Latest Drone Laws in Portugal

As a member of the European Union (EU), the latest drone laws in Portugal are primarily the EU drone regulations. The laws have been in effect since January 1, 2021. 

Portugal also has some nation-specified laws.

The current drone regulations require you to register your drone, obtain a pilot license, and acquire a drone remote ID (except in some cases). Insurance coverage is mandatory for commercial fliers but not other operators (though recommended). 

Portugal’s drone laws regulate drone operation in three operational categories depending on the intended activity and the drone’s weight.

The Portuguese National Civil Aviation Authority, or Autoridade Nacional de Aviação Civil (ANAC), is the regulatory agency under the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

We’ll explore the legal requirements for drone flying to ensure safe and legal flights.

Let’s get started.

What Are the Latest Drone Laws in Portugal?

Portugal’s latest drone laws regulate drone flying and operations in three operational categories: Open, Specific, and Certified.

The categories vary depending on the risk level involved in drone operations. 

Whether you’re a resident or visitor, you must operate within your category’s limitations, rules, and procedures.

However, there are general drone laws applicable to all drone categories alike.

General Drone Laws in Portugal

The general drone regulations include the following:

  • Insurance coverage isn’t required, but ANAC recommends acquiring third-party liability insurance to cover your remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) operational damages.

  • You must obtain special permission from ANAC to fly drones exceeding 25 kg (55 pounds) beyond the visual line of sight or at night.

  • Keep off drone flights over populated areas (with more than 12 people) regardless of weight.

  • Never fly a toy drone (less than 0.25 kg) over people or beyond the 30-meter altitude cap. 

  • Only capture images or videos with the National Aeronautical Authority’s permission.

  • Maintain a visual line of sight (VLS) throughout your flights.

  • Always prioritize and give way to manned aircraft.

Latest Drone Laws in Portugal According to Category

There are three operational categories, as earlier mentioned:

  • Open category
  • Specific category
  • Certified category

Keep reading.

Open Category

Due to their low-risk nature, operations in this category are straightforward and hassle-free.

They require no prior authorization or drone operator declaration. Most recreational and low-risk commercial drone activities fall under the open category.

Below are the requirements for the Open category drone operations:

  • You won’t operate the drone over people unless it weighs less than 250g (0.55 lbs) or has a class identification label.

  • Your drone’s purchase date is before January 1, 2023, and has no class identification label.

  • You must maintain a visual line of sight or seek assistance from a UA observer.

  • The maximum take-off weight of your drone is below 25 kg (55 lbs).

  • You won’t carry dangerous items or drop materials during flights. 

  • A drone with class 0, 1, 2, 3, or 4 identification labels.

  • The drone won’t fly above 120m (400 feet) altitude.

  • You’ll maintain a safe distance from people.

The category has three subdivisions, including the following:

  • A1: Fly over a few people but not crowds
  • A2: Fly near people
  • A3: Fly far away from people

Note: Each sub-category has different rules and remote pilot training types.

Open Category A1 Rules

You can operate a drone in Subcategory A1 if:

  • Your drone with a C1 registration label has a maximum takeoff weight of 900g (1.98 lbs). 

  • Your drone with a C0 label has a maximum takeoff weight of 250g (0.55 lbs).

  • You maintain a flight speed of 19 m/s (42 m/h) or lower.

  • You’re EASA-registered if your drone is C1-marked.

  • It keeps off crowded places and no-fly zones.

  • Its class identification label is 0 or 1.

Open Category A2 Rules

You can operate a drone in Subcategory A2 if:

  • You’ll maintain a 30-metre (98-foot) distance from people not part of the operations.

  • Your C2-labeled drone has a maximum takeoff weight of 4kg (8.81 lbs).

  • You are 16 years or older and EASA-registered.

  • You’ll keep off crowded areas and no-fly zones.

  • Its class identification label is 2.

Open Category A3 Rules

You can operate a drone in Subcategory A3 if:

  • You can keep your flights away from people and maintain a minimum distance of 150m (492 feet) from urban areas.

  • Your C3 or C4-labeled drones have a maximum takeoff weight of 4kg (8.81 lbs).

  • You’re aged 16 or above and EASA-registered.

  • Its class identification label is 3 or 4.

Specific Category

Due to its higher operational risk level, this category accommodates drone operations that don’t meet the Open Category’s requirements.

It’s a flexible category that allows you to fly your drone commercially or for recreation.

Operate your drone in the Specific category if:

  • You operate under an EASA or ANAC-issued Standard Scenario and have submitted a declaration to the National Civil Aviation Authority.

