What Are the Regulations for Drone Pilots in Iceland?

What Are the Regulations for Drone Pilots in Iceland?
What Are the Regulations for Drone Pilots in Iceland?

Drones, the soaring marvels of modern technology, have revolutionized our ability to capture the world from a unique vantage point. In Iceland, a land where nature's grandeur is on full display, drones offer an unparalleled opportunity to immortalize its stunning vistas. But with great power comes great responsibility.

Navigating the skies of Iceland isn't just about the thrill of flight; it's about understanding and respecting the local drone regulations. Whether you're a seasoned pilot or a beginner, this guide will equip you with the essential knowledge to ensure your drone adventure in Iceland is both memorable and compliant with the law.

What Are the Regulations for Drone Pilots in Iceland?

Open Category Regulations

The Open Category is designed for low-risk drone operations. Here are the key points:

  • Weight and Operation: Drones in this category should have a maximum take-off mass of less than 25 kilograms.
  • Visual Line of Sight: Operators must keep the drone within a visual line of sight at all times.
  • Maximum Altitude: The maximum altitude limit is 120 meters above ground level.
  • No Dangerous Goods: Drones should not carry or drop any dangerous materials.
  • Subcategories: This category is divided into three subcategories (A1, A2, A3) based on proximity to people. A1 allows flying over people, A2 close to people, and A3 far from people​​.

Specific Category Regulations

For moderate-risk operations, the Specific Category is applicable:

  • Authorization: Operations in this category require authorization based on an operational risk assessment.
  • Risk Mitigation: Permissions are granted considering the mitigation measures identified.
  • Complex Operations: This category includes more complex operations than the Open Category​​.

Certified Category Regulations

The Certified Category is for high-risk drone operations:

  • Certification and Licensing: Requires certification of the drone and a licensed remote pilot.
  • High-Risk Operations: This category is suitable for drones capable of carrying people or those used in high-risk areas​​.

Registration and Insurance Requirements


  • Mandatory for UAS Operators: All drone operators must register, especially if the drone weighs more than 250 grams or is equipped with a camera or microphone.
  • Validity and Renewal: The registration number is valid for one year and must be renewed periodically.
  • Operator vs. Pilot: The person or entity overseeing operations is the UAS Operator, whereas the UAS Pilot is physically controlling the drone​​.


  • Compulsory for Commercial Operations: Commercial drone operators must have insurance coverage of at least 1 million EUR.
  • Recommendation for Hobbyists: Although not mandatory, insurance is recommended for hobbyists for better safety and liability coverage​​.

EU and Non-EU Drone Pilot Requirements

EU Resident Visitors

  • Recognition of Existing Certifications: If already registered or certified in an EU country, the credentials are valid in Iceland.
  • Follow Local Category Rules: Drone operations must adhere to the category-specific rules in Iceland​​.

Non-EU Residents

  • Mandatory Registration: Non-EU residents must register as an Operator upon their first drone flight in an EU country.
  • Remote Pilot Certificate: Non-EU residents need a Remote Pilot Certificate from an EU country to fly a drone in Iceland​​.

Notes for Recreational and Commercial Drone Services

  • Category Selection: Most drone flights fall under the Open Category, but specific and certified categories may apply based on the operation's complexity and risk​​.
  • Compliance with Rules: Understanding and following the specific rules of each category is essential for safe and legal operations.

No Fly Zones in Iceland

  • Understanding Restrictions: It’s important to know the limitations and authorization requirements for operating drones in No Fly Zones.
  • Respecting Boundaries: Pilots must refrain from flying in restricted areas and maintain a safe distance from airports and heliports​​.

FAQs on Drone Regulations in Iceland

Do I need to register my drone in Iceland?

Yes, drone registration is required in Iceland. The Icelandic Transport Authority (Samgöngustofa) mandates that all drones weighing 250 grams or more must be registered before operating in Icelandic airspace. Registration involves providing your personal details and information about your drone. It's essential to familiarize yourself with the specific regulations and requirements to ensure compliance and responsible drone use in Iceland.

Is insurance required for flying a drone in Iceland?

