A guide on how to register your drone in Thailand
Thailand is a very popular place, drones are a very popular piece of equipment, but unfortunately the two don’t mix and match easily.
It’s a hard thing to do, to find information on how to register your drone in Thailand. The information is always subject to hearsay and there’s a number of reasons for this.
- People writing blog posts about something they don’t understand or haven’t done themselves.
- People misinterpreting what is written by others and spreading the information.
- The information changing quickly in a world that is constantly trying to keep up.
- The translation issues involved with foreign speaking languages.
- The lack of a fixed and consistent approach by the regulating bodies in treating all applications as the same thing, often changing the rules as they see fit without much reason or warning.
Because of all these reasons, it is hard to find out how to register your drone in Thailand, and because of this, all I can do is show you exactly what I did, which I can only assume will work for others as well.
So in this guide, I will show you exactly what I did, with images for assistance, in the hope that it works for you as well.
I personally fly the DJI Mavic 2 Pro (affiliate link) and have successfully gone through the process below, so I know it works from first hand experience.
You will be glad you put the effort in when you get to places like Ao Nang with the beautiful nearby beaches of Railay Beach (pictured below).
Affiliate links may be present on this page. These are links to websites such as Amazon, where if you decide to purchase something, then they will offer me a tiny commission. This comes at no extra cost to you and is just a way for me to try and support myself and the blog. I only link to the best of the best with careful consideration, thank you.
Who needs to register their drones?
If you plan on flying your drone on your next trip to Thailand, then it would be worth being well prepared in advance.
I am not going to tell you whether it is worth it or not, that’s for you to decide, they definitely don’t make it easy for you so it depends on how much you enjoy flying.
This guide is going to focus on recreational flyers, drones under 2kg that are equipped with a camera (as this is the most common type of drone there is).
How to register your drone in Thailand?
There’s a combination of two separate registrations here that lead to you being able to fly your drone. The good part is that one of these is completed online, the bad part is that the translations are horrible.
Part 1: CAAT Registration (Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand)
Part 2: NBTC Registration (National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission)
We’ll do this in the chronological order of how you should go through the process from start to finish.
This means starting with the online applications before you even leave your home country, because processing times are inconsistent at best.
Part 1: CAAT Registration (online)
Who are CAAT?
CAAT are the aviation authorities, your drone flies, therefore they want to know about it. It seems simple enough.
We’ll concentrate on the registration process before we discuss some of the rules of flying in Thailand as outlined here in this official CAAT document.
CAAT presents the first hurdle in knowing how to register your drone in Thailand, and this is largely due to their website being confusing to navigate and the translations leaving a lot to the imagination.
What do you need to have before registering?
Before you click the link below to get started just know that there’s a few things you need to secure before starting the process in the first place.
- Visa (generally a tourist visa but your situation could be different)
- Drone 3rd party liability insurance of at least 1,000,000 THB (~$33,000 US, $48,000 AUD, £26,000 and €30,000)
- Pictures of your drone serial number
Finding insurance (for Australians)
I found this difficult to do, but I went through Shielded Insurance and found them to be easy to deal with. I don’t know what to recommend for those outside of Australia though.
The cost was just over $500 for the year, it included worldwide coverage (excluding Canada and the U.S.A) as well as theft and damage protection, not just the public liability. The public liability was $10,000,000 which easily covered the requirement of CAAT.
Once you have all of the above stuff sorted out then you can go to the official website to start the registration process.
How long does it take for CAAT to approve a correctly filled out application?
This will change depending on the season and how many applications they are getting through.
For me personally it took 42 days. I applied on the 7th of January and finally got approved on the 18th of February.
I also had a “failed application” which was also submitted on the 7th of January, but this was merely a case of the website crashing as I tried to upload documents.
After they emailed me about the fact that this application had no documents I used their direct email address to keep them honest about the application I actually wanted to hear about.
As frustrating as it was, the “failed application” email was sent about 10 days before they finally approved the successful application, despite the two being done mere hours apart!
So I would advise sending the odd email, maybe once a week if your application extends beyond 21 days or so.
