Latest Drone Laws in Kenya

Drone flying in Kenya is legal for hobbyists, commercial pilots, visitors (tourists), and government operators. However, you must be familiar with and adhere to the latest drone laws in Kenya to enjoy your flights.

Kenya’s drone laws require operators to register their devices and obtain a pilot’s license. Additionally, visitors must obtain a permit to fly a drone legally in the country. 

Visitors can get a 30-day temporary permit to conduct drone activities.

Although insurance coverage isn’t a requirement, the authority strongly recommends it for hobbyists and visitors, highlighting the importance of safety in drone operations.

Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) is the nation’s drone regulatory body.

This article comprehensively covers the legal situation of drone flights within the Kenyan borders. 

Let’s dive in.

What Are the Latest Drone Laws in Kenya?

According to Kenya’s national aviation authority, KCAA, below are the current laws governing drone operations: 

  • Category A drone laws
  • Category B drone laws
  • Category C drone laws

Read on.

Category A Drone Laws

Drones in this category have low-risk operations, posing minimal danger to the public, crewed aviation, and property. They weigh 25 kg and below. 

Here are their governing laws:

  • Don’t fly your drone within 50 meters and 7 kilometers away from people and airports, respectively.

  • Only fly your drone up to the maximum altitude of 400 feet (120 meters).

  • Maintain the visual line of sight (VLOS) throughout your flights.

  • Only conduct your flights after notifying the authority.

Category B Drone Laws

The category’s drone operations pose moderately-regulated risks to the public, human-crewed aircraft, and property. The risks are higher than in category A operations.

Here are the regulations you must comply with:

  • Observe the appropriate restrictions/limitations. Their application depends on your qualifications, experience, and the drone’s operation type and complexity.

  • Your drone operation approval depends on a safety risk assessment analysis and the mitigations in place to minimize the risk to a permissible level.

  • Always conduct your flights within the defined limitations, such as maintaining the VLOS.

  • You must obtain authorization from the aviation authority before conducting a flight.

  • Operations involve sharing the airspaces with other crewless and crewed aircraft. Be accommodative.

Category C Drone Laws

Operations in this category are also known as high-risk or manned aviation approaches. They expose people, manned aviation, and property to high safety risks.

Here are the governing regulations:

  • You shall conduct drone operations in unprohibited, unrestricted, and safe airspaces. The operations must be subject to Air Traffic Controller (ATC) guidance and instructions.

  • According to the Civil Aviation Regulations, you must maintain the correct height and lateral distances from people, objects, and buildings.

  • A Certificate of Airworthiness is a requirement. KCAA issues it depending on the State of Manufacturing/Design certificate.

You may conduct drone operations beyond the visual line of sight (BVLOS) if:

  • Your remote-piloted aircraft (RPA) has the appropriate equipment and capabilities.

  • You’re suitably qualified and have the appropriate operational rating.

  • All your operations in this category must be KCAA-authorized.

  • You must have a valid license when flying your drone.

    Note: You need a Remote Pilot License (RPL) for category B and C flights.

General Laws for Drone Operations in Kenya

In addition to registering your drone and getting the necessary permit certificate, you must observe the following rules:

  • You must be a Kenyan citizen or resident aged 18 years or above to own and operate a drone.

  • Always fly your drone during daylight hours and in Visual Meteorological Conditions. Otherwise, you must get authorization from KCAA.

  • Without KCAA authorization, avoid drone operations within 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) of the airports’ reference point for codes F, E, D, and C.

  • Without authorization, don’t conduct drone activities within 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) of the airports’ reference point for codes B and A.

  • Avoid flying within 50 meters (164 feet) away from people, objects, or vehicles not involved in your operations.

  • Don’t operate your Unmanned Aircraft System along or over a public road within 50 meters (164 feet) away.

  • Depending on the potential risks, all your operations must be in one of the three operational categories.

  • Register your drone with KCAA and receive a registration certificate before your operations.

  • Obtain a ROC from the authority for your commercial drone operations.

  • Never conduct your drone take off or landing on a public roadway.

  • Don’t transfer your drone’s ownership without the KCAA’s approval.

  • Stay within the 400 feet maximum altitude requirement.

  • You can’t import or export a drone without KCAA’s approval.

How Do I Become a Legal Drone Pilot in Kenya?

You become a legal drone pilot in Kenya by fulfilling the following requirements:

  • Register your drone.
  • Obtain a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC).
  • Get training and receive a Remote pilot’s license.
  • Follow the KCAA-set safety rules and measures.

How Do I Register My Drone in Kenya?

You register your drone in Kenya by filling out an application form provided by the KCAA, submitting support documents, and paying the required registration fee.  

Below are the documents you must submit:

  • A clear drone photo
  • Identification documents
  • Police clearance certificate
  • Drone type certificate (if applicable)
  • The drone circuit diagram (if applicable)
  • Company registration documents (applicable to commercial flights)

The KCAA works with the relevant government stakeholders to undertake due diligence when reviewing your registration request.

Upon approval, the regulatory agency issues a certificate of registration.

Note: You must attach your drone registration data visibly for easy identification.

How Do I Obtain a Permit to Fly a Drone in Kenya?

You obtain a drone flying permit in Kenya by filling out an online application form and submitting the following support documents:

  • Safety documentation outlining emergency procedures for handling command and control data link failure, accumulator issues, and control and engine problems

  • A liability insurance document photocopy relevant to your drone operation type certificate, if applicable

  • A clear and colored photo of your drone on the ground (front and sides)

  • A visible picture of your drone’s serial number

  • Identification document (Identity Card or passport)

  • Your pilot license/certificate copy

The authority undertakes the vetting and evaluation of your application and approves it upon successful review.

