Can I Fly Drone Across the Border? A Handy Guide


Are you planning on flying a drone across the border?

Before you take off, it’s important to know whether or not it’s legal to do so. The rules and regulations regarding drone flight can vary depending on the location, so it’s important to do your research beforehand.

In this article, I’ll answer the question: can you fly a drone across the border?

In short, the answer is NO! You cannot fly drones across the border due to safety and security concerns.

The laws around drone flight can be complex. So, I’ll also let you know about FAA regulations, security concerns, permissions needed, and penalties (if any) so that you’re fully informed.

Can I Fly Drone Across the Border

FAA Regulations on Flying Drones Across the Border

Due to the following FAA regulations, you are not allowed to fly drones across the border:

  1. A “Certificate of Waiver or Authorization” (COA) is available to government entities that want to fly a UAS in civil airspace for purposes such as law enforcement, firefighting, border patrol, disaster relief, and military training.
  2. While the FAA regulations do not specifically address flying a drone across international borders, they do require drone operators to comply with certain rules and regulations for recreational or commercial drone operations within U.S. airspace.
  3. When flying a drone across the U.S. border, consider the regulations and requirements of both the FAA and the customs and border protection agencies, as these requirements can vary depending on the specific circumstances.
  4. Factors that may influence these requirements include the purpose of your flight, the type of drone you are using, and the destination country.


Security Concerns

Flying a drone across the border comes with its own set of unique security concerns, which are worth considering before launching your drone. Here are some potential security concerns to keep in mind.

Security Concerns for Flying Drones Across the Border

  1. Smuggling: Drones can be used to transport illegal drugs, weapons, or other contraband across borders, bypassing security checkpoints.
  2. Surveillance: Unauthorized drones flying across borders can conduct illicit surveillance, gathering sensitive data or spying on government facilities.
  3. Terrorism: Drones can be weaponized and used to carry out terrorist attacks by crossing borders undetected and targeting critical infrastructure.
  4. Airspace violation: Drones flying across borders without proper authorization can lead to airspace violations and pose risks to aviation safety.
  5. Privacy invasion: Drones crossing borders could potentially invade personal privacy by capturing images or videos of individuals without their consent.

Permissions and Permits

Flying a drone across international borders typically requires obtaining permissions and permits from the relevant authorities in both the departure and destination countries.

The process may involve contacting the respective civil aviation authorities to ensure compliance with their drone regulations, which often include guidelines on weight, altitude, and flight restrictions. Additionally, it is crucial to adhere to any customs and import requirements of the destination country, as well as to abide by local privacy laws concerning drone usage.

Failure to comply with these rules may result in penalties, fines, or even the confiscation of the drone.

Penalties for Flying a Drone without Authorization

Penalties for flying drones without authorization across the border can be quite severe. Individuals found in violation of these regulations may face both civil and criminal penalties. Civil penalties can include fines up to $27,500 per violation, while criminal penalties can result in fines up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment for up to three years. In some cases, the drone may also be confiscated. It is crucial for drone operators to familiarize themselves with and adhere to all relevant laws and regulations to avoid these serious consequences.

Also check:


1. Can I Fly Drones Across the Border if I am not a Licensed Drone Pilot?

No, you cannot fly a drone across the border if you are not a licensed drone pilot. Flying a drone across international borders can be a complex process, as it involves adhering to the rules and regulations of the countries involved. Being a licensed drone pilot is a requirement to ensure the operator is knowledgeable about these regulations and can operate the drone safely and legally. Additionally, customs and border protection agencies may have their own restrictions and requirements for drone use in border areas; thus, operating a drone without proper licensing could result in fines, confiscation of the drone, or other legal consequences.

2. Who can Authorize the Use of Drones Across the Border?

The authorization for the use of drones across the border typically falls under the jurisdiction of the respective countries’ aviation authorities, such as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the United States or Transport Canada in Canada. To obtain authorization, drone operators must comply with the rules and regulations set forth by these agencies, as well as any additional requirements established by border control agencies, such as customs and immigration. In some cases, operators may also need to obtain clearance from other relevant authorities, such as national security or defense agencies, depending on the nature of their drone activities and the specific border in question.

3. Can the Police Fly Drones Across the Border?

Yes, the police can fly drones across the border in certain situations and under specific regulations. Law enforcement agencies may use drones for various purposes such as surveillance, search and rescue missions, and border security. However, they must comply with national and international laws, obtain necessary permissions, and coordinate with relevant authorities in both countries to ensure the legality and safety of their drone operations across the border.


In conclusion, before flying a drone across the border, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the appropriate resources and tools. Download the B4UFLY mobile app to easily find safe and legal flying locations.

Drone laws are subject to change, and information in this blog may become outdated; always consult official sources for the latest regulations.

And if you have a related query, kindly feel free to let me know in the comments.

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Peter Karanja is a licensed drone pilot from Kenya, freelance writer and drone enthusiast. He has been using drones for land survey, GIS, and photography for the past three years. Being a drone user, he loves writing about drone applications, safety tips for using drones, and the best ways to get the most out of a drone.

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