How to register your drone in Thailand with CAAT – A step by step guide
- The website as you enter will look something like this, use Google Chrome as it is not supported by Safari at the time of writing and specifically mentions that you use Chrome
- Scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the following;
- For those who are registering for the first time and not continuing a registration then click the box to the right as circled in the image above
- There are three separate tabs that will show up for you to read, as pointed out by the arrows in the image above
- Each tab has a check box that needs to be ticked to say that you understand the conditions and local laws
- This last tab has documents you can download and read in English. For those who want to know, this is the document here
- See the check box described before and make sure all 3 tabs have had their check boxes ticked and then go to the next step
- Fill out all of your details here.
- Where it says “ID card number (Thai Nationality)” just leave it blank. It asks you to write “Passport” but it only gave me the ability to input numbers and not letters.
- The asterisk seems to signify that it must be filled out but it never stopped me from progressing to the next stage, however if it lets you type something other than numbers, simply write “Passport” in that field.
- Create your own password which you can use to log in again to check the progress of your application (see the first picture, to the left of the circled button I told you to press as a first time user.
- After creating the account I was taken to this screen which appears to be the backend.
- I clicked the circled button to register as a foreigner.
- I was then taken here which is the beginning of your application process.
- I clicked the “New Registration” button and listed my drone as less than 2kg (mine is a DJI Mavic 2 Pro).
- Briefly describe what you do for work.
- The greyed out boxes are pre-filled from your sign up information.
- The age will automatically calculate via you date of birth (funnily enough it got my age wrong despite the DOB information).
- The rest is self explanatory, whatever your ethnicity, for some reason they want to know.
- Underneath that section comes the address.
- You’ll notice some things tend to repeat themselves but just write it in a second time (eg: Street / Road, District / Sub-District).
- I used my home address since the application is for foreigners.
- I was unsure whether they wanted a Thai address or not.
- This can get confusing as some of the information is required but becomes a double up again.
- The “Equipment List” was pre-filled for me but you can edit it to suit your drone.
- I had the same number for “Number of engine” and “Serial No.” because I wasn’t sure what exactly the engine number meant.
- The rest you can find in the specifications of your drone, on the manufacturers websites.
- Tick the box that is relevant, which will probably be boxes 1 and 3 (ticking one box may automatically tick another box for you).
- If you want to let your friends fly it as well on holiday then fill out all potential pilots information here. I simply wrote my own name and information and listed as a foreigner obviously.
- I wrote the same thing here for “Number of insurance” and “Serial No.”
- Both of which was just the insurance policy number of my insurance for the public liability.
- Then I converted the $10,000,000 into THB and filled out that section.
- The “Type of insurance” I think I put “unidentified controller” because this translation made no sense to me whatsoever and I just guessed 🙂
- Another section here that suffers from poor information and poor translation.
1.) Upload the signed declaration form (you can use the links to download it).
1.1) I uploaded the exact same form again as above, because I am the controller and the applicant.
2.) I just uploaded a copy of my Australian driver’s licence.
3.) This one I had no idea what to do, so I uploaded a combined PDF with my driver’s licence again (showing my home address) and a booking confirmation for accommodation in Thailand (in case they wanted a Thai address). I was basically hedging my bets, because “house registration” means zilch to me.
4.) This time I made another combined PDF showing both the main page of my passport, as well as a scan of my tourist visa from that same passport, this way they had both in one document.
5.) A copy of the 3rd party liability insurance. Note that my insurance policy did not have the weight of the drone but it did have everything else that they ask for. I’d recommend being strict with your insurance provider and getting everything you need on your policy before starting!
6.) I had a document with a few different photos here, the serial number on the wing, the battery compartment, the remote control and the side of the gimbal. Again though, this is just to cover my arse.
CONGRATULATIONS YOU HAVE FINISHED THE PROCESS!!
You just need to wait now and hope that all of your documents are up to scratch. The time it takes to be approved can change from person to person, especially during peak tourist season.
Get all your documents sorted and with nice clear pictures and then hope for the best.
