Flying a recreational drone in Kenya

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Dear friends, I am considering a holiday in Kenya next year and I would like to know if and how I can fly my recreational drone (Parrot ANAFI) there.
I checked the relevant regulations on the Internet but they seem to out of date.
 I just wrote to the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority,Head Office in Nairobi and I received the answers below from which I don’t understand if - as a regulation is presently lacking - I can freely introduce and fly drone in Kenya or not and - in case - which sanctions I should expect.

Could you please kindly help ?
Do you have any local contact that could clarify the situation? 
Many thanks and best regards 

1) “Following the annulment of the Civil Aviation(Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems)Regulations 2017 by the National Assembly, the Authority ,hereby ,is not in a position to process any applications as necessary.
In the circumstances, the issuance of drone permit and authorization to operate is suspended .”

2) “The Civil Aviation(Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems)Regulations 2017 governing the management and related operations of Drone was NULLIFIED by the National Assembly, and remains null and void/invalid to that extent todate.”





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Giorgio, I think the response you received from KCAA is clear, at least to me.  There is no permitting process at the moment and you are not cleared to fly.  In addition, since you are travelling TO Kenya, their customs inspectors might even impound the a/c.  Unless you get clear and specific authorization to enter the country with your drone and fly it there, I would not attempt it.  

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Hey Gio, 

Worse case, customs will not allow you in if they search your bag when you enter the country. If they take it you will get it back when you fly out of Kenya provided you go into and out of the same airport. Best case scenario, you go through customs and they don't check your bag at all and it's fine. It appears that they don't have a permit process right now, which means you can fly there without a permit as long as you follow the same rules we do here in the US. Kenya might have slightly different rules on altitude but for the most part, other countries rules are very close to the US. 

I would say though that you should be careful around any national parks as they may not permit flying in there, and not to fly too close to wildlife. If you do a safari you might ask the company you're going with if it's okay to fly, but I doubt that they'll let you take off from inside the national park. 

I would definitely take it with you and try to get shots where you can. The Rift Valley would be beautiful to film. I haven't taken mine there yet because before recently they had a country-wide  ban on drones but that has changed. Uganda and Nicaragua are the same, full ban on drones, and they took it from me at customs and returned it when I left. The majority of countries I go to though don't stop me and search my bags so I usually take it in just fine, then I don't fly in highly populated areas, near any Gov buildings or too close to any tourists sites that someone might try to shut down my flight. 

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2 minutes ago, Ed O'Grady said:

Not to beat this to death, 

In the circumstances, the issuance of drone permit and authorization to operate is suspended .”

Call me crazy but i interpret that to mean just what it says - no operations. 

The trouble is in the definition of “permit.”  When they were enforcing the regulations to fly drones was that commercially, recreationally, or both?  It also comes down to what you as the operator think your rights are?  In the US, absent any law against something does not make it illigal. In third World countries it’s not clear to foreigners what an individuals rights might be so there’s certianly merit in the question. 

Like I said earlier, common sense goes a long way in determining whether someone should or shouldn’t take a drone into a situation like this.  @MikeV has it right.  I have flown in Kenya several times, in National Parks, the Rift Valley, cities and small towns without any problems.  Was it legal, probably not.  Did I fly too close to animals, some people would report that because they think any drone in the air is too close - fortunately it isn’t up to them.  

There is a lot of political tension in and around Kenya, a lot of militia people with guns.  DON’T POINT A CAMERA AT THEM AND DONT FLY A DRONE AROUND THEM and you should be fine. 

28 minutes ago, Ed O'Grady said:

Giorgio needs to ask them a simple question - Can I bring it in and can I fly for fun = yes or no question!

Ask who?  There’s no one to ask.  And if you find people to ask you’ll get a different answer from each of them.  

