How to Legally Fly Your Drone in The Bahamas: A Filmmaker’s Guide

PLEASE NOTE: The information presented in this article may be outdated following the August 2017 revisions to the drone laws in the US. If you require assistance please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Those of you flying drones in the US may be interested in taking a trip down to one of the most beautiful places on earth: The Bahamas. The island locale is ripe for aerial photography and videography, and talented pilots can have a wonderful time taking in the breathtaking and peaceful landscape.

Unlike the registration and new Certificate of Waiver (and 333 Exemption) system in the US, the Bahamas is a bit less streamlined (although a good deal faster!), in its permitting process. The permitting and clearance that could take months in the US can be promptly completed in just a few days in the Bahamas, which is great for last-minute trips.

While there are numerous rules regarding drone flight in the Bahamas, this article is primarily targeted at filmmakers who want to fly for recreation or commercial purposes in the Bahamas. To do so, you’ll need three things: a Film Permit, a Certificate of Registration for your vehicle, and Authorization for Operation (if you’re flying commercially, or in manned airspace). We’ll discuss each in turn.

Film Permit

To film in the Bahamas you’ll need a permit from the Bahamas Film and Television Commission. http://www.bahamasfilm.com/ To complete the application, you’ll need the following information:

  • Locations Required
  • List of Cast and Crew (nationalities and flight info)
  • Film equipment serial numbers and value
  • List of Props and wardrobe, and their value
  • Estimated Budget
  • Where your production will air

You’ll be charged one percent of the total cost of your budget (minimum $10, maximum $500) as a processing fee. The office is very quick to turn these around eager to work with filmmakers who want to showcase the Bahamas. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you’re a production company looking to secure a permit to shoot in the Bahamas.

Note that there are some additional asks at the bottom of the application—like providing access to BTS photographers and providing a copy of the finished product—despite the way they’re presented, they’re optional, not required.

The Certificate of Registration

To legally fly a Remotely Piloted Vehicle in the Bahamas you’ll need to secure a Certificate of Registration from the Civil Aviation Department if you don’t already have one in the US with the FAA. Specifically, you’ll want to review the (extensive) rules around operating a drone located in Civil Aviation Safety Regulations Schedule 27: Unmanned and Remotely Piloted Aircraft.

Among the requirements, you need to have the following on your person:

  • Valid personal ID (US identification, like a driver’s license or passport, is acceptable)
  • Your Bahamas-issued (or US-issued) Certificate of Registration
  • Liability Insurance (in an amount appropriate for your use)

Commercial flight (and compensation or aerial work) must be approved by the Minister. Visual Line of Sight is required in the Bahamas. Please note: if you’re flying a larger drone there are many additional restrictions if the vehicle is over 15 kg (33 lbs), including requirements regarding display of your registration on the vehicle.

Authorization for Operation

If you intend to fly in controlled airspace (where manned aircraft could also be flying), at least seven days prior to flight you’ll need to request authority to fly from the Civil Aviation Department. To submit the request for authorization, you’ll need:

  • The contact information of the operator
  • The vehicle characteristics (type of aircraft, maximum certified take-off mass, number of engines, wing span)
  • A copy of your certificate of registration
  • Your aircraft identification if you’re using radiotelephony
  • Your operator certificate
  • Pilot License
  • Aircraft ration station license (if needed)
  • Description of your intended operation, including the dates of flights, points of departure and destination, cruising speeds and heights, how often you’ll be flying
  • Take-off and landing requirements
  • Vehicle details, including operating speeds, climb rate, descent rate, turn rates, climate restrictions, etc.
  • Details of your communications equipment
  • Detect-and-avoid capabilities
  • Emergency procedures
  • Proof of adequate insurance coverage

The complete list of requirements is located in Subdivision III: Request for Authorization of Schedule 27 of the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations.

Customs

Finally, to legally bring a drone into the country, you’ll need to present your Civil Aviation Department Certificate of Registration. Without it, you may be hit with a Duty Tax or have your UAV confiscated, so be sure to have it on hand before you land at the airport!

If you are interested in discussing your specific requirements, or would like assistance in securing your permits, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We can help keep the process smooth and you in the air.

The article provided above is for general information purposes only and should not be relied on as specific legal advice. This article does not form an attorney-client relationship. If you have any questions about this article, please feel free to contact Alexander JL Theoharis at alexander@apexlg.com.

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