Part 2: NBTC Registration (in person)
Who are NBTC?
NBTC are the telecommunications authority of Thailand, and because your drone is a device emitting radio frequencies they also ask for it to be registered through them as well.
You will need to have both registrations to fly legally.
What do you need to have before registering?
To register with NBTC you need to take in;
- Photograph showing the drone serial number.
- Photograph showing the remote controller serial number.
- Photograph of front, back and side of drone (as required in the คท30 form).
- Booking confirmation or something showing the address where you’re staying.
- A photocopy of your passport.
- A completed คท32 form – Owner’s Declaration of Conformity.
- A completed คท30 form – UAV’s Radio Equipment Registration.
How to register your drone in Thailand with NBTC
Depending on where you are in Thailand, head to your nearest NBTC office.
I have an entire post dedicated to the locations of the NBTC offices, including a map with pinpoint accuracy of 15 of the 17 locations in Thailand. Unfortunately Chiang Rai and Prachinburi are two offices that I was unable to locate anywhere.
Check it out for further details on where to go.
Basically though, once you have picked your location (Bangkok, Phuket and Chiang Mai being the most likely to have dealt with tourists before), then you simply go there without the need to book an appointment.
Try to have all, or as much as you can of the documents filled out. Have printed copies of everything before you go because there are people that say they will not let you print things off using their offices.
The process will not take long if you are well organised, you can be in and out in less than 20 minutes if there are no delays in waiting to be seen. This to me is the easy part, in comparison to the CAAT application.
That’s it! This one is definitely the quicker one of the two.
My experience registering the drone in Phuket
I used the Phuket office for my NBTC registration. It is roughly a 30 minute scooter ride from Kata beach, even less if you’re in Patong.
The process took about 20-25 minutes, but may take slightly longer if your forms are not filled out.
They have all the forms there in English if you were unable to print them before going.
Despite what was said about all the photos of the drone, he only wanted to take the remote control serial number photo, as well as a photo I had showing the entire drone without its battery, so the drone’s serial number was visible in the battery compartment.
They say you don’t need to take your drone, but he did ask to see it when I went there so I would suggest people take their drones anyway as it is no hassle at all.
The staff will help you with the forms so don’t stress if you’re unsure about a line on the form. They know what they need on their end and will walk you through it until everything is tidy and complete 🙂
This is the front gate to the complex in Phuket that you will need to enter.
As you enter the gate and go up the driveway, this building will be on your right hand side, it is the NBTC office that you want to enter.
Other things to note about registering
These two registrations will only be valid for the duration of the visa that they are applied for under, so if you leave the country and come back in on a new visa, you won’t be allowed to fly.
It’s up to you to decide whether it is worth the hassle of going through all of this process. Keep in mind that a lot of your favourite places in Thailand are more than likely no fly zones.
Places of religious significance, busy touristy beaches, national parks etc. can all be considered no fly zones unless specifically stated otherwise or you get permission from an authority.
Drone laws in Thailand
If you went through the CAAT registration process already you’ve probably read this document back to front numerous times before you checked all those acceptance checkboxes (or you didn’t, like most people).
To summarise some of the main points;
- Don’t fly over 90 metres high
- Must have a line of sight with the drone at all times
- Fly between sunrise and sunset only’
- Must not fly within 9km of any airport or airfield
- Must not fly over cities, villages or communities where people are gathered
- Must not fly over crowded public places
- Must not fly in a way that will cause harm to people or property
You won’t be able to fly in the majority, if not all national parks and a lot of the touristy islands such as Phi Phi island are no fly zones, which makes sense to me given the sheer number of people around.
Fines for not registering
The fines for not registering apply to both of the two registration requirements that we have been over in this post.
Not registering with CAAT: Fines of 40,000 THB or possible 1 year jail sentences.
Not registering with NBTC: Fines of 100,000 THB or possible 5 year jail sentences.
Essentially, don’t bother without the right documents.
Carry ALL of your paperwork every time that you fly the drone!!
This includes your insurance policy, as well as the two confirmed registrations from the issuing government bodies.