    That ensures responsible and safe flights.

  • A standard scenario doesn’t apply to your operations but have an ANAC-approved predefined risk assessment before your flights.

  • You conduct your operations with a Light Operator Certificate (LUC) to ensure operations within the country’s regulatory framework.

Certified Category

The category includes high-risk drone operations. These involve large drone operations, which present inherent risks if something goes amiss.

You can operate your drone in the Certified Category if you meet the conditions below.

However, EASA is still developing the category regulations and awaiting publication.

Here are a few things about the category:

  • Your drone complies with the Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/945: paragraph 1 points (a) (b) (c).

  • You conduct operations under any of the conditions below:
  • Involve transporting dangerous goods with potentially high risk. 
  • Involve human transportation.
  • Fly over large crowds.
  • The classification of the Certified Category operations depends on the Article-11 provided risk assessment. 

Adequate mitigation of the operations requires the following: 

  • Drone certification
  • Remote pilot licencing (where applicable)
  • Drone operator certification

Which Operator Certificates Are Available According to Drone Laws in Portugal?

There are two drone operator certificates in Portugal, including the following:

  • Certificate A1-A3
  • Certificate A2

Read on.

Certificate A1-A3 (Basic Certificate)

  • Applicable to free flying of drones weighing up to 500g (where permitted).
  • You must maintain a 150m distance from buildings for drones weighing 2kg.
  • Compulsory for 250g-25kg weighing drones.

Certificate A2 (Supplementary Certificate)

  • You must maintain a distance of 50m from uninvolved persons.
  • Optional for 500g-2kg weighing drones.
  • Allows flying over buildings.

Note: Remember, your journey starts in the open category for both certificates.

The Open Category is just the beginning, as you’ll need both certificates to progress to the more advanced Special category.

This progression is a testament to your growing skills and knowledge in drone operation.

National-Specified Drone Laws in Portugal

Although EASA laws regulate drone activities in the country, there are some Portugal-defined regulations applicable nationally, including the following: 

  • Insurance coverage is mandatory for all drones weighing 900g and above.
  • The minimum age for drone remote pilots is 16 years.

Which Are the No-Fly Zones in Portugal?

The Portuguese authority prohibits, conditions, or bans drone operations in some areas, including the following: 

  • Prisons and educational centres of the General Rehabilitation

  • Airports and airfields’ specific operational protection areas

  • Embassies and consular representations

  • Police and civil protection missions

  • Prison Services Directorate

  • Security services areas

  • Most national parks

  • Military installations

  • Sovereign bodies

  • Open gatherings

Avoid flying your drone in these areas without permission from the area’s authority in charge.

Conclusion

The latest drone laws in Portugal are under the European Union’s ‘umbrella’ drone regulatory framework. The few nation-specified rules only apply to operations within the country.

Portugal’s drone regulations classify their operations into Open, Specified, and Certified categories.

Hence, you must identify your category and subcategory (for the ‘Open’ one) and adhere to the rules relevant to your class.

Drone registration, remote pilot license, and drone remote ID are the laws’ mandatory requirements to ensure safe and legally binding drone flights.

Insurance coverage is compulsory only for commercial operators, but the ANAC recommends it for other fliers.

Contact ANAC for more information on particular cases via the following:

  • Address: National Civil Aviation Authority Rua B, Building 4 – Humberto Delgado Airport – 1749-034 Lisbon
  • Telephone: +351 21 284 22 26 
  • Fax: +351 21 840 23 98

FAQs

Yes, there’s a minimum age to fly a drone in Portugal. The drone remote pilot’s minimum age in the ‘Open’ and ‘Specific’ categories is 16.

However, there are exemptions for flying:

  • In subcategory A1 with a Class 0 drone
  • A 250g, privately built drone.
  • Under close supervision of a competent remote pilot

Yes, you can fly a drone in urban Portugal. However, you must obtain the necessary prior authorisations and permits from the relevant authorities, such as ANAC. Otherwise, flying a drone in urban areas is against the law.    

Yes, your Portugal drone registration is acceptable throughout Europe.

Since Portugal is an EU member country, your unique registration number is valid in all EASA States. The Aviation Authority doesn’t allow multiple registrations.

You identify drone geographical zones in Portugal from the country’s published maps.

Each state has a map showing no-fly zones and areas requiring prior flight authorisation.

Also, you can check out the regions using the relevant mobile phone apps.

In Portugal, the penalties for violating drone regulations include fines, drone confiscation, and criminal prosecution (which applies in severe cases).

The punishment’s severity depends on the magnitude of the law violation.



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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