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Drone Laws in China (Complete 2023 Guide)

Updated in 2023 by Paul Posea
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height flight limit 1

120m max height

cant fly over crowds of people 1

Don’t fly over crowds

plane icon white 1 1

Don't interfere with aircraft

line of sight law 1

Only line of sight

China has many places that make for excellent drone shots and footage. But before you decide to document your visit to China’s wonderful monuments and nature with your drone you must keep in mind the drone laws set in place by Chinese authorities.

Which brings us to the topic of this article. Drone laws in China and how to navigate them as a drone pilot. Stick around because this’ll be an in-depth article.

Can I fly my drone in China?

In most cases, yes. You can fly your drone in China as long as it’s within the rules and regulations set by the Chinese authorities.

When we say authorities we’re more specifically talking about the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

If you’d like to contact the Civil Aviation Administration of China  directly before you travel with any questions you might have, e-mail them at fsdcaac@public3.bta.net.cn 

Where can I fly my drone in China?

Good question because not all places in China are okay for you to fly over. China has special zones where flying drones are prohibited. As a rule of thumb, avoid flying over crowds, critical infrastructure areas and military bases as well as airports.

When it comes to National Parks in which case you must seek clarification from the authority concerned.

Take care not to fly over private land and buildings unless you have express authorization from the owner. 

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General rules for flying a drone in China

Before we get into the specific rules, let’s talk about the licensing system that China has in place for drones, as they’re pretty serious about that.

Licensing & Registration Requirements for Flying a Drone in China

Registration – How to register your drone in China?

Any drone that weighs over 250 grams is required to be registered with the CAAC.

To register you will need to provide various personal information as well as some information regarding the drone in question. Information such as:

  • Owner’s name
  • Valid personal ID number (such as ID or passport number)
  • Mobile phone and email address
  • Product model number
  • Serial Number
  • Purpose of use

Once done, print the registration sticker with the QR code and attach it to your drone in a clearly visible manner. (you’ll be able to download it after registration)

To register your drone, click this link right here. And if you’re still confused on the exact registration process, I’ve found that this page offers a clear walkthrough of it.

Remember that you’ll most likely need a Chinese phone number for verification and you’ll also need to have someone that understands Chinese with you.

Licensing – How to get my drone license in China?

There are three scenarios in which you’ll need to be licensed in order to fly your drone:

  • If your drone weighs from 7 kg to 116kg, it requires a license from the CAAC.
  • If you’re flying your drone for a commercial use, you’ll need a license from the CAAC.
  • Any drone weighing over 116 kilograms requires a pilot’s license and UAV certification for operation.

This document issued by the CAAC sheds more light on how to obtain these licenses.

Now with that out of the way, let’s get into the actual rules that regulate drone flight in China.

Drone rules in China

  • Any drone weighing over 250 grams needs to be registered, see the section above on how that works.
  • In some cases, licensing is required. Check the section above to learn more about that.
  • Always maintain visual line of sight with your drone.
  • Don’t exceed 120m in altitude with your drone.
  • Don’t fly in densely populated areas… which is like most of chinese urban areas.
  • All drones are subject to China’s “No-Fly-Zones” or NFZs. Beijing is a NFZ. You may consult this NFZ map as a resource.
  • You can’t fly in controlled airspace unless you have permission from the CAAC.

If you’d like more information regarding these rules, the best source is the CAAC themselves. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I board a plane with my drone in China?

A solid question if you’re a traveler. It is okay to move about public transportation with your drone when in China. The only issue that arises is how you store your drone batteries.

How do I register my drone online?

If you’re a foreigner then you're in luck. In China, there is an English version language registration CAAC site available. If this is hard to navigate you can try the Chinese language version by following the steps laid out. 

  • Sign up for a CAAC website account, enter your number and receive a confirmation code.
  • Upon entering your confirmation code, hit enter.
  • Register the drone with CAAC, add the drone to the inventory on your CAAC account.
  • Get the QR code on your email, print it out and stick it onto your drone. That way it can easily be identified.

Conclusion

China is home to many beautiful historical sites that make for some of the best shots and films out there. I think any drone enthusiast visiting China should take their time and take as much footage as they can, but only after familiarizing themselves with the legal landscape regarding drone use.

Otherwise you might find yourself with your drone confiscated, a hefty fine or worse, even jail time in some rare cases. 

author-paul-posea-picture
Hi, I'm Paul.
A big drone enthusiast, reviewing, comparing and writing about drones since 2015. I'm all about helping people enjoy and even monetize their hobby.
paul posea
Paul Posea
Hi, I'm a long-time drone reviewer and I hope my articles and comparisons on this site as well as Dronesgator's youtube channel are of as much help as possible.

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