I have traveled and flown with drone around China without any problem for one month. However, China is a specific country where the rules are strictly observed. I learned a lot where it is possible to fly without problems and when to leave the drone in my backpack. Can I take a drone to China? Which conditions do I have to meet to fly? I will answers these questions in this article and summarize how to prepare before your departure, on which spot to pay attention and my own flying experience.
Chinese regulations and rules for flying a drone (2019)
In the introduction, I would like to mention that the information is taken from uavcoach.com/drone-laws-in-china. I recommend checking this page in case of any changes.
1. Every drone weighing 250g or more must be registered with CAAC! Taking into account that the lightest DJI drone weighs 300g, this means that each drone, even for private use, must be registered. More information on how to register the drone and detailed instructions can be found in the next chapter.
2. For commercial use, a license is required.
3. During flying it is necessary to have a constant visual contact with the drone
4. Maximum take-off height is 120m
5. Prohibition of flying in areas where is too many people.
6. Prohibition of flying around airports, military bases, police stations, etc.
7. No NFZ (No-Fly-Zones), such as Beijing. I recommend studying the map here.
If you speak Chinese language, you can find more informations here
Drone registration on CAAC website – detailed instructions
If you want to legally fly a drone in China, you must register it. Before you sign up for registration, it’s worth mentioning that you must have a Chinese mobile number. For this reason, I recommend to go to China first, buy a local SIM card (more in the article here) and then register the drone.
How to register drone:
1. Create an account on the CAAC website: go to uas.caac.gov.cn and register as a new user. This step requires a Chinese mobile number where a confirmation code will be sent to you.
2. Fill in residence and passport number: unfortunately I cannot provide printscreen because I am not allowed to go on this step again. But now you need to fill residence, passport number, name and surname. I would recommend for this step using application Google Translate and mobile pointed (screen facing) on the screen translating what the characters mean.
3. Register a drone: Once you have created an account, you can add a drone into it, as shown below.
Just enter serial number and manufacturer. Now is the worse part because names of manufacturers are listed in Chinese characters and you have to find out who is who. If you register DJI drone, enter the following characters in the box: 深圳市大疆创新科技有限公司
4. Final step is to print a QR code ans stick it on a visible place on the drone. QR code should be sent to your e-mail and if not (like me) you can download it directly from the registration page.
Advices and tips from my own experience
If you are going to China for a long time and you hesitate to bring a drone with you, then the answer for me is clear! Take it with you!
Where not to fly the drone:
- Although officially you can, it is not advisable to fly when you see a policeman. There is 90% risk that he will disable it. It is best to ask him before taking off.
- Places where is a lot of people. This point often overlaps with the above. If you fly in area where is a lot of people, you are breaking the law and you can expect a police officer to be nearby (even if you don’t see him right now :)).
Where they take off
- In nature! In national parks like Zhangjiajie (Avatar mountain) you can admire the beautiful nature from above. But beware of helicopters, which often fly here. Video and photos taken by drone from the Avatar Mountains can be seen here, or from the Great Wall of China here.
- In cities where there is a low frequency of people. Yes, this place is hard to find in China, but the South Bund in Shanghai is an example. There is no big concentration of people, you fly “safely” over the river and you can enjoy the beautiful view of high-rise buildings.
Last but not least, I added a video for inspiration to take the drone with you.