Iceland Mag

4 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag

Ask the Expert

Does Iceland have any restrictions or laws regarding the use of drones to do aerial photography?

By Staff

  • Drone usage After having been unregulated in Iceland drone usage has been banned or restricted in some areas.

Does Iceland have any restrictions or laws regarding the use of multi-rotor aircraft (i.e. “drones”) to do aerial photography?

Answer: There are no specific rules for small drones, less than 5 kg (10 lbs) in Iceland. However the Icelandic Transport Authority (ITA) is in the process of developing such rules for all unmanned aircrafts. This Aeronautical Information Circular provides information (link to PDF page 2 in English) on the rules that are currently in force regarding the operation of unmanned aircraft in Iceland. They can for example not be operated within 1.5 km (1 mi) of airports and within a distance of less than 1.5 km from housing areas except with a permit from the aeronautical authority. 

drones_dettifoss.pngNot here Drones have been outlawed in the region of Dettifoss waterfall. Photo/Vísir/Hörður Jónasson

That said those rules have until recently not been heavily enforced in Iceland, so avid photographers looking to do aerial photography here did not run into any problems when it came to using drones. But concerns regarding the use of drones, especially around issues of privacy, safety of people and them disturbing wildlife and the peace at popular destinations, has led to regulations in some areas.

The Vatnajökull National Park has limited the general usage of drones in the northern regions of the central highlands park without a special permit. However, park managers and rangers can allow the use of drones when guaranteed that they will not contravene with any of the reasons stated above. Special permits are issued if the use is a part of scientific research or film projects. Permit application forms are here

The rules governing use of drones are still evolving in Iceland. Our advice is to show some common sense. Respect other people who might be travelling in the same area. Both their personal sefety by making sure you’re not flying it within 50 metres of them, and also by not ruining their experience. A buzzing drone in the sky in a remote and quiet area can be quite the mood killer.

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