Can I Fly Drone Over Water? A Handy Guide


Are you planning on flying a drone over water?

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 over water?

In short, the answer is YES! You can fly drones over water, but there are some important considerations and regulations to keep in mind.

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 Over Water

FAA Regulations on Flying Drones Over Water

Even though it’s allowed to fly drones over water, here are some FAA regulations that you need to keep in mind:

  1. Ensure your drone is waterproof or has the necessary equipment to protect it from water damage, especially when flying over larger bodies of water like oceans.
  2. Check weather conditions before flying, and avoid strong winds and extreme weather conditions that may cause navigation problems.
  3. Be mindful of obstacles such as ships and lighthouses when flying over water, and maintain a safe distance from them.
  4. Follow general FAA drone regulations, such as flying below 400 feet, staying within visual line-of-sight, and avoiding restricted areas, even when flying over water.


Security Concerns

Flying a drone over water 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 Over Water

  1. Water damage: Drones can malfunction or crash due to water exposure, potentially causing costly repairs or loss of equipment.
  2. Signal interference: Large bodies of water can cause interference with GPS and radio signals, making it difficult to maintain control of the drone.
  3. Wildlife disturbance: Drones can disturb marine life, such as birds and sea mammals, causing stress and potential harm to their natural habitats.
  4. Wind conditions: Unpredictable wind patterns over water can make it difficult to control the drone, increasing the risk of crashes or accidents.
  5. Legal restrictions: Many areas have specific regulations regarding drone usage over water, and failure to comply can result in fines or penalties.

Permissions and Permits

Flying drones over water can be both enjoyable and beneficial for capturing stunning images and footage.

However, it is essential to obtain the necessary permissions and permits before doing so. These requirements may vary depending on the jurisdiction, local regulations, and the specific body of water. In most cases, you will need to register your drone with the relevant aviation authority, such as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the United States.

Additionally, you may need to acquire special permits if you plan to fly in protected areas, such as marine sanctuaries, national parks, or wildlife reserves. It is also crucial to respect the privacy of others and adhere to local laws, as some areas may have specific restrictions on drone usage. Always research and follow the regulations in place to ensure a safe and responsible flying experience.

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1. Can I Fly Drones Over Water if I am not a Licensed Drone Pilot?

Yes, you can fly a drone over water even if you are not a licensed drone pilot, but you must adhere to the rules and regulations set forth by your local aviation authority. These typically include flying below a certain altitude, maintaining visual line of sight, and avoiding restricted areas or wildlife. Remember that flying over water carries additional risks, such as potential water damage, loss of signal, or interference from environmental factors. It is crucial to take extra precautions, such as using a waterproof drone or a flotation device, and familiarizing yourself with your drone’s features and fail-safe options before attempting to fly over water.

2. Who can Authorize the Use of Drones Over Water?

The authorization to use drones over water is typically provided by the respective country’s aviation regulatory body, such as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the United States or the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) in Australia. These authorities establish rules and regulations for drone operations, including flights over water. Operators are required to comply with these regulations, which may involve obtaining necessary permits, adhering to altitude limits, and following other safety guidelines to ensure responsible drone usage over water.

3. Can the Police Fly Drones Over Water?

Yes, the police can fly drones over water for various purposes such as search and rescue operations, monitoring maritime traffic, or conducting investigations. The use of drones by law enforcement agencies is subject to the same aviation regulations and guidelines as civilian drones, which may vary depending on the jurisdiction. However, police drones are usually equipped with advanced technology and may have special permissions that allow them to operate in areas where civilian drones are restricted.


In conclusion, before flying a drone over water, 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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