Can I use a drone in Italy?
The drone won over users all over the world and, no wonder: it offers the chance to make AWESOME takes, full of beauty. Both for photos and videos, the drone offers us a thousand opportunities, but if you are thinking of taking your ‘sweetheart’ to Italy, there is some information you NEED to know! Today we are going to talk about a subject that causes many questions to users of drones who intend to travel to the boot-shapéd country: can I use my drone in Italy? Here at Your Travel to Italy with Ana Patricia you make the trip of your dreams!!! ALSO: see our “Accommodation in Italy – Tips for your holidays!”
What is a drone?
First, let’s learn what a drone is. The term drone, in fact, refers to a word that came into common use and popular language, but in fact, when we talk about regulation, the word does not always fit the explanation. ENAC (Ente Nazionale per l’Aviazione Civile – Italian Civil Aviation Authority), regulates that there are some definitions of aircraft and, the drone, fits in some of them – since there is no specific definition for the equipment; definitions include:
Aerial device piloted remotely, with no person on board, and used exclusively for recreational and / or sporting purposes, not equipped with controls that allow autonomous flight, always flying under the direct and constant visual control of its operator, without the aid of visual aids and / or radars.
Remotely Piloted Aircraft (abbreviated to RPA)
Aircraft piloted remotely, with no person on board, not used for recreational and / or sporting purposes.
Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (abbreviated to RPAS)
System that consists of an aircraft piloted remotely, with no one on board, used for purposes other than recreational and / or sports, and with components necessary for remote control and command.
Ok, but…What is the difference?
The difference between the types mentioned above is that the first is used ONLY for recreational and sporting purposes and does not have commands that allow it to fly autonomously. The RPA and RPAS, which are used for NON recreational and sporting purposes – also called ‘equipment for specialized operations’ – are equated with aircraft and, therefore, are subject to the air navigation code. In summary: there are laws that regulate its use in Italian airspace.
Regarding the models, it is good to make clear:
Even equipment that does not have to “respect” the navigation code, is subject to sanctions if any ENAC law is violated (we will see below). It is good to know that the provisions of the Penal Code and the Civil Code are also clear with regard to fines, seizure of equipment and arrest of its pilot. Laws are applied to ensure the safety of people and property in the event of damage caused either by intent, negligence or unintentionally, which is why it is so important to know what type of equipment is and how to use it safely and within Italian regulations. Read also about the most beautiful panoramic views of the main Italian cities here! and Taking photos in the main Italian cities!
Specialized operations according to ENAC regulations
When you fly a drone, it is important to know that ENAC differentiates flights in two ‘categories’, so to speak: specialized and non-specialized operations, together with subdivisions, critical and non-critical operations. Why? Because depending on the operations carried out with the drone, there are licenses required by the municipality of the city where you are. Specialized operations according to ENAC regulations are divided into:
Non-critical specialized operations
It considers all flights performed with visual contact of the equipment, without the flight being performed in congested places, with crowds of people, urban agglomerations and / or sensitive infrastructures (such as monuments, for example).
Critical specialized operations
All activities that do not fit the aforementioned requirements, established by the regulation for non-critical specialized operations.
Good to know…
- Remember that if the drone weighs 2 kilos or less and can be considered – according to the parameters of the ENAC guidelines – harmless, specialized operations are always considered non-critical.
About permits required: when do I need them?
You will need authorization when performing specialized operations, that is, professionals. However, remember that, often, just a simple statement from the municipality stating that you are authorized to operate a drone as a professional, O.K.? Before using your equipment for professional purposes, I suggest that you contact the commune and ask for information on how, where and when you can receive the special authorization. Shall we learn more?
Authorization, declaration or registration: what do I need to operate a drone as a foreigner in Italy?
Well, it will depend on the type of operation you are going to perform with your drone – especially if you will use it professionally. It is important to keep in mind that, although authorizations are very similar, there are different names for different purposes.
- When in doubt, contact the commune, or visit the ENAC website to request information or to request the necessary authorization to operate your drone.
If you use your drone for a non-critical specialized operation, the ENAC regulation establishes the obligation to issue a simple declaration through the website of the national civil aviation body (the request can be sent by e-mail, for more information click here!). In the request, the drone pilot declares that the operations he or she will carry out fit in the rules and parameters established in the legislation for non-critical operations. In the case of critical operations, it is mandatory to ask ENAC for a specific authorization, as the agency must assess the level of security with which the operations will be carried out and authorize, or not. The request can also be made via email at the link mentioned above.
- To access the official and cited information in this post, you can click here (available in Italian and in English).
Good to know…
- Any drone that is not used for recreational and / or sporting purposes MUST be registered in Italy and approved in the country of origin. The registration of the drone in Italy assigns it an identification code, through which it is possible to track the data of the aircraft and its owner in case of need or verification by the authorities.
Frequently asked questions
Now I answer the most common questions regarding the subject:
Can I use the drone without a license or authorization?
You can! Here in Italy, you can use – without authorization – any drone that weighs less than 25 kg (55 pounds) and with power less than 15 KW. Remembering that it can be used only if the images are for personal use, not professional.
How can I use the drone?
You must fly your drone following some rules: it must remain less than 200 meters (650 feet) away from you and up to a maximum of 70 meters (230 feet) high. Always in your visual field. You can also use automatic navigation, RTH and similar commands, but always – and only – if the drone is in your field of view!
Where can I use my drone?
During the day in any place where there are no people around, but as long as you are away from houses, roads, railways, public places with high traffic, etc. (we’ll see it in the next topic). You must maintain a safe distance from people and buildings and it is STRICTLY FORBIDDEN to fly and take pictures of people WITHOUT AUTHORIZATION!
- In Venice it is FORBIDDEN to use drones near St Mark’s Square and St. Mark’s Basilica; this is because, in the not-too-distant past, many drones hit buildings and fell into the crowd, which is why the local police – today – are trained to block any unauthorized drone action. They can take down the equipment, seize it and arrest the pilot. So, don’t fly in Venice, O.K.?!
Where can I NOT fly?
IT IS FORBIDDEN to fly 5 km (3 miles) away from airports, fly zones in the CTR zone, schools, hospitals, prisons, military and industrial environments, monuments, churches, statues, and beaches during the high season (from June 15 to September 15th). Flying in parks and nature reserves is also prohibited.
- You can download the Airmap app (click here to learn more) to find out where you can and cannot use your drone. Using the cell phone’s GPS, it tells you whether you are in a prohibited area or not.
Can I take pictures and make movies with my drone?
Of course! After all, that’s the goal, isn’t it? However, it is important to remember that you can ONLY use the photos in a non-professional way! And always consider the privacy rights of other people and / or establishments. Italy adopts the law of the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which serves to guarantee people’s privacy. This means that, in public places, you can take pictures of people, but you should not take pictures of people in their homes, work spaces and / or private spaces. For that, you need to have their permission, O.K.?
When in doubt, contact your local authorities to find out what you can and cannot do and where you can and cannot operate your drone! Respect the law.
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Can I use a drone in Italy? Despite being very strict with respect to laws involving drones and similars, Italy is also flexible, as long you comply with the rules. Do not venture into using your drone, for example, on top of the Colosseum in Rome: the practice of using the drone without authorization means jail, folks! So, pay attention and follow local recommendations. And yes, each city can define its own rule – although the general rules are national – so, if you have any questions about the subject and want to make sure you can fly unconcernedly, contact the commune where you are going so they can guide you on how to use your drone safely and lawfully.
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