Drones play an increasingly important role in the international logistics sector. Since April 2019, Google has been delivering parcels by drones in Australia and Amazon recently announced the rollout of its “Prime Air” hexacopter service. Further companies from the logistics sector and also other industries are likely to follow. As this type of delivery faces special regulatory issues, Digitorney Plus asks specialized lawyers from various countries in terms of practical and legal implications of drone logistics. Regarding Thailand, Jose Herrera comments on the situation and requirements.

Mr Herrera, can you please explain recent developments in Thailand regarding drone regulation?

Jose Herrera: The announcement of the Ministry of Transport on rules to apply for permission and conditions to control and launch unmanned aircraft in the category of remotely piloted aircraft B.E. 2558 (A.D. 2015) stipulates that by virtue of Section 24 of the Air Navigation Act, the Ministry of Transport shall have power to permit and specify conditions to control and launch unmanned aircraft in the category of remotely piloted aircraft. In other words, according to Thailand’s National Aviation Authority, the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT), flying a drone is perfectly legal in Thailand, but we recommend to understand the existing regulation and compliance.

What needs to be done?

Jose Herrera: Thai people and foreigners can operate their drones in Thailand. However, the users are not allowed to fly the drones here until they have registered their devices with the NBTC and the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT).

What are the general rules for operating a drone in Thailand?

Jose Herrera: All drones must be registered if they have a camera and a weight of 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) or more. Drones weighing more than 25 kilograms (55 pounds) must be registered with the Minister of Transport.

What should drone pilots know in Thailand?

Jose Herrera: Drone pilots must maintain a visual line of sight with their drone at all times and must not fly close to manned aircraft or close to any person, vehicle, construction, or buildings at distance less than 30 meters (98 feet) horizontally.

Are there any restrictions regarding the area and height?

Jose Herrera: Yes, drones must not be flown in restricted areas without authorization and not within 9 kilometres (5 miles) from an airport or temporary airfield except with special authorization. In addition, drones must not be flown higher than 90 meters (295 feet).

What can happen in case of violations?

Jose Herrera: In fact, Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) announced a penalty in case a drone has not been registered. For a drone’s owner this could lead to a one-year jail term or a fine of up to 40,000 Baht. The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) announced that all drones in Thailand need to be registered.

What kind of registration is needed and how time-consuming is this process?

Jose Herrera: Tegistration of drones in Thailand needs to be done via the authorities CAAT and NBTC. The paperwork and also the process of registration can be complex and tedious in Thailand if you are not aware of the regulation. Companies should ideally involve legal experts in order to avoid delay or formal mistakes.