Update: Beginning in April 2021, registering a drone in Thailand can be done with NBTC online here: https://bit.ly/3azEvRV
Update, July 1, 2022: NBTC confirmed that a valid visa and/or visa-exemption entry stamp is required to complete the registration of a drone for tourists.
Of all of the (necessary) bureaucratic tasks I have accomplished in Thailand, registering a drone is one of the easiest.
In short, every person piloting a drone needs three key documents to fly legally in Thailand. Those are:
- A valid visa or visa-exemption entry stamp, given on arrival
- NBTC (National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission) Registration
- CAAT (Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand) Registration
- Minimum liability insurance of 1,000,000 THB.
Before I get into precisely what is required to license the drone, it is essential to highlight the rules for flying a drone in Thailand.
At the time of writing, the current law states that:
- All drones must be registered if:
- It has a camera
- It weighs over 2 kilograms
- Drones weighing more than 25 kilograms must be registered with the Ministry of Transport.
- Drone pilots must maintain a visual line of sight with the drone at all times.
- Drones must not be flown close to manned aircraft.
- Drones must not be flown close to any person, vehicle, construction, or buildings at a distance less than 30 meters (98 feet) horizontally.
- Drones must not be flown in restricted areas without authorization.
- Drones must not be flown within 9 kilometers (5 miles) from an airport or temporary airfield except with special approval.
- Drones must not be flown higher than 90 meters (295 feet).
Per the requirements above, there is likely a 100% chance that you need to register your personal drone to legally fly it in Thailand.
Buying a Drone
There are several usual ways to buy a drone in Thailand. You can buy them secondhand in Facebook groups, as well as on Lazada or Shopee. Personally, I always purchase them at places where I can get a good warranty.
Some of the shops that offer warranties with purchase (as well as 0% interest payment plans, if you have a credit card issued in Thailand) are:
- Power buy
- Central Department Store
- Banana IT
If you want to buy it from a local vendor, there are a few authorized dealers in Bangkok that sell drones and the necessary liability insurance policies in the same place. One such example is Phantom Thailand, a small vendor selling online and a shop on the 5th floor of Central World in Bangkok.
Registering a Drone in Thailand (with NBTC)
The first (and fastest) step in getting your drone fully legal is registering it with the Office of The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC). In Thai, this is called สำนักงานคณะกรรมการกิจการกระจายเสียง กิจการโทรทัศน์ และกิจการโทรคมนาคมแห่งชาติ (กสทช.)
According to the main NBTC website, there are 4 Regional NBTC offices located around the Kingdom, some of which have sub-district (satellite) locations. The main offices are:
- NBTC Regional Office 1- Bangkok
- Responsible for: Bangkok Metropolis, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Ratchaburi, Samut Prakarn, Samut Sakhon, Samut Songkhram, and Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya.
- NBTC Regional Office 2- Ubon Ratchathani
- Responsible for: Ubon Ratchathani, Si Sa Ket, Surin, Amnat Jeroen, Yasothon and Mukdahan
- NBTC Regional Office 3- Lampang
- Responsible for: Lampang, Phrae, Nan, Uttaradit, Sukhothai, and Tak.
- NBTC Regional Office 4- Hat Yai
Before going to register at the NBTC office closest to where you live, you should fill out the following paperwork:
- คท30 (NBTC UAV Radio Equipment Registration) form – Download it here.
- คท32 (Owner’s Declaration of Conformity (ODoC) form- Download it here.
In addition to these forms, you need to supplement your application with:
- Photographs of your drone’s serial number, as well as the serial number of your remote control. For these photos, you don’t need to show the whole device. Just take an up-close shot of the serial number. Depending on your drone, the location of the serial number will vary. As an example, here are the photos I supplied to register my newest drone:
- A copy of your invoice/receipt for the drone. I always buy my drones from Powerbuy, and they are aware of this requirement so they will supply you with the original as well as a copy.
- For non-Thais, you’ll need to verify your identity and length of current stay with copies of:
- Biometric (front) page of your passport
- Current visa
- Latest entry stamp
- Departure card (TM6)
- A copy of your lease or contract for wherever you are living. For me, the yellow house book (tabien baan) was sufficient. In the past, I used the lease for my condo without issue.
Once you have completed all of the necessary paperwork (and signed the bottom of every page), take your completed application to the nearest NBTC office. For me, this is in Bangkok, located in the Ari district.
This specific office is hard to miss, as it has a lot of satellite dishes surrounding it, and the building at the center is bright red. For registering a drone, find Building #2, as pictured below:
Once inside, proceed to the counters on the left, where there are many signs (in Thai language) about drone registration fees, rules and regulations. If you have a complete application, you can just walk up to the counter and submit it.
The officer accepting applications will flip through the documents to ensure that you have everything (as above-listed). If it is complete, you’ll go upstairs to the 2nd floor to pay the licensing fee (214 THB) at this counter:
Once you’ve paid, you can have a seat downstairs for about 30 minutes to an hour. They’ll process your application and supply you with the license shortly (if you have given them all of the necessary paperwork).
For non-Thai nationals, the license issued to you will be valid until the expiration date of your current visa extension.
Purchasing Liability Insurance
To legally fly a drone in Thailand, you must carry a minimum of 1,000,000 THB liability insurance on the drone, and the person flying the drone must be listed in the policy.
Buying the insurance is as simple as doing a Google search for ‘drone insurance Thailand.’ Personally, I always insure my equipment (drones and otherwise) through MSIG and/or Bangkok Insurance Public Company Limited.
My premium is 4,500 THB per year, per drone, and with that, I am covered with the minimum 1,000,000 THB liability insurance and coverage for the cost of replacing a lost or damaged drone up to 30,000 THB, with a deductible of 3,000 THB per incident.
I have found that knowing someone personally has simplified this quite a lot. If you would like to be connected with my insurance agent directly, send me an email here.
Registering with CAAT (Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand)
Registering with the CAAT is the last step in getting your drone to be fully legal in Thailand. This is a reasonably straightforward online application, which can be found here: https://uav.caat.or.th/.
Registering with the CAAT is the only part of the entire process that takes quite a bit of time. I have completed this three times now. The first two times, it took CAAT approximately 4-5 weeks to issue the certificate.
You must purchase your insurance policy before applying for this, as the insurance policy is a required document when you are submitting the application online.
As mentioned in the disclaimer at the beginning of this post, the process to apply for the NBTC license has gone online (as of April 2021).
If you do not have access to the technology to print, scan, and apply online, the NBTC in Bangkok has set up a station at their office to complete the online application in their office. This is what I did for my most recent application:
I love flying my drone in Thailand. It has given me a new perspective on so many things that I enjoy living and traveling in the Kingdom.
Here is a video I took recently at Bhumibol 2 Bridge in Bangkok.
If you’d like to see more of my drone footage, you can follow me on Twitter @WritingByMatt,
You can also subscribe to my YouTube channel for more, here: http://youtube.com/neato.
If you have any questions, feel free to shoot me an email via my contact page, here.