Dronesgator logo

All Drone Laws in South Africa For 2023 (Ultimate Guide)

Updated in 2023 by Paul Posea
south africa drone laws
height flight limit 1

120m max height

cant fly over crowds of people 1

50m away from people

image 35

500m max range

line of sight law 1

Only line of sight

The South Africa National Aviation Authority, SACAA developed a list of regulations for all drone users countrywide. The rules apply to both commercial and recreational drone users. The country is also considered one of the very first to introduce rules on RPAS. 

Are drones legal in South Africa?

Before visiting the South African region, you might be wondering whether drones are legal or not.

The answer is, Yes! Drones are now legalized in the country since 2015. But, there are several conditions that every user must adhere to. These regulations were developed to promote the security of both people and properties within the state.

Next, we will learn about all the rules and regulations for commercial and recreational drones that you must follow when flying your drone in South Africa.

Who to contact?

To get in touch with the Civil Aviation Authority, limit your reach out during official work hours. 

Contact information

Johannesburg

Email: rpasinbox@caa.co.za

Tel: +270115451000

Cape Town

Email: rpasinbox@caa.co.za 

Tel: +270219344744

Can I bring a drone to South Africa?

The next thing that you might be thinking about is whether you can bring your drones to South Africa or not. This question troubles most people since there are different rules and regulations for drones in different airports.

The answer to this question is definitely yes, you can bring your drone to South Africa without any issue at all. However, the drone that you are bringing to the country must be in your possession and in your name.

image 31

What are the drone rules in South Africa?

Now that you've learned all the basic information about drones in South Africa, let's get into the rules. As mentioned earlier, there are rules for both commercial and recreational drones therefore, you must follow them accordingly.

General Rules for Drones

[Mentioned with icons]

  • If the purpose of your drone flight is recreational, you do not have to register your drone or seek any licenses. However, the SACAA RPAS rules and regulations still apply.
  • A recreational drone user should not fly a drone exceeding 7 Kg. This should not be a problem as hobby pilots aren’t allowed to transport cargo or carry passengers.
  • Night flying is prohibited and day travel is only authorized if the weather is clear.
  • You must always maintain a visual line of sight in what is referred to as R-VLOS.
  • The maximum distance permitted for the drone pilot is 500 m while maintaining direct sight.
  • The drone should fly no higher than 120 m (400 ft) from ground
  • Keep away (50 m) from buildings, people, and roads.
  • Maintain a healthy 10 Km or more away from any airport
  • You can look up the no-fly zones within the country. Good examples are prisons, courts of law, nuclear power plants, and a lot more.

Laws for Recreational Drones

If you wish to fly your drone just for the sake of fun and recreation, then you must learn about all the rules that you need to follow first.

Before we go dive deep into the rules and laws, let me clarify the difference between commercial and recreational drones first. 

Drones that are used solely for the sake of recreation with no commercial outcomes, gain, or interest and recreational drones. In order to fly recreational drones in South Africa, the Pilot needs to follow all the below-mentioned rules and regulations. 

  • The pilot must safely fly the remotely piloted aircraft in all conditions
  • The drone must always be within the direct line of sight range
  • You are not allowed to fly your drone at night or in conditions with poor visibility
  • You must always inspect and check the drone properly before each flight
  • You must never fly your drone near a group of people or vehicles or even near any private property without proper permission
  • You can't fly your drone within the vicinity of manned aircraft and airports
  • The maximum weight of the drone should never exceed 7 Kg including all the payload 
  • You must avoid flying in controlled, restricted, and prohibited airspaces

Rules on commercial drone use in South Africa

Going by law, South Africa requires any use of drones that results in a transactional exchange to be classified as commercial drone use.

If you fall under this category you need a drone license yourself and registration for the drone. In the event you are a foreigner with a drone pilot license, you should have it validated and approved by contacting gouwene@caa.co.za 

The eligibility test for commercial drone use is:

  • Over 18 years of age
  • Good health medical assessment report
  • English language proficiency

Where to fly my drone while in South Africa

Since you've learned about different rules and regulations for drones in South Africa it's time to learn about the locations where you are allowed to fly your drone in South Africa. We all know that South Africa is quite big but you don't have to memorize all the places, we've got you covered.

A look at the app will point out the areas that need attention and those that do not. Avoid going near any military infrastructure or any property of national significance.

You can fly your drone in all national parks but you will have to take a permit first. In terms of restricted airspace, you are not allowed to fly within the vicinity of any airport without prior permission from the authorities.

Should I get a drone license in South Africa?

Contact a registered training academy in the country. You can find them here. The license is generally in two parts:

  • The theory and practical exam
  • Special form

How long does my license in South Africa remain valid?

The license remains valid for two years from the date it was certified. Upon certification, fill out this form.

How to register a drone in South Africa

The registration process is quite simple just like in any other country. To register your drone, you will need to fill out this form (Form CA-47R1) and submit it to the authorized body. After registering your drone, you will be given a registration number that must be displayed on the drone at all times while flying.

How old must one be to register for a drone in South Africa?

To be eligible for drone registration, you should be 16 years old. 

Can I be penalized for illegally flying a drone in South Africa?

As with everywhere else, the severity of your punishments depends on the charge levied against you. If you are lucky, you will part with a hefty fine of 3,500 Rand. If unlucky, you are looking at 10 years worth of jail time.

image 24

What are my top drones to fly safely in South Africa?

My following two recommendations are 2 great compact drones that are quite silent and also small enough to travel with and not stand out as annoying.

1. DJI Mini 2- The best international travel drone (under 250g)

camera-icon-spec

4k

battery-icon-spec

31 min

range-icon-spec

10 km

drone-icon-spec

No follow-me

image 25

DJI has surprised us with this incredible camera drone under 250g, which is legal to fly in most countries without registration.

It comes at a very cheap price for its incredible specs.I have covered it much more in-depth in my article review and even compared it with the Mavic Air 2.

2. DJI Mavic Air 2 - My favorite drone overall

camera-icon-spec

4k 60p

battery-icon-spec

34 min

range-icon-spec

10 km

drone-icon-spec

Follow me

image 26

If you want more control over things like shutter speed, iso, and such, the best professional drone that still falls under the 500g category is the DJI Mavic Air.

It's made mostly for people who want to play around with settings and enter into the pro category.

DJI lowered its price since it was first released.

Restricted Areas and Geofencing (Drone Flying map)

The best way to figure out what areas you can fly in, while you're here is by consulting DJI's official map.

They do a great job mapping the places that one should avoid while flying in every country:

  • airports
  • military bases
  • prisons
  • power plants
  • any high-risk areas

These would be the current updated drone laws for South Africa. I suggest checking my full map with all the countries' drone laws to see where it's best to travel.

Conclusion 

If you are going to visit South Africa, make sure you’ve learned all the dos and don’ts of flying drones in this region. This will help you have a safe journey and enjoy flying your drone without getting yourself into trouble.

Also, keep in mind that, commercial and recreational drones are treated differently in most countries therefore you will need to prepare yourself accordingly. Last but not least, always follow rules and regulations and make sure to respect the laws of every country.

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.

Get a FREE Beginner Drone  Checklist

drone-preflight-checklist-free-graphic.png
This checklist is made so you can always make sure you bring the things and do what's important before you fly. 
LET'S GO!
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram