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Drones have become a very popular way to have fun in recent years. Drones used to only be used for businesses or military purposes but as the cost of technology has continued to go down so has the cost of drones which in turn has made them affordable for just about everyone.
Since many more people have purchased drones in recent years there has been a huge increase in the number of people that buy them and don’t know what they can and cannot do with them.
That is where this article comes from. We wanted to help answer one of the most common questions that new drone owners have and that is whether drones are allowed to be used in residential areas.
Whether drones are allowed in a residential area varies based on your country. Many countries allow flying a drone in residential areas while some do not. In the USA you are not supposed to fly a drone over private property without the property owners permission so if you have a house then per the rules you can fly your drone around your own property in a residential area without any issues.
However it can be difficult to keep your drone only above your property so it is normally better to only fly your drone in an open area such as a park so that way you are not at risk of being over someone else’s property. It is difficult to determine where exactly the property lines are in the air so when you are a few hundred feet up it would be almost impossible to tell if you are over yours or the neighbors property.
Normally if you are flying a drone a few hundred feet up then it won’t be an issue as most people won’t know or care if a drone is that far above their roof but they of course don’t want you using your drone to be peeping in their windows!
If you are a new drone owner there are many additional rules that you need to keep in mind when flying your drone. We will go over some of the most important ones next.
If you would prefer to watch a video instead of reading these rules you can learn all about rules for flying a drone in the video below.
The Rules you need to know flying a drone
There are quite a few rules that govern using a drone and these rules can change based on if you are just flying for fun or flying commercially (such as taking pictures or videos and selling them). It would take a very long time to list and describe all of the rules that there are but below we will give you the five most important rules that you need to remember when flying your drone.
Stay below the maximum allowable altitude
As a general rule from all aviation authorities, you should only fly a drone below 400 feet in order to avoid conflict with aircraft like planes and helicopters. This rule is for the USA but it can vary from country to country. For example, in Canada you can fly a drone at a maximum height of 90 meters or 295 feet. If you are flying outside of the USA or Canada you will want to make sure to find out what that country’s laws are so that way you can stay below that height.
It’s your responsibility to make sure that your drone stays within the required limits.
Don’t fly over people
Flying drones over any people is not allowed no matter if it is a group or a single person. No matter if you are on a crowded beach or in a local park flying a drone over someone is a big no no.
If you are multiple hundreds of feet in the air then you will likely be fine just quickly flying over people but you should know that doing so even when you are a long way above them is still against the FAA rules.
Always be alert and stay away from crowded places like stadiums, public events, and community events.
Maintain a visual line of sight
Make sure that you can see your drone from where you are at at all times. Always check your local weather because if you are unable to see your drone because of fog then you will be in violation of this rule.
This rule is really all about safety as if you cannot see your drone you could easily lose connection with it and in turn it could crash and hurt someone or something. Just because you can see your drone on your cell phone or other screen does not count for maintaining a line of sight.
Don’t fly after dark
Do not fly your drone after dark even if your drone has lights that make it visible at night. Dark is considered 30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset and again this rule is in place to prevent you from accidentally running into someone or something that you can’t see because of the dark.
Fly in accordance with the community-based guidelines
Every city has its own guidelines for flying a drone. For example if your area is near to the airport then you might not be permitted to fly a drone anywhere close to the airstrip or to where the planes begin their descent. There might also be specific rules in your city or state about flying in local parks or state parks as well.
So make sure to check with your local authority so that you can be sure to observe and abide by those rules.
These are the general rules for flying a drone that you must maintain. Always be respectful of the law and try to follow it as closely as possible. If you get in trouble with your local authorities it is always best to do what they say and then afterwards you can see if they were right or not.
Since new drone rules are being put in place all of the time it can be difficult for you as well as the police to keep up on them all so it is always best to simply accept what they say and if they ask you to stop flying where you are then do so.
