Regulations for flying in Costa Rica and Cuba


Justin Holmes
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Hey everyone,

Hope all is well in the UAV community. This summer I will be going to Costa Rica and Cuba for a few weeks and was hoping to gain some insight on the rules and regulations of flying drones in each country. I read articles saying "You must not fly without a license. A license consists of 48 hours of theoretical training and 10 hours of practical training by schools authorized by the DGAC" for Costa Rica, but I don't know if my commercial license for the United States will cover me. Can anyone help shed light on this subject and tell me what I need to do/not do to fly in each of these countries legally?

Thanks,

Justin

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Obviously if there's members on this forum from those countries they would provide the best insight.  Not aware of any.  Are you doing this for work or pleasure?  Are you talking about a Phantom or a drone that can carry 30 pounds? 

I have done a lot of work in third world countries and I always tell the people working with me, "don't point the camera at the guy with the guns."  Drones are a lot like that.  A little common sense goes a long way. Keep in mind that because of the "curiosity" with drones they will draw attention and you MUST be aware that if your there in the summer the heat and humidity is very high and the drone won't perform as well as your used to.  Make sure you test and get comfortable with it away from everyone.  Also, no matter how minor we might think an injury is in the first world, there probably won't be any medical facilities within days of your location so something that seems insignificant can turn into something very serious.  So you not to be extra cautious.    

If there's a political event where the tension is high, don't be the idiot with the drone.  If its a normal day in paradise, people are generally not even aware that your there, keep it that way and you shouldn't have any difficulty.  Outside of San Jose there isn't too many places I wouldn't fly in Costa Rica.  I'd probably shoot in San Jose but I spent the first two days acclimating my equipment to the humidity.  If you keep your drone in an air conditioned room with you the lens will fog and you won't be able to use it anyway.

I don't know anything about Cuba.  Its a socialists country so I doubt they would be accepting of drones flying around things they probably don't want you to see or end up on YouTube.  The issue isn't the drone as much as it might be that your accused of being a terrorist or something stupid.  

I shoot video everywhere I go and then edit little vignettes to music to share with others that might be interested.  We spent approximately 15 days in Costa Rica and I flew and shot all over, some of it was done under police supervision and not once did the issue of whether its legal ever came up.  

Have a fun trip.

 

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You will not be permitted to enter Cuba with a drone.  In the past they were confiscated and not returned, but I understand they will hold it at the airport until your departure now.  A Canadian citizen was jailed for 13 days this past February for flying a drone but it's not clear how he brought it into the country.  The charge was espionage but was dropped after the Cuban authorities reviewed the footage.  I have seen references made to a special permit but no idea how you would go about it.  I'm going in September, so I will research this permit idea and report back to you.

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And finally, from the home page of Cuban Customs (translated by Google), the following:

Note on unmanned aerial means

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dron2.jpgSince the legislation on the importation by natural or legal persons of unmanned air means (including the so-called "drones") is subject to revision and final decision, the General Customs of the Republic suggests and thanks the passengers to travel to Country, to refrain from importing this type of media as part of their accompanied, unaccompanied or shipped luggage, in order to avoid unnecessary discomfort and delays.

 

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Thanks for the quick responses and useful insight! It sounds like I'll shy away from bringing my Phantom to Cuba but can use it in Costa Rica after a few days of acclimating both the drone any myself. That being said, I will be careful where I fly and who is nearby during my flights.

Also, great video, Av8Chuck, definitely getting me excited for this summer!

Hope you both have plenty of fun and safe flights shortly and any additional information would be greatly appreciated!

Justin

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On 5/14/2017 at 10:02 PM, Av8Chuck said:

We're always happy to help but it isn't free.  If you take advise then you need to post video or pictures.

When are you going and where are you staying?  

 

I am going to Tamarindo the week after I get out of school (I am a junior in high school) and will hopefully be staying there six or seven days. I'm not quite sure what I will be filming yet, but I love to create short travel videos documenting my travels, so that is what I am hoping to do. That being said, I will definitely post whatever I manage to create!

Thanks again for the help!

Justin

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Looks like a great place to visit, look forward to seeing your footage.  

Don't take this the wrong way, but I didn't realize you were so young.  My advice can seem a bit flippant at times.  If your taking a MAVIC into such a touristy place that's probably OK, if your using a Phantom be very careful not to loiter over the beach or areas where people might get offended.  

No one wants to get into trouble in a foreign country, especially as a minor.   So be careful, use good judgement and have fun.   

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