Latest Drone Laws in Panama

Panama, a narrow land bridge between the North Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, offers stunning photography opportunities. Since drone flying is legal in Panama, it’s absolutely crucial to be well-informed about the latest drone laws. 

Like other Caribbean countries, such as Jamaica or the Dominican Republic, the country’s drone regulations require hobbyists, commercial fliers, visitors, and governments to register drones and obtain operational licenses.

Insurance coverage is a safeguard for commercial operators. While not required for hobbyists and visitors, it’s wise to consider it for your peace of mind.

The Civil Aeronautical Authority or Autoridad Aeronáutica Civil (Spanish) plays a pivotal role as Panama’s drone regulator, ensuring safe and legal operations. Its commitment to safety and efficiency reassures all drone operators that all is well.

This article adequately informs you about the legal requirements for drone operations in Panama.

Read on.

What Are the Latest Drone Laws in Panama?

The most recent drone laws in Panama classify drones according to their weight as follows:

  • RPA Micro: Up to 250g
  • RPA Little (Pequeña/Small): 250g-25kg
  • RPA Light (Livian/Medium): 25kg-150kg
  • RPA Heavy (Pesada/Heavy): Over 150kg 

Below are the drone regulations you must adhere to in Panama:

  • Maintain the maximum flight altitude according to your drone’s weight class:
  • Up to 250g (0.55 pounds): 30 meters (98 feet)

  • 250g-25kg (0.55-55 pounds): 60 meters (197 feet)

  • 25kg-150kg (55-330 pounds): 120 meters (393 feet) 

  • Over 150kg: Over 120 meters (393 feet) 

  • Insurance coverage is a legal requirement for commercial flights.
    It’s a crucial safety measure that protects both you and others.

    While it’s not mandatory for recreational flying, the authorities strongly advise it.

  • Maintain a 30-meter (98 feet) horizontal distance and 10 meters (33 feet) vertically from people during flights.

  • Always fly your drone during daylight hours and in Visual Meteorological Conditions.

  • Don’t fly your drone within 150 meters (492 feet) of city buildings and structures.

  • Keep off sensitive areas such as military installations and government facilities.

  • Operate your drone at least 8 kilometers (5 miles) from airports and airfields.

  • Don’t fly your drone over airports or where aircraft operations are ongoing.

  • Register your drone with AAC and apply for a Certificate of Operation.

  • Don’t exceed the maximum flight speed of 130 km/hr (80 m/hr).

  • Respect other people’s privacy during your drone operations.

  • Avoid flying your drone over people and large crowds.

  • Seek AAC approval before your commercial flights.

  • Keep your drone at most 500 meters from you.

How Do I Get a License or Authorization to Operate My Drone in Panama?

Below are the procedures and guidelines for getting an operator license/authorization:

Drone Registration

  • Obtain training if the authority requires additional abilities for safe drone operations.

  • Go to the AAC website and complete the Equipment Registration Form under the DRONES section.

    Non-Spanish speakers may find it challenging to complete the form, but support is available to guide them through the process.

  • Thoroughly understand Resolution 120: Aeronautical Standard AAC / DSA / DG / 01/16 Requirements for operating RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems).

    That makes you feel informed and confident in your compliance with regulations, especially if you don’t speak Spanish and may require guidance.

  • To finalize your drone registration, visit AAC’s Building 805 and contact the Air Safety Directorate (524-3848 extension 56).

  • Upon the Director approving your application, you get a serial number sticker corresponding to your drone.

Which Documents Do I Need for My Drone Registration?

Here are the accompanying documents you need for the drone registration application:

  • A copy of your ID and full personal details
  • Drone’s technical information and full specifications
  • A copy of your drone purchase receipt/invoice
  • Your pilot license copy/drone insurance copy
  • Your drone’s photo

Note: You must bring your completed application form to your appointment with the drone.

Obtaining a Pilot License

A drone operation license is essential, especially for commercial flights. Here’s how you can apply:

  • Email the Director of Air Safety at licenses@aeronautica.gob.pa, visit AAC Building 805, or call 501-9548 to make an appointment to request a license.

  • Follow the steps given by the Director to apply for the license.

  • Get your pilot license in three days if the authority approves it.

After receiving the authorization (serial number sticker) and a pilot license, you can legally fly in Panama for recreational and commercial purposes.

Note: 

  • You must notify the MOP (+507 507 9400) and the SPI (527-9600) for Cinta Costera and Casco Viejo operations. Alternatively, send a direct email to aicarauz@mop.gob.pa.

  • Email DJI at flysafe@dji.com within 5 business days if you fly over DJI equipment-restricted areas.

  • For Coastal Beltway operations, you must notify the SPI via a letter to the relevant AAC commissioner.

  • Regarding Casco Antiguo, make a note to the concerned AAC commissioner.

Notes to Foreign Operators

The drone operator is the sole holder of the legal right to request a drone flight permit in person.

You must consider movement, time, and days before your operations.
That applies to recreational and commercial drone activities.

Conclusion

Panama offers numerous opportunities for a fantastic drone flying experience. Hence, the country’s Aviation Authority agency is vigilant in ensuring a conducive environment for all drone operators.

The drone regulator expects you to register your drone, obtain a pilot’s license, and comply with the provided regulations for safe and legal drone flights.

Thankfully, our article provides the latest drone laws in Panama (common and class-based) to ensure you enjoy trouble-free flights in the country.

For more information on exceptional cases, don’t hesitate to contact Autoridad Aeronáutica Civil via the following details:

  • Address: Administrative Offices, Albrook Building 805 – Panama 
  • Telephone: 524-4000
  • Email 

FAQs

Yes, you can bring your drone to Panama. Before flying, register your drone with the Aeronautical Civil in Albrook Airport and obtain a pilot license.

Also, please familiarize yourself with the current laws regarding drones in the country and comply with them to ensure safe and lawful flights. 

Yes, tourists can fly drones in Panama. All drone flights are legal after registering with AAC, regardless of weight class.

However, you must obtain a remote pilot license and a special license for a foreign drone operator.

Panama is a drone-friendly country with various drone filming and photography sites. They include the following:

  • Action activities: fireworks, mountain hiking, and fast-moving speedboats
  • The inactive El Valle volcano and stunning nearby waterfalls
  • The electrifying urban center along the water’s edge
  • San Blas Islands on the Caribbean Sea coastline
  • Panama City skyscrapers
  • Interior rainforest scene
  • Large sportfishing boats
  • Bocas del Toro beaches
  • Panama great coastline
  • Panama Canal scenery
  • Panama City skyline
  • Clayton Park and more
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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