Quick & Easy Guide to Philippine Drone Laws, Certificates, and Registrations (2021 Updated)

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Quick & Easy Guide to Philippine Drone Laws, Certificates, and Registrations (2021 Updated)


Drones have never been more accessible and more popular in the Philippines than today.

As a result, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) revised their guidelines to include non-commercial drones and ensure the safety of Filipinos who want to fly them as a hobby. 

Then just last October, the CAAP held a 4-part webinar to explain and answer questions about the latest Philippine Civil Aviation Regulations. This is the newest set of laws, safety, and certification regulations that apply today. 

If you want to fly quadcopters, fixed wing drones, or other remotely piloted aircraft and UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), you need to know and follow these rules by heart – or risk being fined and your equipment confiscated.

Here are the most common questions about rules for flying a drone in the Philippines for 2021:

  1. Do I need a permit or license to fly drones in the Philippines?
  2. What kind of drones can I use as a hobby?
  3. Can I fly my drone anytime?
  4. How high can I fly my drone?
  5. What are no-fly zones I should avoid?
  6. How many people must be in a place to be considered a populated area?
  7. Can I take pictures of my subdivision/condo/barangay?
  8. What are the safety rules, regulations, and limitations for hobbyists?
  9. Can I get penalized for violating drone safety regulations?
  10. I’d like to start my own business for drone photography and videos. Is that allowed?
  11. What is considered commercial use?
  12. What are the requirements for commercial use of drones?
  13. How do I apply for the RPAS Controller Certificate?
  14. How do I apply for the RPAS Operator Certificate?
  15. How do I register my drone and get a RPAS Registration Certificate?
  16. Where can I ask other questions about drones and other remotely piloted aircraft in the Philippines?

1. Do I need a permit, license, or be certified to fly drones in the Philippines?

You don’t need a permit and are not required to register your drone to fly recreationally. If you want to pilot a small drone for fun around your property or to post photos on your drone blog, go ahead.

However, there are some regions in the Philippines such as Davao City with local laws that require registration. We always recommend to register your drone even if it’s not required by the CAAP to avoid trouble like this, be CAAP-certified, and as a safety precaution.

You need a license, specifically a RPAS Controller Certificate (for yourself or your pilot), RPAS Registration Certificate (for your drone), and an RPAS Operator Certificate (for your business) from the CAAP if you plan to:

  • Operate drones commercially (ex: start a business for aerial photography/videography or construction surveying)
  • Fly big drones that weigh more than 7 kg
  • Fly in restricted conditions such as going inside restricted air space, conducting night flights, flying over populated areas, and going above maximum altitude (these also require special flight permits)

You can find the requirements to be certified by the CAAP and for the commercial use of drones in question 12.

Read more: Do I need a drone license to fly a drone for my blog or Youtube channel?

Drone Laws - Do I need a permit

2. What kind of drones can I use as a hobby?

If you want to do it as a hobby and don’t have any credentials or formal drone training, then you are only allowed to use small UAVs that weigh 7 kg or less (around 15.4 pounds). Most consumer-level drones you can buy are under this category and won’t be a problem.

Remotely piloted aircraft that weigh more than 7 kg need to be registered with the CAAP first, AND you need to get a Controller Certificate before you can fly them.

There are more requirements if your drone weighs 150 kg or more. You’ll need a Special Certificate for Airworthiness and an Experimental Certificate. 


3. Can I fly my drone anytime?

No, you are only allowed to fly during day time when the sky is well lit (no night flying after sunset and before sunrise). 

You can also only pilot your drone as long as you have a clear view of it and where it’s going (within your visual line of sight). This also means no flying during bad weather because rain and fog can hide your drone.

Drone Safety Night Flights are Not Allowed Without Permits

4. What are no-fly zones I should avoid?

The biggest no-fly zones are airports. You need to stay clear at least 10 km from their area of operation which can extend beyond the actual airport property.

