From a Bird’s Perspective: A Look into 2021 Croatian Drone Regulations

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The last decade has seen a rise in the popularity of unmanned aerial vehicles (a.k.a. drones) both among amateur tourists and seasoned professionals visiting Croatia. However, in order to legally fly them on Croatian territory, you need a permit In an effort to speed up the process of registration and permit issuance, Croatia Control Ltd –  Croatian air navigation service provider launched the world’s first app to apply for such permits – AMC (The Airspace Management Cell) Portal Mobile.  

In 2016, TCN’s reported on a story of a tourist from the U.S. who had to remove his promo video of Split from Youtube, while his Croatian partner received a fine, because of the violation of the Croatian Aerial Vehicle Ordinance. And in 2018, we did a piece on the unclear rules on who is the competent authority for issuing drone permits. So, did anything change since then? Yes and no.

In 2020, the new EU Drone Regulation came into force in Croatia, so there are essentially two levels of authority you ought to obey: the supranational (the EU level) and the national (Croatian level). Let’s look at the EU level first. 

As Drone Traveller writes, the EU Drone Regulation has significantly harmonized the rules across the EU. Now all you have to do only is register as a remote operator in one EU country of your choice in order for your drone license to be accepted across the rest of the EU.  

Under the new EU Regulation, registration is mandatory for all drone operators, unless both of the following requirements are met: 1) the drone weighs less than 250 grams and 2) is not equipped with sensors to collect personal data (e.g. camera, microphone). 

Keep in mind that, if you want to capture footage, you must also receive a separate permit from the State Geodetic Administration (this is where the national level of authority comes into play).

All drones must be visibly marked with the individual registration number (e-ID). Depending on the category, pilots must take exams to obtain the EU drone license and must insure their drones.

You can check the detailed instructions on the site of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency by clicking here

As for the national regulations, in order to operate a drone (but, remember! one without sensors for collecting personal data) a person must be at least 16 years of age and make sure that the drone insurance they have taken out is valid in Croatia and covers any third-party damage that may occur. Ideally, proof of this insurance should be written in English.

Depending on the area that the flight will be conducted above, there are two separate procedures:

The automated procedure for the establishment of an ad hoc structure (5 minutes before activity start) is applied if the flights are conducted:

  • in uncontrolled airspace up to 120 m above ground level
  • in controlled airspace outside the radius of 5 km from the aerodrome reference point, up to 50 m above ground level.

The automated procedure for the establishment of an ad hoc structure for obtaining a real-time approval on the day of activity is available via the AMC Portal Mobile application in three steps:

  • Sign up with the Croatian Civil Aviation Agency’s unmanned aircraft system operators register.
  • Download the app from Google Play or App Store to your smartphone.
  • Sign up or log in to the app with your username and password.

Submit your request via the AMC Portal or send us the filled-in form by e-mail no later than 7 working days before the planned day of activity start to: [email protected]

The regular procedure for the establishment of an ad hoc structure (7 working days before activity start) is applied if the flights are conducted:

  • in uncontrolled airspace over 120 m above ground level
  • in controlled airspace within the radius of 5 km from the aerodrome reference point and/or
  • in controlled airspace over 50 m above ground level.

For the regular procedure, fill in the form and submit it via the AMC Portal 7 working days before the planned activity. 

You can check the competent air traffic control unit here

As for aerial footage, State Geodetic Administration is responsible for issuing permits for taking aerial photography, but the application form available at the SGA site is entirely in (sigh) Croatian. Hint: this is the part I talked about in the introduction of this article – the ‘still no changes’ part. Although the Decree on Aerial Photography has been amended, the basic rules which we wrote about in this article have remained the same.

To sum it up,  you may not take aerial recordings for private purposes. If you are a business owner however and are registered to take aerial footage in the country in which you registered your business, you are able to apply for a permit, but I recommend you start the process at least a couple of months in advance, for your own peace of mind.

For more on travel in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.


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