Over the years drone flying in Iceland has become more and more popular. Drone photographers have flocked to Iceland to capture its beauty from a bird's-eye view. With sprawling national parks, scenic vistas, and diverse wildlife, it’s obvious why this island is a dream location for any photographer.

Drone flying in Iceland

However, with great technology comes great responsibility. Want to fly your vehicle in Iceland? Check out these drone dos and don’ts first.

Before you hop on the plane with your drone, read on about responsible vehicle use in Iceland. 

Drone training and/or license

Responsible drone users should familiarize themselves with their unmanned vehicle before use for the safety of themselves and others. For drones under 25 kg used for recreational purposes, no special training or licenses are required.

Drone regulations in Iceland

To protect the people and wildlife of Iceland, the Icelandic Transport Authority created a comprehensive list of rules and regulations on drone flights. Below you will find some of the key rules to a fun and safe drone flight in Iceland.

1. It is prohibited to fly a remotely piloted aircraft over crowds of people.

2. Remotely piloted aircraft may only be flown for leisure within densely populated areas if the maximum take-off mass does not exceed 3 kg.

3. Remotely piloted aircraft may not be flown closer than 50 meters to residential buildings or premises without approval by the owner, caretaker or resident’s association.

4. Remotely piloted aircraft may be flown outside densely populated areas if the maximum take-off mass does not exceed 25 kg. Remotely piloted aircraft may not be flown closer than 150 meters to holiday cottages, residential buildings or premises outside urban areas without approval by the owner or caretaker.

5. Remotely piloted aircraft flights shall always be conducted within visual line of sight of a remote pilot or an RPA observer of a remotely piloted aircraft. Aircraft weighing less than 3 kg may be flown beyond visual line of sight.

6. Do not operate drones under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.

7. Do not exceed a maximum height of 120 meters (394 feet).

Before taking your drone out for flight, familiarize yourself with the full list of Iceland drone laws from The Icelandic Transport Authority here.

Use of drones in Iceland

Commercial drone use

In Iceland, drone laws differ depending on whether you wish to fly for recreational purposes or commercial/research purposes. Commercial purposes include professional photographers, people of the press, scientists on research projects, engineering firms, real estate firms, etc.

If you plan to fly your drone for commercial purposes you must register your vehicle with the ITA here. Insurance for these vehicles is also mandatory.

Use of drones in Iceland

For more detailed regulations on commercial drone use, read here.

Where to buy drones in Iceland

If you don’t have a drone yet but might want to buy one on your trip, Iceland has several stores where they’re available. Consumers can find vehicles at the hardware store ELKO for prices ranging from 5000 ISK to 333,000 ISK. In downtown Reykjavík there is a store dedicated to drones called DJI Reykjavík. This one-stop shop is perfect not just for new shoppers but also for owners who may have left some equipment at home.

No Drone Sign, Jokullsarlon Glacier Lagoon

Best Locations for Drone Photography in Iceland

Iceland pours over with natural attractions. Simply put, each corner of the country is a photo opportunity. However, due to environmental protection, drones are not permitted at all of the country’s stunning sites.

Man holding drone in Iceland

Still, there are some gorgeous landscapes where unmanned vehicles are allowed. The Westfjords have become a popular location for drone photography. Bursting with green landscapes and rugged cliffs, it’s a prime location for spectacular wildlife photography.

Highlights of the Westfjords include Arnarfjörður fjord and Rauðisandur beach. However, flying drones at Látrabjarg cliffs is prohibited as to not disturb the birdlife.

FAQ

The Icelandic Transport Authority (ITA) defines drones as “Unmanned aircraft that is remotely piloted, i.e. flown by using remote control system.” As UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) have begun to populate the skies more frequently, the ITA has had to regulate their use.

Yes. Drone photography is permitted in Iceland for both recreational and commercial use. To make sure you are following the country laws for drone use, check The Icelandic Transport Authority site. Unmanned vehicles are prohibited in some areas of the country.

If you are planning on using your drone for commercial use, remember to register your vehicle with the ITA first.

Absolutely! Drones are welcome through Iceland’s borders. However, there are some travel tips to keep in mind: 

  • To avoid damage, pack your vehicle in your carry-on bag 
  • If you have to check your drone be sure to mark it as “FRAGILE”
  • Use a lip battery bag or the airline might confiscate your batteries

Drones are prohibited at many of Iceland’s most famous natural attractions. Most of our tours visit these popular sites and therefore drones are not allowed on these tours. We encourage you to bring your handheld cameras, however, so you can still capture your adventure!

Protected Areas/ National Parks 

Iceland’s national parks are tempting spots for aerial photos. However, as of 2016, drones are prohibited in these areas. If you wish to grab drone shots of these sprawling nature zones, you must apply for a permit. For more information, check the following national park websites: 

National parks aren’t the only natural attractions protected by law. Iceland has 114 protected areas under the jurisdiction of the Environmental Agency of Iceland. Some popular natural attractions where drones are prohibited include:

  • Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
  • Reynisfjara Beach
  • Gullfoss, Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss waterfalls 
  • Skaftafell Nature Reserve

 In order to fly over protected areas, you must get permission from the agency. More information can be found on their website.

Airports

The Icelandic Transport Authority states the distance limit for airports with scheduled international air services as 2 km. The distance limit for other airports with scheduled services is 1.5 km.

A permit from Isavia, the airport operator, is required for flying a remotely piloted aircraft within:

  •  2 km from the boundaries of Keflavik Airport, Reykjavik Airport, Akureyri Airport and Egilsstadir Airport.
  • 1.5 km from the boundaries of other scheduled air service airports, with the exception of flights operated below the height of the highest structures in the immediate vicinity of the flight trajectory of the aircraft, which do not require permits.

Find more practical information