Highly populated areas are also considered no-fly zones. This includes:

  • Schools and universities
  • Malls and markets
  • Any place with large public gatherings

You also must also avoid places with controlled or restricted airspace like:

  • Government buildings (ex: Malacanang Palace)
  • Military bases
  • National parks (may sometimes require a permit from the local park supervisor)

5. How high can I fly my drone?

You can fly up to the maximum altitude of 400 feet above ground level (around 122 meters). You need approval from the CAAP to go higher.

Take note that this measures the distance between your aircraft and the ground directly below it as it flies. If you take off from a hill, building, or any elevated space then you need to adjust down your flight path when you go over lower ground because you will violate the maximum altitude.

Again, you must follow visual line of sight (VSOL) rules. Do not go behind buildings, large trees and other structures like billboards that will block your view and signal to the drone.

Follow drone rules for line of sight

6. How many people must be in a place to be considered a populated area?

The CAAP does not give a solid number for this so it is your responsibility to use good judgement. 

Remember that the point of the rule is for safety. The more people, the higher the chances someone will get hit if your drone malfunctions or crashes.

Anywhere there is a crowd or likely to develop a crowd is a populated area. That includes most streets in the city. It also covers concerts, sport events, and other performances. 


7. Can I take pictures of my subdivision/condo/barangay?

You can take photos and record video as long as you follow all the rules above and respect people’s privacy. Don’t go into private property or record private places.

Remember that subdivisions and residential areas are considered populated zones that drones are not allowed to fly over. The Officer-in-Charge of the Regulatory Standards Development of the CAAP, Frank Marty, even said during their latest webinar last October 2020:

“There are several reports from authorities and sightings of drones in residential areas. This poses risks not only to the safety of the residents, but also to their privacy and security.”

Keep your distance or else you risk getting penalized by the CAAP.


8. What are the drone safety rules, regulations, and limitations for hobbyists?

You are required to follow the rules below if you are not certified by the CAAP and do not have a special flight permit:

  • Only use small drones that weigh 7 kg or less
  • Only fly during daytime
  • Maintain visual line of sight (don’t fly farther than where you can see it)
  • Ensure your aircraft is at least 30 meters (around 98 feet) away from other people not involved in the drone operation at all times
  • Stay away from populated areas and restricted or controlled airspace like schools, markets, government buildings, and army bases
  • Stay at least 10 km away from airports
  • Limit your altitude to a height of 400 feet maximum

Click here for a summary video of drone safety regulations in the Philippines made by the CAAP.

Drone Safety Avoid Populous Areas

9. Can I get penalized for violating drone safety regulations?

Yes.

You may be fined anywhere between P20,000 and P100,000 for each violation of CAAP rules, even if you are only doing it as a hobby or recreationally.

Watch this video by Dodeca Drones on the Do’s and Dont’s of flying and operating your drone:


10. I’d like to start my own business for drone photography and videos. Is that allowed?

Yes, it’s perfectly fine to provide these services as a business as long as you have the necessary permits and certificates for commercial use.


11. What is considered commercial use?

The CAAP considers “any job or project that is done for remuneration” as a commercial operation.

In other words: if you’re making money from it, then it’s commercial and you need a certificate.

Examples of common commercial services include:


12. What are the requirements for commercial use of drones?

You first need to get the following 3 things before you operate:

  • Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPAS) Controller Certificate – This proves you have enough skills and knowledge to safely operate remotely piloted aircraft
  • RPAS Operator Certificate – This recognizes your business has sufficient safety policies, well-trained staff, and proper facilities and equipment to provide drone services
  • RPAS Certificate of Registration – This document assigns official registration numbers to your aircraft that certifies them as fit to use

13. How do I apply for the RPAS Controller Certificate?

Applying as a drone pilot or controller is easy and the licensing staff are very helpful, but it does take time. 

Click here for a comprehensive infographic guide on how to become a licensed drone pilot.

Here’s a short summary of what you need to be CAAP-certified drone pilot or controller.

  1. Prepare the following requirements and submit them in person at the CAAP licensing department:
  2. Get a Routing Slip from the licensing staff and let them guide you through the next steps that includes taking the knowledge test. 
  3. After you pass the written test, you will be given a Knowledge Test Report. Submit this report to get a Skills Test Permit and schedule.
  4. Show up on your scheduled day and pass the Skills Test. You can now apply for the Controller Certificate by submitting:
    • Knowledge Test and Skills Test results
    • 2 1×1 pictures
  5. Pick up your certificate after 5 working days

The Licensing and Certification Department address is located at the CAAP Annex Building, Old MIA Road, Pasay City. You can contact them at [email protected].

