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What are the rules if you want to fly a drone in Norway?

Robin-Ivan Capar
Robin-Ivan Capar - [email protected]
What are the rules if you want to fly a drone in Norway?
These are the current rules for operating drones in Norway. Photo by Jason Blackeye / Unsplash

Drones are often used by the general public in Norway, as well as experts in rescue operations and inspections of facilities in rough terrain. But what are the rules?

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As the security situation in Europe deteriorates, the risk of drones being used for espionage and similar activities has increased substantially in Norway.

In the last month, there have been numerous drone sightings in the vicinity of gas and power plants (such as the Kårstø plant in Tysvær, the Johan Sverdrup oil field, and other offshore facilities in the North Sea) and airports (such as the Andøya Airport in Andeness, Sola Airport close to Stavanger, and Bergen Flesland Airport) in Norway.

READ MORE: Why Norway is asking the public to be vigilant about drones

Furthermore, multiple Russians have been arrested after being caught with drones or photographic equipment in the last month.

Norway has implemented sanctions prohibiting Russians from flying drones in the country, and several restrictions govern flying drones in general.

With drones being a matter of intense debate in Norwegian society at the moment, we take a look at the current rules for operating these crafts.

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Rules for operating drones in Norway

In 2021, common European Union rules for drone flight came into force, also affecting the legal framework in Norway.

There is no longer a distinction between hobby flying and professional flying, and the new rules aim to ensure increased privacy, among other things.

According to a recent overview by Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK), Norway has multiple rules in place for people who want to fly drones lighter than 25 kilograms.

For the vast majority of drones, you need to register as an operator in the drone registry (you can do so on the Civil Aviation Authority's webpage - in Norwegian), take an online course, pass an exam, and have valid insurance in place if you want to fly a drone.

Note that there are some exceptions: these rules don't apply if your drone is lighter than 250 grams and doesn't have a camera or if you only plan to fly it indoors.

The Civil Aviation Authority has created an interactive guide so that you can easily find out which rules apply to your situation and drone. You can find it here (in Norwegian).

Furthermore, you must stay clear of no-drone zones and keep a minimum distance of 5 kilometres from airports. Also, remember that flying drones over the capital of Oslo or Norway's prisons is not allowed.

Some Norwegian towns, national parks, and protected areas have their own rules for the use of drones.

For example, it is forbidden to fly a drone at Kjeragbolten, Besseggen in Jotunheimen, and Dovrefjell. On the other hand, it is legal to fly a drone at Trolltunga and Preikestolen even though these areas are in protected zones.

In addition to the rules mentioned above, you must always be able to see the drone from where you're standing, and you can't fly a drone higher than 120 metres from the ground.

You also can't fly drones close to other people or over large groups of people. If your drone is over 500 grams, you need to keep 150 metres distance from buildings.

For a complete overview of other rules surrounding the use of drones, you can visit the Norwegian Data Protection Authority's website here (in Norwegian).

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Tighter rules on the way

At the moment, Norway's Civil Aviation Authority is considering introducing stricter requirements for drone operators, which could also limit areas where drones can fly.

Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre recently said that Norway has to consider the new security reality and implement new measures related to drones if the situation calls for it.

Eirik Solheim, NRK Beta's technology adviser, believes that new restrictions could lead to fewer drones in the air, making it easier to detect illegal activities.

However, he points out that many drones are small and difficult to detect.

"The most advanced military drones can be as light as 20 grams and have a range of multiple kilometres. We believe that intelligence services also own such drones. Restrictions don't help in such cases - you can't see such a drone when it's 10 metres in the air," Solheim says.

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