Drones in Namibia


Drones are becoming more and more popular. You see drone footage everywhere on social media, so the use of private drones is also increasing. In the last few weeks, I have received several enquiries from future Namibia travellers on this topic. I don't own a drone and have never flown one, so I had to find someone who really knows what they are doing and help me write this post for you!


I've been following @stefan_redecker on Instagram for a while now, he captured the Swakop River flowing into the Atlantic Ocean with his drone during the last rainy season. First time in eleven years!

He wrote me a super detailed email with all the important information and I'm sharing it with you here:


There are some rules that you should follow, the rules are getting stricter and stricter because people have completely misbehaved in the past. Please don't do that! It is understandable that everyone wants to have THE shot, but please fly with reason.

Every commercial flight must be registered at least 30 days before departure, a risk assessment must be made and a flight plan must be drawn up. Google Earth.kmz must be provided and if in Restricted Airspace, radio contact must be maintained with the Airtower. The flight must be authorised before take-off and signed off after landing. During the flight, the radio must be listened to so that all flights can be watched out for and aborted.

As a tourist, you may bring your drone into the country and fly it, but only for recreational use. This should be registered with the NCAA (Namibia Civil Aviation Authority) beforehand. As soon as money is earned with it, you have to apply for a commercial licence, which is much more complicated.

Stefan says:


In a nutshell, I would advise every drone pilot to do the following:

  • Namibia is a perfect country to take aerial photos and videos, there are insanely beautiful landscapes and a lot of space for it.

It can be a lot of fun, but it must be flown with human understanding and respect:

  • Drones must be registered with the NCAA prior to arrival NCAA (Further details below).

  • Never fly in nature reserves - There is a lot of poaching with drones especially rhinos and therefore you have to be very careful.

  • Unfortunately, it is now strictly forbidden in Sossusvlei and Etosha because pilots have already misbehaved and flown disrespectfully.

Do not fly:

  • within 5 nautical miles (9.3km) of any airport or airstrip

  • Above people or cities and at lodges

  • Nationalparks

  • At night

  • near animals

There are many suitable places in this country where you can fly "in peace" and we ask all threatening pilots to stick to the rules so that we can all still fly a lot in the future!



Here are a few FAQ's:


Recreational/private use of drones allowed?

  • Yes, after registration and approval

Commercial use of drones allowed?

  • Yes, after registration, payment and approval

Maximale Höhe:

  • 150ft (50m) in uncontrolled airspace

Is insurance for drones mandatory?

  • Yes, for private and commercial drone flights

Does the drone have to have a badge?

  • Not for private use, but for commercial flights it needs an aircraft registration.

Is this registration necessary?

  • Yes!

Stay out of commercial airspace:

Keep your distance from airports - 5 nautical miles and do not fly when other manned aircraft are nearby.


Take care of your licences early enough! The clocks tick differently here, what might take 2 weeks in Germany takes 2 months here.


Namibia Civil Aviation Authority:

E-mail: rpas@dca.com.na

Phone: +264 61 70 2005


All forms for download here:

http://www.ncaa.com.na/index.php/documents/applications-forms/12-flight-operations/11-remote-piloting-rpas

Individuals must apply for an RPAS Letter of Approval (RLA). This application must be made by foreigners at least 60 days in advance and must contain the following information:

  • A formal letter of application to the Executive Director of the Namibia Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) stating the purpose of the drone flights and their intended duration.

  • A map showing the designated flying areas and the coordinates of the ascent site.

  • Risk analysis and a "safety management plan".

  • Documentation of the aircraft showing the technical status of the drone.

  • Proof of drone insurance that also covers third party damage in Namibia

  • Proof of payment for the transfer of the processing fee of currently 1,200 NAD (approx. 80 euros).

As you can see, it is extremely time-consuming to get official approval from the NCAA. I doubt it's worth it for a private holiday.


It gets even more complicated for commercial pilots. You have to apply for a certificate of operator (ROC). Foreign pilots have to expect a processing time of at least 120 days. You must submit the following documents for the application:

  • A formal letter of application to the Executive Director of the Namibia Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) stating the purpose of the drone flights and their intended duration.