How to Get Your RPAS Controller Certificate(1)

14. How do I apply for the RPAS Operator Certificate?

Click here for a comprehensive infographic guide on getting operator certification.

Below are the steps to get your business certified to use drones commercially:

  1. Submit a Letter of Intent to the Flight Standard Inspectory Service (FSIS) Assistant Director General II, together with the Pre-Application Statement of Intent (PASI) Form (download here)
  2. Optional: You may choose to schedule a meeting to discuss the process and requirements
  3. Wait for FSIS approval. Once accepted, they will give you a list of additional requirements about your business, staff, policies, and facilities to submit. These may include:
    • User’s manual from the manufacturer of your RPAS
    • Operations manual from your organization
    • Training manual from your organization
    • Civil Aeronautics Board Franchise (for agricultural purposes)
    • Lease/Service Contract (between contractor and agriculture company)
    • RPAS Insurance/Third Party Liability
    • Special Certificate of Airworthiness (if applicable)
    • SEC or DTI registration
    • RPAS Certificate of Registration from CAAP
    • Photocopy of your primary Controller Certificate and their resume
    • Organizational chart
    • Pictures of your facilities and equipment
    • Copy of the official receipt
  1. Submit the documents, then wait again for FSIS to check if your documents are complete and if your organization meets their standards. If accepted, your organization will undergo several inspections:
    • Safety inspection of your facilities and equipment 
    • Organizational inspection of your staff and management responsibilities 
    • RPAS inspection where you will demonstrate your services while they observe and evaluate your operational and safety policies and procedures (ex: do you follow the flight procedures in your manuals)
    • Personal inspection of your qualifications if you are able to meet your responsibilities 
  2. If you pass all inspections, you will then be given final certification. 
How to Get Your RPAS Operator Certificate(1)

15. How do I register my drone and get a RPAS Registration Certificate?

Getting your drone officially registered can take 15 days to process, so make sure you do it right the first time. The steps are:

  1. Write a Letter of Intent addressed to the Officer in Charge of the Flight Standards Inspector Service (FSIS) of the CAAP, submit it in person to their office and have the original copy marked as received. Make sure you include: 
    • Your purpose for registration
    • Technical specifications, model, and serial number of your aircraft
  2. Compile the following required documents while you wait a few days to a week for CAAP to respond:
    • Notarized and completed registration form (call CAAP for the latest version)
    • Technical specifications of your drone
    • History of ownership (only for leased units)
    • Proof of ownership (ex: invoice or affidavit of ownership)
    • Insurance Policy for Third party liability
    • Original DTI Certificate or SEC corporation documents (if applicable)
    • Secretary’s Certificate (for corporations)
    • Import document (customs release certificate if your drone was held by customs)
    • RPAS Operator Certificate (if you have one already)
    • Registration fee of P1,500 + 12% tax if it’s your first registration
  3. Wait a few working days, then call CAAP and ask for your registration marking number.
    • Get a permanent waterproof sticker with your registration marking made and place it on your drone and the controller. This marker must be clear and visible at all times so make it big. 
    • Print out colored photos of your drone that show the markings and serial number from multiple angles.
  4. Return to CAAP with your drone and get your registration marking reservation approval letter. Submit this letter with the other required documents, pay the registration fee, then have your drone inspected.
  5. Call CAAP and ask for an update of your registration when it gets close to 15 days. Return to their office and pick up your Certificate of Registration when it’s ready.
How to Register Your Drone and Get Your RPAS Registration Certificate

16. Where can I ask other questions about drones and other remotely piloted aircraft in the Philippines?

For any questions or clarifications, send the Philippine Drone Network a message, leave a comment here, or contact the relevant department of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines directly below:

Primary Email: [email protected]
Flight Standards Inspectorate Service: [email protected]
Licensing and Certification Department: [email protected]
Regulatory Standards Department: [email protected]
Phone: +63 2 7944-2142  or 7944-2143

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Comments (30)

  • Genesis G. Epistola Reply

    Sana my office din sila dito sa Region 2 :) hirap po kasi pumunta ng Manila this pandemic..

