What rules govern the use of drones for aerial photography in Iceland?
One of the questions we get regularly is whether Iceland has any restrictions or laws regarding the use of aerial drones, popular among photographers for the use in aerial photography?
Answer: Until recently the use of drones was virtually unregulated in Iceland. Earlier this year, however, the Icelandic Transport Authority (ITA) issued new rules which restrict the use of drones in urban areas and in the vicinity of airports. The use of drones has also been further restricted in Vatnajökull National Park, as well as at numerous sites where landowners have banned the use of drones on their property.
The general rule is that the use of drones within 2 km (1.24 miles) of commercial airports and within 1.5 km (0.93 miles) of other airports is strictly banned.
This makes it illegal to operate drones in downtown Reykjavík, around the old harbour and in the nearby residential areas. The rules make an exception for drones which do not fly higher than nearby buildings.
According to the new rules it will also become illegal to fly drones at altitudes greater than 130 meters (427 feet).
The Icelandic Transport Authority can issue exemptions, which could permit the operation of drones above the altitude limits, and to the operation of drones in the vicinity of airports.
The rules were imposed after a series of near accidents where people had flown drones above the downtown lake Tjörnin, taking the drones straight into the flight paths of incoming aircraft.
The use of drones has also been restricted or banned at some sites around Iceland. 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: Special permits are issued if the use is a part of scientific research or film projects. Permit application forms are here
The Transport Authority has also ruled that private landowners are within their right to ban or restrict the use of drones on their property. A number of landowners have taken advantage of this to ban the use of drones.
These bans began popping up after cases where flying aerial drones scared horses and other livestock.
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!
Ever dreamed of a second home in a fishing village in the Westfjords? Now's your chance!
This day in history: The sinking of whaling vessels in Reykjavík harbour was "Iceland's 9/11"
Kitten TV "Kattarshians" coming to the US: Best thing to come out of Iceland since Björk
Ask the Expert
Elves and hidden people: Do Icelanders really believe in elves?
Food & Drink
Don't miss the annual Icelandic Meat Soup Day in downtown Reykjavík on Saturday
Food & Drink
The five best places for brunch in Reykjavík
Photos: Walking paths at Víti crater lake turned into mudfields: 'Worst I have seen'
Photos: This year's pysja rescue confirms 2017 was best year on record for pufflings
Photos: Icelanders celebrate the win over Kosovo which secured a spot at the World Cup
Brush up on your Icelandic by singing world's hardest karaoke song
Follow Iceland Mag
Join our weekly hand curated newsletter to have all the latest news from Iceland sent to you
Don't worry, we won't spam you. Promise!
Watch a video of a RV get blown off the road just north of Reykjavík
Want to know what you are eating at an Icelandic Þorrablót? Here's your answer!
Chris Burkard: "Iceland is one of the most beautiful locations in the world"
Vikings had a dark sense of humour, reveals Irish academic
Meet the friends of Iceland!
Aurora alert: A great Northern Lights forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday
Cuteness overload: A video of a litter of Arctic fox pups explore the world for the first time
Watch a selection of the most amazing Hollywood movie scenes shot in Iceland
Magical beauty of Icelandic landscapes captured in this award winning time-lapse video
Superb short film featuring breathtaking drone footage shot along the Ring Road One
Video: The stunning beauty of the Diamond Beach and other wonders of South Iceland