@Gio seems to be looking for a definitive yes or no answer, there isn’t one.  If what @MikeV and I have shared with you doesn’t answer your concerns then I’d recommend that you don’t take a drone.  Both of us have first hand experience of flying there and have shared with you our experiences, if you are not satisfied with the explanations I think that even if you took a drone in all likelyhood you wouldn’t enjoy flying it anyway.  

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Hey thanks @Av8Chuck, great thoughts - totally agree - 

After reading a bit more it seems like they're still not set up for permits and you'd be taking a big risk. 

If it's not for work, I'd leave it behind unless you can get someone there to tell you that you can get a permit once you land in the country.  Otherwise I wouldn't want the pressure of flying  and not knowing what could happen with local authorities while I was vacation. If it is for work, keep pressing through the Civil Aviation channels to see if they can get you a permit. 

I recently flew in Ghana and there was articles about prison time and fines so we went through the office of civil aviation and got a permit for $20. No one every stopped me anywhere in any rural or tourist areas so it wasn't an issue, and they never stopped me at customs either, so in theory I could've just walked into the country, flown where I wanted and left - but there's the chance of fines/prison, so I paid their $20 to not take the risk. It took an hour of waiting and some paperwork but I had scheduled that into my trip for a non profit I was filming for. I will say that I got no response from the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority website and finally got someone through the GCAA facebook page 3 days after I emailed them through that so you could try that route for Kenya as well. But again, it doesn't sound like they are setup for that yet. Take a nice long lens for your DSLR camera if you have one or rent a 100-400mm if you're doing a safari and get great stuff from the ground. Have a good trip! 


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15 hours ago, Av8Chuck said:

They’ll take your drone away from you.  A/c means aircraft.  

Your taking an inexpensive toy drone, your not taking some kind of commercial drone.  Take it and enjoy it.  


Dear Chuck, please forgive me for the following comment.  I can assure you that I mean it in the kindest possible way, but your post touched one of my grammatical buttons:

"your" means "owned by you"

"you're" means "you are".


Pete (Lincoln, CA.  Pt 107 certified)

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Dear friends,

I thank you ALL (!) for taking the time to answer or showing your thoughts about my question.

As the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority can’t currently provide an authorization and as - after reading your several interesting speculations - my doubts about the subject are stil there, I will put it in this way: 

can anybody provide the link (!) to a “currently valid” Kenyan law (if there is one, about introducing and flying a drone in that country ? 🤔

Again, thanks a lot for your patience and attention 🙏🤗


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Giorgio, regardless of the current regulations from KCAA, or lack thereof, and various other opinions, the following comes directly from Kenya Revenue Authority Customs and Border Control...

21. Are there any restricted items, either for import/export? • The provisions setting out restricted item for import/export are set out in the 2nd and 3rd Schedule of the East African Community Customs Management Act. They include but are not limited to:- • Postal franking machines except and in accordance with the terms of a written permit granted by a competent authority of the partner state. • Traps capable of killing or capturing any game animal except and in accordance with the terms of a written permit granted by the Partner state. • Unwrought precious metals and precious stones. • Arms and ammunition specified under Chapter 93 of the Customs Nomenclature. • Ossein and bones treated with acid. • Other bones and horn-cores, unworked defatted, simply prepared (but not cut to shape) degelatinized, power and waste of these products, Ivory, elephant unworked or simply prepared but not cut to shape, teeth, hippopotamus, unworked o simply prepared but not cut to shape, ivory powder and waste, Tortoise shell, whalebone and whalebone hair, horns, antlers, hoover, nail, claws and beaks, unworked or simply prepared but not otherwise worked shells or molasses, crustaceans or echinoderms and cattle-bone. • An unmanned aerial vehicle for example, drones. All goods the importation of which is for the time being regulated under this Act or by any written law for the time being in force in the Partner State.

So what if you just don't tell them.....

27. Any passenger found walking through the Green Channel with dutiable/ prohibited goods or found mis-declaring the quantity, description or value of dutiable goods at the “Red Channel” (the baggage is examined where mis-declaration is suspected), is liable to strict penal action including arrest/prosecution - apart from seizure/confiscation of the offending goods depending upon gravity of violation detected.