Note: 

  • The application process applies to Kenyan citizens, residents, government personnel, and businesses. Visitors can only obtain a 30-day temporary permit.

  • Keep off no-fly zones such as military installations, national parks, government facilities, and power plants.

How Do I Get a Temporary Import Permit for Personal Drone Operations in Kenya?

You get a temporary import permit for private drone use by applying to the KCAA for approval in the prescribed format. Also, submit the following accompanying documents:

  • Your drone details 
  • Drone operational area
  • Identification documents
  • Valid visa for your stay duration (for visitors)

Note: 

  • The temporarily imported drone remains in the country for the duration specified in the temporary import permit.

  • You must notify KCAA before exporting the drone out of Kenya.

  • You shouldn’t use the imported drone for gain or reward activity (including publication for personal gain).

Additional Notes for Commercial Drone Operators in Kenya

The Remote Operator Certificate (ROC) is crucial if you intend to use your drone for commercial purposes.

It signifies your commitment to safely and responsibly operating drones, and you must apply to the authority for this certificate. 

Whether you apply as an individual or a company, you must undertake the following:

  • A training program and arrangements for ground handling and maintenance. The arrangements should align with your drone’s operations nature and extent and be proportional to its structure, size, and complexity.

  • Flight operation controlling and supervising method.

  • Satisfactory organization.

Operating a drone in  Kenya without KCAA authorization is not permitted. However, once you apply, the authority may issue you a temporary license of up to 30 days, which you can renew once. 

The process ensures fairness and allows for flexibility in your operations.

KCAA may impose terms and conditions it considers fit for public interest and Kenyan operators’ safety needs.

These measures ensure the safety of all operators and the public, providing you with a secure and regulated environment in which to operate your drone.

How Do I Get a Temporary Import Permit for Commercial Drone Operations in Kenya?

Apply for approval by the authority to get a temporary import permit for commercial drone purposes in Kenya.

KCAA authorizes your temporary import according to the drone law’s prescribed format. 

Below are the accompanying documents you need to submit:

  • Your drone details 
  • Drone operational areas
  • Identification documents
  • Valid visa for your stay duration (for visitors)

The imported drone shall be legally in Kenya only for the duration specified in the temporary import duration. You must inform the authority when exporting it.

KCAA may decline a short-term license application depending on the regularity of operations under this law.

When Can My Drone Be De-Registered in Kenya?

The regulatory agency may de-register or cancel your drone registration upon:

  • Request for de-registration so that you can register it in another country.
  • Drone’s permanent withdrawal from use.
  • Its destruction is beyond repair.
  • National security concerns.

You should submit your drone de-registration application in the prescribed format and state your reasons for de-registering it. 

Upon paying the prescribed fee, KCAA shall de-register your gadget.

What Are the Consequences of Flying a Drone Illegally in Kenya?

The consequences of illegal drone flying in Kenya include fines, imprisonment, or both.

The amount of the fine and imprisonment term depends on the severity of the infringement. 

Some common infringements include exporting a Kenyan-registered drone without approval, operating a drone without a permit, or acquiring a drone with military specifications.

For instance, using a drone without authorization may attract a fine of at least $15,000 (approximately 1,995,000.00 Kenyan Shilling) and imprisonment of six months or more.

Conclusion

Kenya is among the nations that have ideal sites for aerial shooting. Fortunately, drone flying is legal for operators across the divide. 

However, to conduct safe and legally-binding flights, it’s crucial to stay updated and adhere to the latest drone laws in Kenya.

Register your drone and obtain the relevant operational permits, and you’ll be ready.

Our write-up details these flying guidelines, so you don’t have to look further.

Also, if you need help on exceptional cases or clarification, please get in touch with the KCAA via the following: 

  • Physical address: Aviation House, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport,
  • Postal address:  30163 -00100 Nairobi, Kenya
  • Phone: +254 020 6827470-5 or +254 728 606 570. 
  • Email: info@kcaa.or.ke.

FAQs

No, other East African countries do not recognize Kenyan drone registration.

It’s only valid within Kenya. Suppose you plan to operate your drone in another country.

In that case, you must de-register your device in Kenya and obtain the necessary authorization from that country.

Yes, all remote pilots must undergo training to fly a drone in Kenya. The process helps you understand the limitations and responsibilities of your operational category.

Categories B and C require a Remote Pilot license, while Category A requires a Remote Piloted Aircraft Certificate.

Yes, you need insurance coverage to operate a drone in Kenya. It’s recommended that you have a minimum insurance policy regarding third-party risks.

However, KCAA may disregard the requirement depending on your operational category.

Apply for KCAA authorization to manufacture, assemble, test, or modify drones in Kenya.

You may also seek the authority’s approval to deal with the Unmanned Aircraft System or its components.

Kenya’s best aerial photography sites include the following:

  • Mount Kenya (the mountainous terrain of Africa’s second tallest mountain).
  • Mombasa sandy beaches (a coastal town along the Indian Ocean).
  • The amazing Nairobi city (one of the iconic cities in Africa).
  • Great Lift Valley (except prohibited areas).
Author
Peter Karanja

Peter is a licensed drone pilot and drone fanatic. He owns a DJI Air 2S that he uses to shoot videos for fun, enjoyment and for clients.

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