Singapore’s New Drone Regulations

City-state launches one-stop online portal for permit applications.

Singapore’s New Drone Regulations
Credit: Flickr/Christopher Michel

Earlier this week, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) launched an online portal for operators of unmanned aircraft – popularly known as drones – to apply for necessary permits.

The portal would serve as a ‘one-stop’ destination for permit applications to streamline the process for doing so. CAAS would be responsible for processing the applications and coordinating with other relevant agencies where needed.

The move comes after Singapore’s parliament passed new laws regulating the use of unmanned aircraft last month under the Unmanned Aircraft (Public Safety and Security) Bill, which amended the Air Navigation Act and Public Order Act. As has been the case with other countries, Singapore has moved to regulate drones as their growing popularity has raised safety, enforcement and privacy concerns in the city-state.

According to the CAAS website, two permits – an operator permit and an activity permit – are required for flying drones that weigh more than 7 kilograms (15.4 pounds) for any purpose. Those who fly drones for business purposes will need both permits regardless of the weight of the aircraft.

In contrast, those who do so for recreation or research do not require a permit if the weight of the aircraft is less than 7kg. However, an activity permit would be required if the unmanned aircraft is flown outdoors in a restricted or danger area or within 5km of a military base regardless of operating height. If drones are flown indoors at a private residence or indoor area and the flying does not affect the general public at all, no permits are required.

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CAAS also notes that additional permits would be needed if items are dropped from the unmanned aircraft, if radio frequencies and power limits used for operating the aircraft do not comply with the guidelines of the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), if the aircraft is flown over protected or special event areas, or if photographs are taken in protected areas. A list of such areas has been drawn up, and they include the Istana, Parliament House, Supreme Court, and various government buildings, military camps and bases.

The expected processing time for an application is two weeks. Operator permits are valid for up to a year, while activity permits are valid for a single activity or single block of repeated activities.