  • An aviation licence.

  • Proof of registration of all drones.

  • RLA for each individual drone.

  • Operations Manual as required by the NCAA.

  • Proof of payment for the transfer of the processing fee of currently 4,500 NAD (approx. 308 euros).

  • Each drone can only be registered under one ROC. This means that each commercial drone can be assigned to exactly one pilot.

You will probably not only want to fly your drone, but also take photos with it. If you are a tourist in Namibia and only film or take photos, you have fewer restrictions. All other photographers and filmmakers need a permit and a temporary work visa. The Namibia Film Commission is responsible for the permit. Flights into national parks must also be approved by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism.


Drone flights in Namibian national parks

For many tourists, using a drone in the national parks is indeed a tempting idea. Poachers also use drones. The fact is that drones can disturb wildlife. The legislator had good reasons to ban the use of drones in national parks. This ban applies at a distance of 9.3 kilometres (5 nautical miles) around protected areas.


If you still want to fly in a national park or reserve, you need the permission of the NCAA and the permission of the responsible nature conservation authority. Those who cannot show these and are caught by a ranger must expect fines.


Other rules for operating drones in Namibia

Irrespective of the NCAA permit, you must obtain written permission from the land owners (individuals, authorities, organisations) before each flight. This obligation applies to both private and commercial drone pilots. When using drones, all issued permits must be carried.


Drones are only allowed to operate in Namibia during daylight hours and within visual range. Multicopters are not allowed to fly over crowds.


A distance of 9.3 kilometres (five nautical miles) must be maintained for the outer boundary of airfields in Namibia. Keep a distance of 50 metres from uninvolved persons, other objects (e.g. vehicles, buildings, etc.) and roads. Public roads must not be used as take-off and landing areas.

Here is another excerpt:

"Whether a drone is taking off from a Windhoek backyard to catch the last views of Namibia's spectacular sunsets or being used to capture high-resolution images of a construction site, flying a drone in the country means that it is subject to Namibian airspace laws.

In fact, the Namibian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) currently requires all drone operators in the country to register their drones and apply to the authority for a Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) approval letter

Explaining the simplicity of the registration process for drone pilots, Daniella Bruckert of the NCAA said it could be done electronically as all the required forms and procedures were available on the NCAA website.

This stringent requirement comes as both private and commercial use of drones continues to grow worldwide, which required the development and enforcement of modern regulations. These laws are specifically designed with the increase in dangerous and irresponsible drone flights in mind.

Namibia's current drone operation regulations, called NAM-CAR Part 101, 2020, apply to RPAS (drones and other remotely piloted aircraft), as published in Government Gazette No. 7157 on 27 March 2020.

Drone operators who do not comply with these regulations will face a heavy fine and a possible ban from operating RPAS in Namibian airspace.


"The increasing use of RPAS and more complex operations by RPAS, as well as an increased desire to improve the safety of RPAS operations in Namibia, led to the rewrite of Part 101 ... The increasing complexity of RPAS and the expansion of the RPAS market may have this We will be reviewing the RPAS regulations soon, particularly the licensing of RPAS pilots and the operation of complex modalities in the commercial sector," Bruckert said in response to questions from Inside Business.


Bruckert explained that while currently all RPAS in Namibia must be registered if they are permanently based in the country, "it may be necessary to amend the registration laws in the future".

This is because while drone regulations are the responsibility of aviation authorities, drones pose a new problem in enforcing regulations, as drone operators are sometimes difficult to track down. Given the low risk of consequences and the easy availability of powerful drones, aviation authorities have found it difficult to get some drone owners to comply."


In conclusion, all you can say is:

Just because you think: "I'm only in the country for 14 days, I don't need a licence for that". Yes you do, this country seems to work slower than European countries and that's why so many don't follow the rules. Nevertheless, there are already some countries that don't even allow you to bring your drone into the country and that's what Stefan and I want to prevent with this post. Stick to the rules and enjoy your stay. And sometimes it's also nice to enjoy the moment and put the cameras aside.


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