List of countries where drones are banned or restricted
There are many different countries where drone use is not allowed at all or it is severely restricted. SOme countries won’t even allow you to bring a drone into the country if you are flying in so make sure that if you are traveling with a drone you know what the laws are before you ever leave the USA.
In Belgium, you can fly a drone but you have to follow their rules strictly. They allow you to fly if you have a drone license but you can only go 45m high (150ft) if you are a class 2 operator or 90m (300ft) if you are a class 1b operator. More details about the different classes can be found here.
Nicaragua banned drones in their country which means you are not allowed to get into the country at all with a drone. If you are flying to this country you will want to leave the drone at home.
Morocco is also the same as Nicaragua which means you can’t buy drones without proper reason and cannot take drones in from other countries.
Fiji is very much restrictive when it comes to drones. It is almost impossible to get through the registration process to be able to fly your drone legally in that country.
Drones are banned entirely in Zambia.
Drones are also banned in North Korea, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kenya, India, Iran, and Ethiopia. The funny thing is in Saudi Arabia you can buy drones but you cannot go through customs with one. These countries are all highly restrictive about drones and without an official purpose they are entirely banned.
Some countries also severely restrict drone usage like the UAE, Canada, Croatia, Slovakia, Spain, Denmark, Russia, and Belize. For these countries you have to follow a strict set of rules and violating those rules could result in serious fines or even other worse actions.
Go to your aviation authority or their website and find out what exactly the rules are before you ever take off. This is especially important in other countries that can do far worse to tourists than simply giving them a ticket!
Can I fly my drone higher than 400 feet AGL?
Under Part 107, a Remote Pilot-in-Command cannot fly an unmanned aircraft higher than 400 feet above ground level (AGL), unless it’s flown within a 400-foot radius of a structure and does not fly higher than 400 feet above the structure’s roofline.
If you fly your drones over 400 feet then you will be entering controlled airspace and it can be dangerous because there is a chance you will come into contact with planes or helicopters. The height can vary based on your city or state but 400ft is a good rule of thumb if you are in the USA.
Danger of drones
Drones are a lot of fun to use whether to take amazing photos or simply to enjoy flying around, however they are not without risks. The number of close encounters between airplanes and drones continues to grow and here in the United States, the FAA says it receives over a hundred new reports every month.
The amount of damage that a drone can cause depends on two things, first of all, the size and second the drones speed. Most hobby drones weigh less than ten pounds and can’t fly very high but bigger and heavier machines are out there and are becoming cheaper and more prevalent all of the time. If the operator loses control then it can be deadly, particularly if the collision were to damage a plane’s control surfaces, stabilizers, tail or cockpit.
A jetliner traveling at 250 miles per hour hitting a 25-pound UAS creates about 40,000 pounds of impact force.
Since you can’t fly drones above 400 feet and within 5 miles of airport areas these crashes should not happen but the problem is many operators either don’t know about these regulations or simply refuse to follow them. Small drones are invisible to air traffic control and onboard radar so there is no way for a pilot or someone guiding the pilot to know that a drone is in the wrong spot until it is too late!
Drones can also be dangerous if the person flying them is inexperienced or doesn’t use common sense. If you were to fly a drone over an area full of people and the drone was to lose power it would crash and could easily hurt or kill someone when it fell. That is why the rules mentioned earlier in this article are vitally important and you should never fly a drone over someone or their property.
Drones in the USA are allowed to be used in residential areas as long as you stay over your own property. However this rule certainly could be changed in the future as no one likes the possibility of someone recording them in their own house or yard using a flying drone.
To be on the same side it is best to only fly your drone in large open areas where you would not have a chance of making your neighbors upset.
Following the rules and guidelines put out by the FAA (or your aviation authority if you are outside the USA) will help keep your drone flights safe as well as keep you from getting in trouble with local officials. Always make sure to find out what the rules and laws are in the city, state, or country that you are at before your drone ever leaves the ground.