requirements for commercial use drones and imposed a minimum liability of AED 3.67 million.
It will take around three weeks to receive Unmanned Aircraft Operator Authorisation (UOA) assuming all information supplied is accurate.
Note: you are still not authorised to operate a drone at this time. Commercial drone operators must then pass the UAS GCAA exam before moving on to complete the remaining steps below.
Register your drone with the DCAA
In addition to the rules established by the GCAA, anyone who wishes to fly a drone in Dubai must also follow the rules established by the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA).
How to register your drone with the DCAA
In accordance with DCAA, to fly a drone in Dubai you must:
- Register for an operator training certificate program that is endorsed by the DCAA to gain Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) certification.
- Register your drone with the DCAA and submit the following information: company name and address, company trade/commercial licence, Emirates ID, passport copy with visa page (non-national), passport photo on a white background, RPAS type/model, RPAS photo, RPAS serial number, operator training certificate, insurance and more.
- Obtain a no objection certificate from DCAA.
Apply for a No Objection Certification for aerial work
All organisations must obtain a No Objection Certificate (NOC) for Aerial Works in the Emirate of Dubai before operating a drone.
How to apply for a NOC
Your organisation (or an elected business management company, like Virtuzone) will need to use the e-Government portal to apply for an NOC and manage the application.
The process requires that the business gathers and submits an extensive list of documentation, including a Request Letter, commercial/trade licence, DCAA RPAS Registration Number, RPAS Operator company name and contact number, Event Descriptions, RPAS/UAV/Drones Type and Serial Number, Insurance and Safety Assessment completion document.
Applying for operational permission before your drone flight
Depending on where you plan to fly and on the information you are planning to capture, your organisation may be required to obtain operational approval and / or security clearance before a flight.
Managing your drone flights
The first step is to identify which zone you are flying in.
The UAE Drone Fly Zone Map app allows you to determine if your planned flight is in a red or green zone, and subsequently which permissions are required.
You will need to apply for Unmanned Aircraft Operator Authorisation (UOA) for each drone flying activity that falls within a red zone.
To help improve the management of drone flights in different locations, the GCAA has developed the My Drone Hub app for Emirate ID card holders who are registered with the GCAA. This app enables Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) and drones / operators to shoot videos and take photographs in pre approved ‘free fly’ locations and at heights specified by the local authorities (up to a maximum of 400 feet).
Both apps are available in the Android and iTunes app store.
GCAA and DCAA forbid flying drones near airports, and federal / municipal authorities disallow flying drones over residential areas to protect people’s privacy.
Obtain necessary approvals
If you are using your drone for filming or to capture images, you may need to obtain approval from the relevant organisation or professional body.
Which approvals do I need to obtain?
Depending on how you intend to use the material, a drone used for filming may require approval from Dubai Film and TV Commission (DFTC) who in turn will seek approval from the Ministry of Defence. This could cost upwards of AED 3,300.
You will need to explore usage rights for photography or film for the purpose of land surveying, construction and general commercial use, taking into consideration any private or publicly owned buildings or structures that may appear in your footage.
You’re ready to get your drone licence in Dubai
We’ve shared the essentials of how you can obtain your Dubai drone licence today.
However, it is essential that drone operators and businesses keep up to date with evolving regulatory frameworks for UAS/drone operations in the UAE.
To save time and worry when managing your Dubai drone licence, consider enlisting the help of professionals like Virtuzone who will manage the entire process for you.