I have reached out to Chief Pilot Gilbert Kibe of KCAA and hoping for a response tomorrow.  I believe he issued a "Gazette" (similar to the Federal Register in the U.S.) in late March or early April that prohibits flight until new rules are ratified by Parliament.  That has not yet taken place, as best as I can tell. Searching through The Gazette is an impossible task!

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Dear Ed,

thanks for your help 🙏🤗

 It would be really great if mr. Kibe, following his excellent speech

should publish a clarification about the subject that could positively help all the recreational drone enthusiasts to video-document and therefore spread to the world, the natural wonders of this amazing country 🤗

A few other interesting links I found after reading your message: Notice 259- Civil Aviation (Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems) Regulations 2017.pdf


Edited by Gio
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1 hour ago, Ed O'Grady said:

21. Are there any restricted items, either for import/export? • The provisions setting out restricted item for import/export are set out in the 2nd and 3rd Schedule of the East African Community Customs Management Act.

I couldn’t care less whether you take a drone on your vacation or not.  I have expressed my opinion that you shouldn’t. However, this topic comes up often and the issue becomes somewhat polorizing because everyone seems to “take a side” when there is no side to take.  

Like everything with a drone you are responsible for what you do with it and have to decide for yourself what level of risk your willing to take and therefore mitigate.  We’re talking about a toy drone, if you can’t afford to loose it at customers don’t take it.  If you think that you might be arrested for flying it, don’t take it.  I can tell you from first hand experience that neither of these are likely to happen.  When I was confronted with this decision I took the drone with 10 batteries, extra motors and props in two large cases.  I had no problems, doesn’t make it right or wrong but no one cared!

By taking a drone on vacation you are not importing or exporting a drone.  These rules are in place to make sure that if you bring a drone in, you take it out when you leave, even if it’s in pieces.  They are there to prevent you from importing, not from bringing something in or using it.  Anyone who works in production knows that this also applies to many of the higher end cameras and cinema gear but tourist bring camera equipment into Kenya all the time that aren’t even aware thier equipment violates these rules. Occasionally officials will ask the purpose for using this equipment and if you answer because you love photography they generally send you on your way.  If they suspect a commercial reason, it will probably cost you money, and if they suspect that your bringing the equipment in for sale, it will cost you money, they will catalog the equipment and if you don’t bring everything in that catalog out with you when you return through customs they it will cost you more money and/or jail time.

If your a foreigner researching whether you can bring a drone on vacation and where you could use it in the US you’ll find similar convoluted explanaitions, yet we all know that people bring drones into the US everyday and fly them with impunity.  If after entering you fly your drone at an NFL event or fly it in Times Square your going to be in a world of trouble and will probably be nominated for a Darwin Award.  But a little common sense on where and when you fly makes all the difference.  

Apparently that logic is not good enough for some people that feel the need to be indemnified by the rules.  If you can figure this crap out then your a better attorney than me.  Actually I’m not an attorney at all but my brother in law is an he gave up trying to figure this out as well...  

Even if you think you’ve found the answer, you haven’t.  In third world countries the rules, or an individual officials understanding of the rules often change daily.  It doesn’t matter if you have a link, a declaration from the President or a copy of the Constitution, bring cash in small denominations and be prepared to pay.

Have you ever been to Kenya?


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Sorry, Ed, certainly nothing in my response was to suggest that you’re wrong.  My point is there is no right or wrong answer and @Gio just needs to decide what to do.

My question regarding ever going to Kenya was badly aimed at @Gio.  Not like that’s a prerequisite but if so @Gio would know that there’s no officials to enforce any regulations in most of the country.  It’s a bit like flying drones in Northern California, not illigal but lots of pot plantations, you probably won’t get ramp checked but you might get shot down... 


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