    February 4, 2021 at 4:25 am
    • Philippine Drone Network Reply

      Hi Genesis. Isa sa nirecommend namin at ng marami pang ibang drone operators sa CAAP ay ang pagtayo ng satellite offices sa ibang airports para mas madaling magregister at matuto ng tamang paglipad ng drones. Sa ngayon pwede niyo po tawagan si CAAP dahil pumapayag sila minsan na magpadala ng staff sa ibang region kung may gusto magregister.

      February 4, 2021 at 4:39 am
  • DONG ASUAL Reply

    How much CAAP charge for the drone pilot or controller license?

    March 30, 2021 at 1:35 pm
    • Philippine Drone Network Reply

      Hi Dong. The certification fee is P3000 for 5 years validity. There are also other fees for the exam. It’s best to call CAAP to get the latest exact fees before going there.

      March 30, 2021 at 2:05 pm
  • Sir Ben Reply

    Need pa din po ba ng DTI certificate (business registration) kung ikaw ay freelance aerial photographer and videographer lang and you only do it as a part time job? to be able to obtain an RPAS Registration Certificate?

    April 25, 2021 at 7:36 am
    • Philippine Drone Network Reply

      Hi Ben. DTI registration is not required for individuals applying for the RPAS Registration Certificate.

      But if you are getting paid to do aerial photography, then you still need to have a Controller Certificate, Registration Certificate, and Operator Certificate because CAAP regulations clearly state that anyone who provides commercial services must have all 3. The RPA Operator Certificate is the one where you need to submit DTI registration. We recommend freelancers to register an official business name for themselves with DTI (which can be done online) so they can freelance as a legitimate business. This lets you avoid troubles with the BIR and also give you and your client safety and insurance. Otherwise, your client may report you to the authorities as an unlicensed provider if something goes wrong during an operation.

      April 25, 2021 at 8:17 am
  • Sir Ben Reply

    Salamat po. To make the long story short po pala, hindi po uubra ang freelancers na walang registered business. Kasi ho, madali lng po tlaga mag apply sa DTI online pero kung sinasabi nyo kelangan pati BIR para sa business iba po yun sa BIR ng self-employed dahil may sarili BIR # ang business at may sarili din individual TIN ang isang tao. Bago po kami makakuha ng BIR Cert para sa business need po namin ng BRGY.PERMIT, Engineering Dept. Inspection, Environmental Compliance Inspection, FIRE INSPECTION CERTIFICATE, SANITARY PERMIT at bukod sa lahat MAYOR’s permit. Whereas, fire inspection certificate and sanitary certificate doesn’t seem to have any relation in operating a drone. May nakalagay pa po na need din ng TPL Insurance? may local insurance company po ba who covers TPL para sa UAV pilots? good luck sa mga freelancers.

    April 25, 2021 at 11:01 am
  • Angelica Orijola Reply

    Hi, how much it will cost me to register a drone (Mavic 2 Pro)?

    Thank you.

    June 11, 2021 at 2:56 pm
    • Philippine Drone Network Reply

      Hi Angelica. Registration is P1500 + 12% tax. See the answer to question #15 on this page for registration steps.

      June 11, 2021 at 2:58 pm
  • Neil Escueta Reply

    How many drone pilot are allowed to apply for the certification for commercial use?

    June 14, 2021 at 6:05 pm
  • Jey Reply

    Need ba license if pang vlog lang like vlog ng mga house and lot?

    June 19, 2021 at 1:21 pm
    • Philippine Drone Network Reply

      Hi Jey. Hindi kailangan kung kayo ang may ari ng property. Tandaan rin na ang subdivision ay itinuturing “populated area”.

      June 19, 2021 at 1:25 pm
      • Jey Reply

        Mag vlog po sa mga house and lot na for sale po. Pang upload sa yt at fb pero walang bayad.