Yes, insurance is mandatory for flying a drone in Iceland. The Icelandic Transport Authority (Icetra) requires drone operators to have liability insurance that covers potential damage or accidents caused by the drone. This insurance is essential to ensure responsible and safe drone operation, protecting both operators and the public in case of unforeseen incidents. It is advisable for drone pilots to verify and comply with the specific insurance requirements set by Icetra before flying in Icelandic airspace.

Can non-EU residents fly drones in Iceland?

Yes, non-EU residents can fly drones in Iceland. The Icelandic Transport Authority (Samgöngustofa) oversees drone regulations. All drone operators, including non-EU residents, must adhere to specific rules. These generally include maintaining a maximum altitude of 120 meters, avoiding restricted areas, and respecting privacy and safety guidelines. It is crucial to check and comply with the latest regulations before flying a drone in Iceland, as they may be subject to updates.

Are there any no-fly zones for drones in Iceland?

Yes, there are several no-fly zones for drones in Iceland. It is prohibited to fly drones near airports, heliports, and other areas with manned aviation activities. Additionally, flying drones close to certain landmarks, such as national parks, cultural sites, and critical infrastructure, is restricted. The Icelandic Transport Authority (ICETRA) provides specific guidelines and regulations for drone operators to ensure safety and compliance with local laws. It is essential for drone pilots to familiarize themselves with these regulations and obtain any required permits before flying in Iceland.

What are the main categories for drone flights in Iceland?

1. Recreational Drone Flights: Recreational drone flights in Iceland are popular among hobbyists and tourists. To fly recreationally, operators must adhere to general guidelines, such as maintaining a safe distance from people and property, avoiding crowded areas, and respecting the country's natural environment. Registration may be required for certain drones.

2. Commercial Drone Flights: Commercial drone operations involve using unmanned aerial vehicles for business purposes. Operators must obtain the necessary permits from the Icelandic Transport Authority (ICETRA) and comply with specific regulations, including safety measures, insurance, and adherence to flight restrictions.

3. Research and Scientific Drone Flights: Researchers and scientists often use drones in Iceland for various purposes, including environmental monitoring, wildlife studies, and geological research. Special permissions may be required, and operators must work closely with relevant authorities to ensure compliance with regulations and environmental protection measures.

4. Filming and Photography Drone Flights: Drones are widely used for capturing breathtaking aerial footage and photography in Iceland. Filmmakers and photographers need to obtain permits from ICETRA for commercial aerial work, ensuring that their operations comply with safety regulations and respect the privacy of individuals.

5. Emergency and Search-and-Rescue Drone Operations: Drones play a crucial role in emergency situations, such as search-and-rescue missions. Authorized organizations and emergency services utilize drones to enhance their capabilities in locating missing persons, assessing disaster areas, and providing real-time information for effective response efforts.

6. Agricultural Drone Applications: In the agricultural sector, drones are employed for tasks like crop monitoring, pest control, and precision agriculture. Farmers and agricultural businesses must obtain necessary permissions and adhere to regulations while utilizing drones for farming-related activities.

Note: Always check for the latest regulations and guidelines, as they may be subject to change. It's crucial to stay informed and comply with Icelandic aviation authorities' requirements for safe and legal drone flights in the country.

What is the maximum altitude for flying a drone in the Open Category?

In the Open Category, the maximum altitude for flying a drone depends on the specific regulations of the country in which you are operating. Altitude limits are typically defined by national aviation authorities and may vary. It is crucial to refer to the local drone regulations and guidelines provided by the relevant aviation authority to ensure compliance with specific altitude restrictions. Always check and adhere to the rules and regulations in your region to promote safe and responsible drone operation.


Navigating the regulations for drone pilots in Iceland is essential for both legal and safe drone operation in this stunning country. Whether you are a hobbyist or a commercial pilot, understanding and adhering to these rules, from registration to operating within designated categories and respecting no-fly zones, is paramount. By staying informed and compliant, drone pilots can enjoy the breathtaking Icelandic landscapes while ensuring the safety and privacy of others. Remember, responsible drone use not only protects you but also preserves the serene and unspoiled beauty of Iceland for everyone to enjoy.

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