        June 19, 2021 at 1:38 pm
  • STEPHEN DIAMANTE VALENZUELA Reply

    Can I bring drone outside the country.is there any requirements.

    June 24, 2021 at 11:12 am
    • Philippine Drone Network Reply

      Hi Stephen. What drone model do you have? You can, but you need to research the local drone rules and licensing and importing requirements of the country you’re traveling to.

      June 24, 2021 at 11:20 am
  • Benhur Lacumba Reply

    saan po ba pwedeng ireport ang isang drone operator na kahit sa gabi ay nagpapalipad nito sa loob mismo ng isang subdivision.

    June 25, 2021 at 9:29 pm
    • Philippine Drone Network Reply

      Hi Benhur. Pwede niyo report sa barangay or local police kung nagpapalipad ang drone operator sa gabi o sa loob ng subdivision dahil violation ito ng Philippine Civil Aviation Regulations (PCAR). Labag ito sa section 11.11.3 (flying in populated areas is not allowed without a permit) at ng section 11.11.7.3 (night flying is not allowed without a permit).

      Itawag niyo rin sa Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) sa 02 87944-2142 o 02 87944-2143.

      June 25, 2021 at 10:08 pm
  • BRYAN ARAP Reply

    Hoping there will be remote satellite offices catering UAV Pilot Licensing especially now we are still in Pandemic. I am from Cotabato City here in Mindanao, it would cost me up a lot to travel to MLA just to apply adding up to the cost is the RTPCR Result and so on. It would be more convenient if they were accepting Online Submission.

    July 23, 2021 at 6:50 pm
    • Philippine Drone Network Reply

      Hi Bryan. Yes, we’re pushing the CAAP to open more offices outside of Manila to make application easier for everyone. In the meantime, you can contact them because some requirements can be done online now.

      September 29, 2021 at 10:31 am
  • Al Divinagracia Reply

    In our Municipality, all airspace is declared as No-Fly zone

    August 12, 2021 at 11:38 am
  • Kengel Reply

    Hello panu mawala Sensor Issue? Skydio 2 drone namin US nabili personal use since nasa sports husband ko bike. Nagamit lang namin 3x din next SENSOR ISSUE na lumabas sa monitor niya. Need pa ba register? 8kilos timbang ng drone. Davao city kami.

    September 7, 2021 at 10:17 pm
  • HBY Reply

    Hello. Hope everyone is safe and in good health.

    I would like to be informed regarding an upcoming renewal
    procedures for RPAS Controller Certificate holder and if
    the original drone registered was sold, is it possible to transfer
    its registration number and apply it to the same brand, size but
    with different features. Thank you.

    September 15, 2021 at 3:58 pm
    • Philippine Drone Network Reply

      Hi HBY. The registration number is not transferable because the CAAP needs to inspect the new drone.

      September 28, 2021 at 10:02 pm
  • Neil Escueta Reply

    Where can we get RPA Insurance/Third Party Liability (TPL)? Any provider recommendation?

    September 29, 2021 at 10:28 am
  • Morpheus Reply

    What about FPV drones po? Di po kasama yung DJI FPV Drone only the Digital FPV System kasi di naman po ma re repair yun ng ikaw lng unlike with the personal built or the bind-and-fly ones that are carbon fiber frames. Will it be granted the same license and registration? Kasi wala po dibang safety sensors yung mga yun unlike all of DJI’s drones including their FPV model.

    October 17, 2021 at 11:35 pm
  • James Bardos Reply

    Hi there,

    How much to get permit from the city/municipality (example Taguig) for drone shoot?

    October 19, 2021 at 6:49 pm
    • Philippine Drone Network Reply

      Hi James. Fees change from city to city because there’s no national permit fee. You’ll have to ask the city office yourself.

      October 19, 2021 at 8:45 pm
  • Allan Reply

    Is it possible to fly near on the waters across Mall of Asia/Solaire? What would be the requirements?

    October 22, 2021 at 11:11 am
    • Philippine Drone Network Reply

      Hi Allan. That area is within the restricted airspace of NAIA and is directly along its runway. You’ll need a special permit from the CAAP to conduct any drone operations.

      October 22, 2021 at 11:18 am

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